The segment of small SUV models is the leading segment of the automotive industry these days. Therefore, you may presume that the market is really crowded. Moreover, it’s hard to find a carmaker that doesn’t have such a vehicle in the offer. With so much competition, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd, so every manufacturer is figuring out new ways to attract more customers. This leads us to frequent updates and it’s no wonder that a big number of novelties are coming for the next year as well. That’s why we’ve decided to make our list of 10 Best New Compact SUVs for 2021.
The list includes models from various carmakers and you should keep in mind that this isn’t the ultimate list of best compact SUVs and crossovers. This list includes only those models that are bringing significant novelties. We are talking about complete redesigns, facelifts, and other major updates that bring significant changes.
2021 Mercedes Benz GLA 250
The all-new, second generation of the smallest crossover in Mercedes-Benz’s range is coming this summer and there are some pretty big changes that will make it even better than before. This overhaul brings novelties in all aspects and one of the first that comes to mind is the styling, which looks far more mature than before. The front end is fitted to the brand’s latest design language, while the rear side is characterized by pretty clean horizontal taillights. The overall shape has slightly changed, mostly because of dimensions. The new model is notably higher, which provides a more SUV-ish stance. Also, the model is wider and features an additional 1.1 inches in the wheelbase. Interestingly, the 2021 Mercedes Benz GLA 250 is slightly shorter compared to the original model, which in practice means shorter overhangs and sportier overall appearance.
On the inside, you can see a lot of radical changes compared to the original. First of all, there is a new dashboard, highlighted by two large TFT screens, one for the instrument cluster and another for the infotainment. The overall look of the cabin feels more upscale, but a completely digitalized layout may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially with the new touchpad that seems a little bit too complicated. On the other side, the cabin is spacious and quite practical, as you may count on about 15 cubic feet behind the second row and 50 cubic feet of the overall cargo volume.
Under the hood, the 2021 Mercedes Benz GLA 250 will come with a brand-new 2.0-liter turbo-four, which delivers around 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. With such numbers and a new 8-speed automatic transmission, the new crossover will be able to hit 60 in about 6 seconds.
We expect to see 2021 Mercedes Benz GLA 250 this summer, with the starting price of around 36.000 dollars. Of course, key competitors will be models like BMW X1, Audi Q3, Lexus UX250, etc.
More about new 2021 Mercedes GLA you can read HERE.
2021 Alfa Romeo Tonale
The current lineup of the legendary Italian carmaker isn’t doing pretty well on the U.S. market, as less than 20.000 units have been sold last year. Therefore, we expect that the company will put all of their efforts to make the upcoming 2021 Alfa Romeo Tonale as best as they can. This will be the first subcompact crossover in Alfa Romeo’s portfolio and it looks like some pretty interesting design solutions are on the way.
Most of the details about the new crossover are still a mystery. The company still hides most details as secret, but we know that the styling won’t go far away from the Tonale concept we saw last year. Aesthetics have never been an issue in the case of Alfa Romeo but the thing is that we still don’t know the most basic technical details about the car. We know for sure that it won’t have many things in common with Stelvio. It will feature an FWD layout and we presume that the company will most likely use PSA’s CMP architecture, the same one that powers the current DS3.
This platform is particularly interesting in terms of electrification, so we presume that the 2021 Alfa Romeo Tonale will also come in a plug-in hybrid version. Details are still unavailable, but we expect an electric motor on the rear axle, which would make Tonale an AWD SUV. Still, keep in mind that the battery pack will certainly compromise the interior room, so base models will probably run on pure gasoline.
When it comes to the launch date, the best we have at this moment is the second half of the year. The base price would probably go around 35.000 dollars.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4
After years of teasing and waiting, we are finally about to see an all-electric crossover from Volkswagen. According to the latest reports, the new model will hit the market by the end of the year, as the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4. Allegedly, base models will cost around 35.000 dollars, which makes it approachable enough to compete with some already-established names among electric cars, such as Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Kona EV, etc.
If we can rely on some earlier statements of the company’s spokesmen, the new crossover will feature a single electric motor on the rear axle with 201 horsepower. That’s already quite respectable, but higher trims should be available with an additional 101-hp motor at the front. Details about the battery pack are still unavailable, but the company promises around 310 miles on a single charge, which is more compared to Hyundai Kona EV and Kia Niro EV. Of course, we count on different charging options, including a fast charger.
When it comes to the styling and overall design, we’ve seen a couple of teaser photos and it looks that there will be some similarities with the I.D. Crozz concept, though the production model will be far more conservative. We don’t expect to see things like retracting steering wheel, sliding rear doors, etc. Instead, we count on a typically-conservative VW design, with just a couple of flashy details. The same thing goes for the interior design, though the company hasn’t shown an image of it yet.
