The Best Selling Small SUVs

Under $30,000 For Your Family

by Bill Flitter

Small SUVs under $30,000 are the ‘it’ car right now.

I grew up in time when the coolest parents had the latest station wagon with the wood paneling. Our biggest join was sitting in the very back seat facing out the window.

However, my good friend Jeff’s family bucked that trend. They had a Ford Club Wagon with a table in the middle and seats that would fold down into a bed. Now that was cool. But, I digress.

Today, now I’m trying to look ‘cool’ driving the latest family ‘it’ car. The look of the cars might change over the years,  but what remains the same is the need to caravan the family and have enough room for “stuff.”

My wife as you might remember has the Honda Pilot that needs to be replaced. Just as I thought we had narrowed down our choice to the Pilot, 4Runner, and CR-V, she spotted an HR-V. This means I’m back to square one now researching small SUVs. My pain is your gain!

So, I’m on a quest to find the best small SUVs under $30,000 that is also ranked high in safety, reliability and can hold up to the abuse a family of four will soon inflict upon it.

This poor CUV will take abuse from not only my kids but their friends, dirty catcher’s equipment and soccer cleats, a dog that times her vomiting perfectly when we are out of wipes in the car and lovely wife who lets the kids eat in the car (and not clean up afterward). Just young family abuse.

What small SUV is up for that challenge?

small SUVs under $30000

Small SUVs Under $30000

When we look at rankings using U.S. News and World Report’s aggregated data of reviews, we find that sales figures don’t always match the ranking of the vehicle models.

Top 5 highest rated compact SUVs followed by their unit sales ranking.

Small SUV Best Small SUV Rankings
(US News & World Report)
Small SUV Ranked by Sales
(Carjojo Data)
Toyota RAV4 1 11
Honda CR-V 2 1
Ford Escape 3 3
Nissan Rouge 4 9
Chevy Equinox 5 5

When we calculate the compact SUV models with the highest discount and the cheapest prices, many are selling better than the vehicles with the lower discounts and highest prices.

small SUVs under $30000

A Closer Look

Toyota Rav4

The MSRP for the Toyota RAV4 is comparable with its competitors but you can also get a pretty deep discount on it as much as $4,489.00. The RAV4 may not have the best ranking but Toyota is ranked as the most dependable mass-market brand by J.D. Power which may contribute its popularity.

Honda CR-V

Ranked number one by reviews and number two in sales, the Honda CR-V is very popular. It’s selling well without major discounts, but does have the fourth lowest MSRP which keeps its price competitive.

Nissan Rogue

In the case of the Nissan Rogue, it is ranked 9th with a mid-level discount (10). A little fact that ranking does not show is that Rogue has a third row seating option which makes it very popular with large families. With an estimated discount of $3,127.00, the Rogue offers a good value for large families.

small SUVs under $30000
small SUVs under $30000

Ford Escape

The Ford Escape, ranked third in reviews and third in sales is also the most affordable CUV when you factor in discounts. With Carjojo estimated discounts the price can be as low as $18,772.00. This model is the combination of a good ranking and great pricing.

It has the added advantage of falling into a price range that is affordable. According to the June 2017 Auto Buyer’s Affordability Index (ABAI) by Phil Kelton, the price of $19,061 is what a household with median income can afford when they buy a car.

Chevy Equinox

The Chevy Equinox is ranked 5 and is also the fifth highest seller. The MSRP is one of the highest (17th) but it has the highest available discount (1) at as much as $7,816.00. This could figure into buying decisions. It would cost about the average price of a compact SUV.


Unfortunately, for our environment, the hybrid models, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Nissan Rogue Hybrid, have low rankings, low sales, low discounts and high prices.

small SUVs under $30000

Over To You...

Carjojo data shows that the compact SUV market is highly competitive. The vehicles are aggressively priced to sell with high discounts. These offer great ways for SUV buyers to get great deals on models of all rankings.

How much does price figure into your car buying decisions? We welcome your comments below.


Choose from any new SUV at your local dealer.
We’ll negotiate the Lowest Price Guaranteed — Backed by 30 Day Price Match*