Top-Rated 2017 Small SUVs in Performance and Design

Christian Wardlaw | Jul 26, 2017
In order to determine what new-vehicle owners like the most and least about their small SUVs, J.D. Power conducts the annual Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study. Each year, the company surveys new-vehicle owners who have been driving their vehicles for at least 90 days. Survey respondents share their opinions of the performance, design, layout and features of their vehicle.

Power Circle Ratings are generated from this data in order to visually summarize the collective opinions of each make and model. These ratings are useful to new-vehicle shoppers, giving them an idea of whether the people that bought the vehicle like it or not.


2017 Kia Niro Launch Edition photo This buyer’s guide highlights the top-rated 2017 Small SUVs from the 2017 U.S. APEAL Study. Each model listed in alphabetical order below receives a Power Circle Rating of 4 or 5 out of a possible 5 for overall appeal.

2017 Buick Encore

Diminutive in size but not in popularity, the Encore blends upscale design and features with a tall driving height, available all-wheel drive, and an attractive price. As a result, lots of people adore the Encore, which received a styling update, a new infotainment system, and extra convenience items for 2017.

The 2017 Buick Encore receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and is the award recipient in the Small Car segment.

2017 Buick Envision

Introduced in 2016, the Envision lineup expanded in 2017 to include a wider variety of trim levels and powertrains, as well as a lower base price. Smartphone projection technology and new safe teen driving systems also debuted in Buick’s latest SUV for the 2017 model year.

The 2017 Buick Envision receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2017 Ford Escape

Ford updated its smallest SUV, the Escape, for 2017. Freshened styling, improved safety equipment and ratings, and a new infotainment system are the highlights of the 2017 Escape. Ford also took steps to quiet the cabin, added interior storage, and debuted a new Sport Appearance Package for the new model year.

The 2017 Ford Escape receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2017 Honda CR-V

Honda completely redesigned the CR-V for 2017, installing a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in most models, improving interior comfort and cargo space, adding a new infotainment system with smartphone projection technology, and installing a suite of driver assistance and collision avoidance systems as standard equipment in most models.

The 2017 Honda CR-V receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and is the award recipient in the Compact SUV segment.

2017 Kia Niro

An all-new model, the Kia Niro is a hybrid that doesn’t sell itself as a hybrid. Good looks, a roomy and useful interior, and a satisfying blend of performance and efficiency characterize the new Niro, which Kia markets as a crossover SUV despite its lack of an available all-wheel-drive system.

The 2017 Kia Niro receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and is the award recipient in the Small SUV segment.

2017 Kia Sportage

Redesigned for the 2017 model year, the Kia Sportage increases in size while retaining engaging driving dynamics. Turbocharged power is an option, as is all-wheel drive, and the Sportage is available with the latest in infotainment, driver assistance, and collision avoidance technologies.

The 2017 Kia Sportage receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2017 Nissan Rogue

Now the most popular Nissan model, the Rogue outsells the company’s Altima midsize car. A styling update and technology upgrade help to increase the Rogue’s appeal in 2017, and Nissan rolled out new hybrid-powered, luxury-outfitted, and Star Wars-themed variants of the vehicle.

The 2017 Nissan Rogue receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2017 Subaru Crosstrek

Based on the Subaru Impreza hatchback, the Crosstrek is equipped with SUV styling cues, standard all-wheel drive, and a raised suspension providing 8.7 inches of ground clearance. For 2017, the hybrid model was discontinued while a new Special Edition arrived. This is the final year for the Crosstrek before a complete redesign.

The 2017 Subaru Crosstrek receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2017 Volkswagen Tiguan

One of the older models in its segment, the Volkswagen Tiguan is configured with a roomy back seat and a small trunk. That means you can carry passengers or lots of cargo, but not at the same time. A redesigned 2018 Tiguan solves this problem, and next year the current model will become the Tiguan Limited.

The 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

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