Every 2021 Compact Luxury SUV Ranked from Best to Worst

The compact luxury SUV class is the bread and butter for luxury automakers. It’s typically where they sell the most models (and make the most money). The luxury compact class has recently seen an infusion of autonomous driver-assistance features, as well as other tech-heavy additions. There are even a handful of all-electric compact luxury SUVs vying for buyers’ attention (and wallets).

Regardless of which you choose, you’ll find upscale materials and a plethora of features, though some pull off a more fully realized cohesive package than others. We rank 16 compact luxury SUVs from best to worst by combining their ratings on driving performance, standard features, design, and value.

16. 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport

a red 2019 land rover discovery sport

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The 2021 Land Rover Discovery Sport’s boxy dimensions allow it to be airy and roomy inside the cabin. Thus, it offers plenty of cargo space. And being a Land Rover, it is more than comfortable heading off-road. What dragged it down to the bottom of our list, however, was the poor reliability ratings and fuel economy. This compact SUV will cost you more in the long run. Drive handling could also be improved, as well as the dated and laggy infotainment system.

15. 2021 Lexus NX

a silver 2019 lexus nx

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Lexus infotainment systems are finicky and unintuitive. That being said, the NX has one of our more preferred interior layouts of any Lexus vehicle we’ve driven, even if the push-start is a little high. Passenger room and cargo area are a little tight compared to other rivals. Complaints aside, the NX has good reliability ratings and great gas mileage (especially on the hybrid version).

14. 2021 Cadillac XT5

a silver 2019 cadillac xt5

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The 2021 Cadillac XT5 adds some additional standard features. Unfortunately, they can only be found on upper trim levels. It has a low base price, but things rise quickly once you leave the entry-level option. As is a common theme in many SUVs, the larger they get, the more the handling and driver feedback suffer. That rings true with the XT5, though its interior cabin is poshly designed and airy.

13. 2021 Infiniti QX50

a dark slate gray 2019 infiniti qx50

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Infiniti’s QX50 has lots of cargo space and a spacious, open cabin. The seats are supportive and comfortable. Unfortunately, the driving experience is just ho-hum. Handling is middle-of-the-road, and engines don’t inspire you to press the metal to the floor. But for some people, that’s all they want. Something that gets them reliably from point A to point B in comfort. We found the infotainment setup to be a little strange, as well.

12. 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

a dark green 2021 alfa romeo stelvio

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You can always count on Alfa Romeo to have some powerful engine options and sports-car-like handling. But when it comes to the Stelvio, the cabin quality is disappointing, especially at such high price points. This is a driver’s machine, therefore, other passenger comforts received second thought. Rear seats are tight and cargo space is below the average for the class.

11. 2021 Jaguar F-Pace

a red 2019 jaguar f-pace

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In the middle of the pack is the Jaguar F-Pace. It has strong engines with taut, responsive handling. There’s even a turbodiesel engine option that returns good gas mileage numbers. When it comes to luxury, though, the interior materials don’t quite match up to more upscale competitors.  This is the compact luxury class after all. We also found the infotainment system to be a bit buggy.

10. 2021 Buick Envision

a silver 2019 buick envision

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The Buick Envision is roomy with comfortable seats. It also features Buick’s trademark intuitive infotainment system. It’s simplistic without being plain or lacking in tech options. The engine, on the other hand, will get you where you need to go but is by no means inspiring. Handling, also, is muddy with little feedback. The Envision may not be as expensive as some of its other competitors, but its interior finishing materials also aren’t as nice as competitors either.

9. 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class

a white mercedes-benz glb-class

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First the bad. The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class has a not-so-great voice recognition system. Sportiness isn’t its forte, either. But this brand-new Mercedes model gets everything else right. It’s surprisingly roomy for the compact size, thanks in part to its boxy proportions. It also has good fuel economy, a luxurious cabin, and solid driving dynamics.

8. 2021 Lincoln Corsair

a black 2020 lincoln corsair parked on the street

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The 2021 Lincoln Corsair took over for the former MKC last year. (Lincoln is moving away from the lettered naming scheme.) The Corsair has an affordable base price; even some nice add-ons don’t raise the price to astronomical numbers. It also floats down the road on a cushy suspension. As for the cons, cargo space is below some competitors, driver feedback is somewhat muddled, and it missed the mark on rear-seat room and comfort.

7. 2021 Acura RDX

a red 2019 acura rdx

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There is a distinct lack of engine upgrades on the Acura RDX, but a sure-footed driving experience makes up for it. The RDX offers driver feedback with a cushy ride and follows where you want it to go. There are plenty of tech options and packages to choose from at great price points. This is one of the better bangs for your buck among the compact luxury class.

6. 2021 BMW X4

a black 2019 bmw x4

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The X4 is stylish to look at with its couple-like sloping roofline. But if you want a sports car, get a sports car. In an SUV, this styling drastically limits rearward visibility, and it makes the cabin feel cramped especially in the rear. Obviously, this eats into cargo space as well. With excellent handling and powerful engines, the X4 is fun to drive. The cabin, however, seems a little low-key for the price point.

5. 2021 Audi Q5

a blue 2019 audi q5

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The Audi Q5 compact crossover is a sweet deal. The interior is well laid out and features an array of standard offerings and helpful tech. The comfortable driving dynamics are powered by dynamic and energetic engines. It honestly feels like a smaller vehicle than it is. The only drawback is that it’s a little pricey when comparing it to others.

4. 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

a white 2019 mercedes-benz glc-class

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First with the bad. The infotainment system takes some getting used to, and the coupe models have small cargo capacity (which, honestly, is expected). But overall, the GLC-Class has a truly luxurious cabin environment. The driving experience is smooth and comfortable, and there are plenty of standard features along with an extensive list of add-ons.

3. 2021 Volvo XC60

a red 2019 volvo xc60

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Being Volvo, safety is key. There are a plethora of standard safety and driver assistance features that come standard, even more so on the upper trims. The interior layout, particularly the infotainment dash, is minimalist and clean. Seats are comfortable and now feature synthetic leather for all you vegan and animal welfare buyers. (For those that aren’t, it’s claimed to be easier to maintain and clean). It’s a solid driver, but not as peppy as some other options. A plug-in hybrid model is also available.

2. 2021 BMW X3

a dark blue 2019 bmw x3

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As with the mechanically identical X4, the interior seems like somewhat of an afterthought, which is surprising from BMW. They don’t usually phone it in. But when it comes to driving dynamics, they are at the top of their game with the X3. It’s agile and responsive while simultaneously feeling roomy and spacious on the inside. This is the standard-bearer of BMW SUVs (though they call them Sport Activity Vehicles or SAVs).

1. 2021 Porsche Macan

a light gray 2021 porsche macan driving on a city street

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The Porsche Macan may have smaller-than-average rear seats and cargo space, but when it’s this fun to drive, you can afford to overlook some week points. Handling is dynamic and pinpoint-precise. Powerful engines will have you revving all around town, and the interior is the definition of premium. If you want that new turbo V6, however, you’re going to have to shell out for it.