A lot can happen in two years, especially in a vehicle class as competitive as compact SUVs, which has become the heart of the American market. Since our last comparison in 2019, two of our competitors — the Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Rogue — have been fully redesigned and 2019’s winner, the Volkswagen Tiguan, has been updated. Did it make a difference? You bet it did.
In addition to a shakeup in the rankings, we saw the furtherance of some trends, including two unwelcome ones: the proliferation of touch-sensitive controls in lieu of mechanical buttons and needlessly firmer ride quality in what are essentially family haulers. And once again, the point spread between contestants in one of our comparison tests continued to shrink, to just 9.6% of the overall points between the top- and bottom-ranked finishers (in 2019, the spread was 13.1% for seven contestants).
All of this year’s vehicles were the highest trim levels offered, equipped with four-cylinder engines and all-wheel drive. The exact model years, trim levels and drivelines we tested and their final ranking were:
1. 2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum
2. 2022 Hyundai Tucson Limited
3. 2021 Subaru Forester Touring
4. 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line
5. 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander SEL 2.5 S-AWC
6. 2021 Honda CR-V Touring
Note that both the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 were invited, but their brands declined. As always, our results apply specifically to the vehicles we tested as equipped and priced — not the entire model line. Careful shoppers will view our likes and dislikes below for each car and decide what matters most to them. The Good and Bad entries are arranged in descending order of their importance to the judges — Editor-in-Chief Jenni Newman, Managing Editor Joe Bruzek and News Editor Brian Normile — and their influence on the results.
All judging categories could earn a maximum of 30 points with the exception of value, which allows a maximum of 60 points. The following graphic shows all categories and the various wins and losses at a glance.