Buying Guides

2018 Best Small Luxury Crossovers

Big on style, not huge on space

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

One of the most competitive parts of the industry is the small luxury crossover segment. This extremely popular segment is comprised of vehicles that can do it all. They're luxurious, sporty, practical, and comfy. Competition is fierce, but there are a few that manage to stand out. Here are our favorites.

2018 BMW X3

  • PROS: Strong engine lineup, excellent handing, comfy, and well-laid out cabin.
  • CONS: Non-dramatic styling, can get very expensive, few standard features.

The 2018 BMW X3 is the luxury crossover to get if you want a good all-around vehicle that can take on a twisty road with gusto. Its exterior is attractive but not extremely interesting, and the interior is more of the same. It’s staid, practical, and sophisticated. Aside from its quality driving dynamics, the model excels in ease of use, top-notch interior materials, and high-quality infotainment system. The only bad thing about the BMW is its lack of standard equipment and the significant rise in price as you add optional equipment.

2018 Porsche Macan

  • PROS: Fast and fun, excellent handling, quality technology, and quiet on the road.
  • CONS: A bit thirsty, not as much space in the cabin or cargo area as competitors, higher price than most rivals.

With a crossover from Porsche, you expect it to handle well and be fast and fun. The Macan certainly delivers in these areas. Add in the attractive and sporty styling to the equation, and you have a quality machine. The Macan gets high marks for its technology, too offering an up to date infotainment system and plenty of available features. The main downside to this model is that its upscale cabin is a little on the smaller side. Its cargo area is also smaller than much of the competition, making this one of the less practical vehicles in this segment.

2019 Acura RDX

  • PROS: More affordable starting price than rivals, good handling and power, roomier than competitors, eye-catching styling outside and in, all-new infotainment system.
  • CONS: New tech might seem confusing, edgy styling isn’t for everyone.

Acura has a new RDX for the 2019 model year, but it’s out right now. The model is completely new and offers a better driving experience, cabin, and technology than ever before. It’s also the most spacious in its class. The model’s strong engine and all-new, exclusive platform put its handling prowess almost on par with BMW, and its new True Touchpad Interface infotainment system is revolutionary. The new technology is good, but it might take a little getting used to. If you can figure it out, and you like the styling, the RDX might be the perfect ride.

2018 Volvo XC60

  • PROS: Sophisticated styling, smooth on the road, smartly crafted cabin, and plenty of safety tech.
  • CONS: Infotainment system can be slow at times, turbo lag, not the most engaging to drive.

If you’re looking for the most stylish luxury crossover and a silky smooth ride, you should look no further than the Volvo XC60. This model won SUV of the Year at the North American International Auto Show for 2018 for good reason. It’s very well rounded. It’s practical, offers good driving dynamics (though it’s not super sporty), a spacious interior, and modern tech in terms of infotainment and safety. Drivers seeking a sporty experience should look to BMW and Porsche. Also, the infotainment system is a little on the slower side, but otherwise, there’s not much to dislike.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

  • PROS: Superb handling for a crossover, lots of personality, styling like no other crossover.
  • CONS: Tighter cabin quarters than competition, thirstier than its competition, poor predicted reliability.

If you want a crossover that has style and the heart and soul of an Italian sports car, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio is an excellent choice. Less utilitarian than basically every other vehicle on this list, the Stelvio is built for style and the most tightly twisted road you can find. All that said, it does bring comfortable seating and a respectably sized, albeit smaller than the competition, cargo space. If you’re willing to pay for Italian styling, love driving, and don’t mind lower than average predicted reliability the Stelvio is a real winner.

2018 Jaguar F-Pace

  • PROS: Sexy big cat looks in crossover form, feels athletic on the road, quick with the right engine, roomy cabin.
  • CONS: Firmer ride than many competitors, below average predicted reliability rating, infotainment needs improvement.

Jaguar has a crossover, and it’s almost as elegant as the brand’s sedans and sports cars. The F-Pace crossover offers a comfortable and spacious interior, a robust engine lineup, and looks that will make your neighbors envious. The model has modern technology, but its infotainment system can be a little frustrating to use. Also, it has a harsher, sportier ride than some of the competition. If you want a diesel you can get it, which is a bit of a novelty in this segment. Unfortunately, the diesel engine isn’t nearly as quick as the gasoline ones. That said, it is miserly with fuel, so you have a choice to make: do you want your big cat to go fast or go far?

2018 Audi Q5

  • PROS: Perhaps the quietest and most solid in the segment, sophisticated and refined all over, smooth and pleasurable to drive, attractive and far from over-the-top styling.
  • CONS: Some will find its style and driving characteristics boring.

Some people may say the Audi Q5 is boring to look at, but we find it to be very attractive. It’s a subdued style we like a lot, and that same sensibility translates into the driving characteristics. The Q5 is competent on a curvy road, but not super sporty. The interior is as sleek, sophisticated, and ergonomically correct. The infotainment system has plenty of features and is easy to use. Our biggest complaint with the Q5 is that it seems to have no soul. It’s the opposite of something like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, and for many people, that’s just fine.

What to look for in a good small luxury crossover

  • Standard or optional all-wheel drive.
  • Upscale materials and solid infotainment tech.
  • Strong engine and practical space for five.