$50,000 budget: what’s the best new compact SUV?
“I want to buy a new compact SUV. I hesitated in between Toyota RAV4 and one Volkswagen Tiguan, but I am not closed to other models. I’m looking for the best value for my $50,000 budget. Which one do you suggest me? -Nancy
The compact SUV category is very busy due to the strong demand for this type of vehicle. So it becomes easy to lose your mind. We understand that you have questions before proceeding with the transaction. Let’s go over the two vehicles you’ve targeted together to see if they fit your budget, or if it’s better to look elsewhere.
Toyota RAV4: a safe bet, cable controversy notwithstanding
If you follow RPM, you may know that we have removed our recommendation for Toyota RAV4 due to a serious defect associated with the high voltage cable of the Hybrid and Prime models. So we must wait until the manufacturer finds a practical solution to the problem before recommending this model again.
However, if this is an ordinary RAV4, that is, powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder heat engine (203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque), you have to admit that this is a model that delivers the goods very well , both in terms of equipment for the price, versatility (1,976 liters in total), maintenance costs and, above all, reliability and resale value.
For the best value for money, I suggest you go for the XLE AWD version. Not only will you benefit from all-wheel drive, but you’ll also have a nice list of standard equipment on hand, for a final price of $38,794. This is a hard offer to beat.
Volkswagen Tiguan: paid a little too much
The Tiguan is far from a bad car. On the contrary, RPM recommends its purchase due to a generally acceptable reliability record and an impressive resale value, not to mention the fact that it is very spacious, comfortable and quite versatile (1,849 liters in total) . It is also possible to install a third row of seats. Convenient if you have kids to take along.
However, we fault it for being too expensive. For example, if you want the same equipment as a RAV4 XLE AWD, you’ll have to pay $41,559 for the Comfortline version, which includes a $1,500 sunroof option.
There is also a decline in the build quality of the products. volkswagen for several years, and Tiguan was arguably the model hardest hit by the cuts. And while its 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque) has proven reliable compared to the Toyota, Volkswagen products just don’t cut it. Personally, I would remove the Tiguan from your list of target models.
Surprising models: Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester
There are SUVs in this segment that pleasantly surprised us and didn’t necessarily get the attention they deserved. For example, buyers aren’t used to putting the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain twins on their shopping list, but in fact these models perform well, are surprisingly reliable, and come at an attractive price.
For example, a very well used Chevrolet Equinox Premier will cost you $38,087. You get all-wheel drive, plenty of standard equipment and a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine that’s proven reliable. Its only real flaw is its lower resale value compared to the Japanese competition. Must be considered when reselling the vehicle.
Then there’s the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester. As for the Mazda, although it is significantly more compact than the segment average (total cargo space of 1,679 liters), it is a very well-built, attractive, reliable and sporty SUV.
For less than $40,000, you can get a very good used copy. Ditto for the Subaru Forester which puts more emphasis on comfort and safety. Honestly, I don’t know of many SUVs that can keep up with a Subaru Forester in a good snowstorm!
Please note that all the models listed above are recommended by the RPM team. Be sure, however, to compare each model according to your needs. With that, happy shopping!
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