What is the fastest-growing segment in the automotive world? If you answered with the compact crossover SUV segment you would be 100 percent correct. Not all of these smaller crossovers come with AWD, but for the purpose of comparison and finding out which one has the best off road ability six have been chosen to go head to head and show you what they can do. These six include the Mazda CX-3, Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Chevrolet Trax and Kia Soul, all fitted with their own version of AWD to give you a great head to head; let’s see what the results are.
In this small SUV test the Trax showed up with some good space for all passengers to ride. You can easily take four people wherever you want to go and confidently handle off road obstacles on light to medium trails. The space is really all that made the Trax stand out ahead of the rest as it lags behind in power, capability and even materials. Even with that said, the Chevrolet Trax is a competent driving machine that can be the right vehicle for many just starting out and give them a way to have a lot of fun on and off the road.
The HR-V is a smaller version of the already top selling CR-V. This little SUV offers a comfortable seating arrangement some fantastic materials throughout the vehicle and plenty of great cargo space. As a power plant the 141 horsepower comes in only three more than the Trax which is the lowest in this comparison and but the 127 lb.-ft. of torque is 21 less than the Trax and takes longer to peak. Overall, the HR-V is highly capable and a great drive for any off roader on some light and medium trails, and with one of the best interiors this is a great choice.
This little SUV offers a great look, especially if you are already a fan of some of the other Fiat lineup. the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine puts out the most power in this comparison, allowing for a good amount of fun on an off the road. Taking some cues from the Jeep cousin the 500x is more than capable in the outdoors, but the cabin room is small and cramped for taller adults, making it a choice that takes some consideration before purchase. There are some great options you can add such as a sunroof and leather seating, but the sun can wash out the infotainment system in the dash, so keep that in mind.
The Renegade is a highly capable player in this class and it better be since it’s a Jeep. the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine purrs loudly as it takes on the road and trails with perfection. the ZF nine-speed automatic transmission handles the job of shifting nicely. Inside the Renegade offers some great space to be enjoyed by up to four people in any place in the vehicle. You can even bring along some gear and the interior looks and feels upscale compared to some of the other offerings on this list.
Kia Soul +
The Soul offers the most equipment for the money at a reasonably low price which does include cooled seats that are an option on nearly every other vehicle on this list. The drive is engaged and dynamic and the style and materials are much better than Kia offered several years ago. As a highly capable off roader that can handle the lighter trails and give you some excellent feedback the Soul is a great choice when it comes to space, equipment, capability and drive.
The CX-3 proves to be a dynamic and leading contender in this list. With the Mazda zip from the powertrain and the upscale materials on the inside this is a small SUV that certainly is easy to enjoy and drive on nearly any road or on the light to medium trails. When you step inside you know you are in for a treat and are about to have a lot of fun in an SUV that offers some of the best driving features and a comfortable place to enjoy them from.
For all the features needed on a small off road capable SUV the scores were pretty easy to understand across the board. Unfortunately for the Chevrolet Trax it pulled up the rear in sixth place with the Honda HR-V not too far ahead in the fifth spot. The Fiat 500X was only able to reign in fourth mostly because of some lacking ability and a high price tag while the Jeep Renegade made it into the third place giving decent showing to the FCA models. Coming in second was the Kia Soul+ which was full of great features at an amazing price but the overall champ with the “zoom zoom” you want and the features you need is the Mazda CX-3 Touring AWD.