Buying Guides

2017 Best Subcompact Luxury Crossovers

When fun and great design come before space and utility

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Did anyone see this odd segment coming? We did. The prevalence of tiny crossovers is only growing, and luxury carmakers latched onto the trend like a remora on a hapless shark. The result? Some of the best-looking crossovers regardless of size. Not only do they offer up racy looks, but they're nimbler than bigger versions and with all-wheel-drive, they can manage snowy city streets with aplomb. Here are the best ones out there today.

2017 Mercedez-Benz GLA Class

  • PROS: Great driving dynamics, excellent set of optional safety technology, agile in urban traffic, interior that looks above its pay grade, GLA45 AMG is a ferocious little beast.
  • CONS: Can get noisy inside, very firm ride that doesn't feel luxurious, some controls feel cheap.

The GLA Class is the crossover version of the CLA Class sedan, meant to be an entry-level Merc crossover, and the label fits. It's a youth-oriented tiny Teutonic titan that's fun to drive and attractive both inside and out. For 2017, the GLA gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the controls have been revised, and the colorful display screen gets thinned out. It's a fun crossover to drive if you can get past the small cargo section.

2017 Lexus NX 200t

  • PROS: Edgy design separates it from the crowd, interior fit and finish are top notch, drives smoothly, second row has a surprising amount of room, F Sport trim makes it even more aggressive, can get pricey with options.
  • CONS: Infotainment system is frustrating with imprecise controls, cargo capacity is small, can look awkward in some colors.

Lexus just wants to be different, and the NX 200t's more contemporary look may be off-putting to some. On the plus side, very few crossovers at this price are this well put together. The interior is one of the best examples of great build quality. It's a luxury crossover that turns heads and delivers a good driving experience.

2017 Infiniti QX30

  • PROS: Truly sexy exterior design, nimble driving manners, excellent materials and layout inside.
  • CONS: Noisy at highway speeds, small cargo area.

This might just be the best-looking one in the entire segment thanks to big, swoopy lines and a sleek silhouette. The fact that drives better than the Mercedes GLA, with whom it shares the same framework and engine, means it's at the top of the heap. Sit inside, and find yourself awash in a great cabin that's up there with the Germans. It's a head-turner from every angle, as well.

2017 BMW X1

  • PROS: Potent turbocharged engine moves it quickly, excellent driving dynamics for a crossover, well-appointed cabin, solid cargo room for a crossover of this size.
  • CONS: Rear-wheel drive layout is sadly no more, can get expensive with options, Sport suspension isn't exactly compliant over bumps.

The X1 is a blend of sedan/crossover/station wagon, and though it might seem diluted, it's surprising in many ways. First of all, it drives like a BMW, meaning pretty damned good. Second, it's more spacious inside than you'd expect. Third, BMW didn't scrimp on the truly attractive interior. If you're looking for a truly excellent driving crossover, look no further. It's also one where you don't have to give up on space, not something every member of this set can say.

2017 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

  • PROS: Fun to drive, truly handsome exterior, luxurious interior materials and design, solid fuel economy numbers, comes in two-door, four-door and even a convertible.
  • CONS: Cramped second row seats, pricier than its competitors.

If it's truly high style you want, look no further than the Evoque's brand badge and sleek looks. Recently refreshed, it's really one of the best-looking crossovers of any size. The sloping roof, the large wheels, and that Land Rover fascia give it gravitas. It's also no slouch when it comes to features, providing leather seat upholstery, a panoramic glass roof and an 11-speaker audio system standard. The sophisticated British ethos comes free of charge, as does the excellent driving manners.

2017 Audi Q3

  • PROS: Refined ride, beautiful interior, larger cargo section than some of the competition, robust optional equipment set.
  • CONS: Small-ish second row, dated infotainment system, lackluster fuel economy numbers.

Though the Q3 has only been in the states since 2017, it's actually a bit long-in-the-tooth compared to newer competition because it's been sold overseas before it was introduced here. It's somewhat unrefined turbo four lags behind in terms of gas mileage, and its infotainment system isn't Audi's latest. Nevertheless, the Q3 is a handsome vehicle with an excellent interior and good driving manners, as well as practical cargo space. If you want to wait until the redesign in the 2018 model, it should be vastly improved, but the 2017 is still a solid buy.

What's the point of a tiny, fancy crossover?

  • No one expects real utility, so designers can be more daring with their designs.
  • They sit a little higher than sporty cars, so drivers have a better field of view.
  • Shoppers can have premium style without breaking the bank.