More about new VW ID.4 you can read HERE.
2021 Audi Q3
The subcompact crossover from Ingolstadt won’t come completely redesigned, but there is a couple of interesting novelties we should mention. First of all, the 45 TSFI model will be available only in the S-line package. Also, there are some nice additions in terms of standard equipment, as all models will come standard with goodies like power front seats with lumbar support, lane departure warning, progressive steering, and paddle shifters.
Other than that, things will remain pretty much the same. The current generation has been around since 2018, so it still feels pretty fresh and competitive. Speaking of the competition, key rivals are models like BMW X1 and X2, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Lexus UX, Volvo XC40 etc. This model stands out for several reasons, starting from one of the best-looking cabins in the class, comfortable ride, long list of standard features, and a quite practical interior. Both rows are decent in terms of legroom, while we particularly like the fact that there are almost 24 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row. That’s a pretty good number for the class.
Under the hood, things definitely won’t change, so North American drivers will have just one engine option in the offer. That would be a familiar 2.0-liter turbo-four with around 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and comes in pair with excellent 8-speed automatic transmission. On the other side, drivers from other parts of the world can count on all kinds of engine options, including a well-known 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel.
Given the lack of more significant changes, we presume that the 2021 Audi Q3 will hit the market sometime late in the year. Base models should go around 35.000 dollars.
2021 Buick Encore GX
Just a couple of weeks after the initial launch in the North American market, we are getting reports that suggest notable updates for the 2021 Buick Encore GX. According to sources like Motor1 and GM Authority, the next-year model will come with a decent list of novelties, which will even include some pretty notable styling changes. It looks like we are about to see a completely new front and rear fascias, though the exact details are still unavailable. Allegedly, the Sport Touring model is the only version that won’t receive all these exterior changes, as it already comes with a plethora of exclusive styling details, including different wheels, grille, and more.
This update will also bring changes on the inside, as the same reports suggest expansions in terms of standard equipment. It looks like the things like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Satellite Radio, are about to become standard across the whole range. Other than that, we don’t expect to see bigger interior changes.
Under the hood, the 2021 Buick Encore GX will carry on with two familiar engine options. A base engine is a 1.2-liter unit with around 137 horsepower, which comes in pair with a CVT gearbox. Higher trims will come equipped with a slightly bigger and more powerful 1.3-liter engine, which puts out around 155 horsepower. The big difference is that this engine comes coupled with a 9-speed automatic transmission, as well as that all-wheel drive is also available.
The 2021 Buick Encore GX should hit the market sometime in the last quarter of the year, with the base price around 25.100 dollars.
2021 Volvo XC60
The 2021 Volvo XC60 is still a bit of a mystery. While some reports suggest a facelift, which seems perfectly reasonable given the model’s age, the company is still quiet. The fact is that the Swedish manufacturer is currently busy with the new generation of S90, but the XC60 competes in one of the toughest segments in today’s automotive industry. The current generation has been around for three years and this seems like a perfect time for a mid-cycle refresh.
This facelift would bring changes in various aspects, starting from a new styling. Of course, the focus would be on the front end, where we would see the implementation of elements from the brand’s latest design philosophy. However, we can’t talk about details at this point. On the other side, we don’t expect more significant changes on the inside. The current model already features one of the best-looking cabins in the segment, with the impressive build quality and some of the most comfortable seats in the business. Still, novelties in terms of standard features are pretty much a certain thing.
When it comes to engines, it would be hard to expect any change, considering that the current model comes with a variety of engine options in the offer. Those are all well-known Volvo units, so the base model comes with a 2.0-liter turbo-four that delivers around 250 horsepower. This engine can be upgraded with a supercharger and in that case, it delivers 316 horsepower. The further upgrade includes a plug-in hybrid setup and a max output of 400 horsepower. Finally, there is a new Polestar version with around 415 horsepower.
The base model starts slightly over 40.000 dollars and we don’t expect bigger changes in the future. Keep in mind that this facelift is just a rumor at the moment, so take the previous paragraphs with a reserve.
2021 BMW X2
Big news from Bavaria, as the small X2 crossover is about to receive a facelift. However, this will be much more than a typical mid-cycle refresh. Of course, we will see a lot of styling changes. The testing model has been spotted and despite the camouflage, we can see a larger grille. Also, we count on tweaks on the front bumper and maybe even some revisions on headlights. More details will be known once the new model takes off the camouflage. On the other side, the interior won’t suffer too much, though novelties in terms of standard equipment will certainly come.
