They’re small and space efficient because they’re hatchbacks, and they sell well because they’re called crossovers. Which small American CUV is worth buying with real money if you’ve got a $25,000 budget?
The Trax is the oldest of today’s trio. On sale elsewhere since 2013, it arrived in North America in 2015 after GM saw the success of the more upscale Buick Encore. Updated and facelifted for model year 2017, the Trax continues into what’s likely its final model year relatively unchanged. The most upscale Premier trim vanished this year, which leaves the LS and LT. In LT all-wheel-drive trim, the Trax pairs its 1.4-liter inline-four (148 HP) with a six-speed auto, and asks $23,820.
Ford’s EcoSport has been on sale in various markets around the world since 2013, though it didn’t arrive in North America until 2018. That year was a mid-cycle refresh year, and the point Ford was desperate for North American subcompact SUV product. The EcoSport is available in four trims: S, SE, Titanium, and the new SES. Unlike Trax, buyers can choose from either a 1.0-liter three-cylinder or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder on all trims except SES. Today’s budget nets us a mid-level SE trim, with 2.0-liter (166 HP) and all-wheel drive routed through a six-speed auto for $24,950.
Renegade arrived in 2015, as the long-awaited replacement for the Jeep Patriot which seemed to soldier on forever. Sold in a wide variety of configurations around the world, the Renegade is on FCA’s Small Wide platform with the Fiat 500X and Tipo. It was updated and facelifted for the 2019 model year, which switched up engine availability. 2021 brings a dizzying array of eight Renegade trims which we won’t list here. Renegade reaches higher in price than EcoSport or Trax, so we must stick to base Sport 4WD trim today. 180 horses from the 2.4 are sent through a nine-speed automatic. You’ll pay $24,350.
Three subcompact sellers, which one goes home with you?
[Images: GM, Ford, Stellantis]