Still, this facelift is about to bring another, far more important novelty. We are about to see a plug-in hybrid version of this crossover. The new model will feature a little bit different front end and a couple of more exclusive details. However, the thing that’s more interesting is the powertrain, of course. The new system will be based on a familiar 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, which will get help from an electric motor that runs rear wheels. The toral output goes around 217 horsepower, which should be enough to run this model from zero to sixty in about 6.8 seconds. The battery is located under the rear seat and has a capacity of 10 kWh. That should be enough for a max all-electric range of 35 miles.
The rest of the powertrain lineup will carry on in the same way, so North American drivers may count on a 2.0-liter turbo-four that comes in two output variants, with either 228 or 331 horsepower. We expect to see the updated 2021 BMW X2 in the second half of the year, with the starting price around 36.500 dollars.
2021 Hyundai Tucson
The Korean compact crossover competes in the most crowded segment of the automotive industry, so it’s no wonder that the new generation is on the way. In order to remain competitive with rivals like Ford Escape, VW Tiguan, Nissan Rogue, etc. The new model should bring various improvements, starting with a new design, new technologies and more. Unfortunately, the company still manages to keep most details as secret.
The testing model has been spotted on the road a couple of times. However, it still wears a complete camouflage, so it’s hard to talk about details. Still, even the camo can’t cover the new design language, which clearly shows a lot of influence from the HDC-2 concept, which means two lighting groups and a massive grille. One of the rare things we can clearly see is the new design of taillights, which don’t have anything in common with the current generation.
One of the main issues of the current model is a pretty lethargic powertrain lineup, which isn’t particularly efficient either. Therefore, we count on big novelties in this aspect. Some sources suggest that both 2.0 and 2.4-liter units will be dropped from the lineup and that the base version will come with a newer 2.5-liter unit, coupled with 8-speed automatic transmission. On the other side, higher trims should come with a turbo-four engine under the hood. The 2021 Hyundai Tucson won’t hit the market before the last quarter of the year. The current model starts around 23.500 dollars and we don’t count on significant changes in the future.
More about next-generation 2021 Hyundai Tucson you can read HERE.
2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime
Big novelties are also coming from Toyota, as the world’s most popular crossover is about to get a new version. For the first time, we will see a PHEV version of this compact SUV, which will come as 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime. At this point, we already know most of the details about this version, and believe us, things look very promising.
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime will feature a starting price of around 38.000 dollars. For that money, you may count on a quite powerful, 302-hp plug-in hybrid setup, which will be able to move this crossover from zero to sixty in just 5.8 seconds. That would be two seconds quicker compared to the standard hybrid model. Furthermore, the company promises an all-electric range of more than 42 miles, which is something you won’t get from any other compact crossover on the market.
As you may presume, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime will be a quite hi-grade option, offered in two versions – SE and XSE. The base model will come standard with goodies like heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a power liftgate, and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration. The XSE will be a bit of an upgrade, with goodies like a bigger 9-inch touchscreen, upgraded audio, wireless device charging, a moonroof, and a two-tone exterior paint scheme. Of course, those are just highlights, while the exact list of goodies is much longer.
As we already mentioned, base models will go around 38.100 dollars, but keep in mind all state and federal incentives, which will measure in thousands of dollars in this case.
More about new 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime you can read HERE.
2021 Chevy Trax
The future of 2021 Chevy Trax is still a bit of a mystery. Despite that this model came to North America in 2015, we are actually talking about a model that has been originally introduced in 2012. That’s too long for the segment of subcompact crossovers, so most rivals feel fresher and they are generally better cars. Keep in mind that this is the segment where you can find models like Hyundai Kona, Honda HR-V, etc. That’s why many expect changes in the near future.
What kind of changes we are about to see, it’s hard to say at the moment. On one side, the all-new Trailblazer has been introduced recently. It is younger, bigger, and cheaper, which are the things that make it a better overall value. According to the latest reports, the two models will co-exist in the next year. Therefore, the 2021 Chevy Trax will be a typical carryover, with no bigger changes.
Therefore, the question that comes to mind is what will happen after the 2021 year model. It doesn’t make too much sense to see to keep both models in the offer, but on the other side, many count on a complete overhaul in the near future. Given the fact that Trax’s sales are growing every year and that almost 117.000 units have been sold in North America through 2019, the next generation definitely makes sense.
Meanwhile, the 2021 Chevy Trax will carry on in the same way, with the starting price around 21.500 dollars.