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Best Cheap SUVs: Top 10 Crossover SUVs Under $30,000

Culled from the hundreds of variations on sale, here are the ten best crossover SUVs available for under $30,000. They include subcompact, compact, and midsize models. Each is equipped with all-wheel drive and presented in the most desirable trim level available within our price cap; one, the new Mazda CX-3, is even the top-of-the-line version. They are all great values for the money. (Note that prices include the manufacturer’s destination fee, which average around $900.)

1. 2016 Buick Encore Convenience: Affordable Luxury
$28,780 as equipped

This small SUV has been surprisingly popular since its model-year 2013 launch and is without question the most luxurious subcompact crossover for the money. With a 138-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder its sole engine, acceleration is just OK, but handling is very and the ride pleasingly smooth. Encore stands out from the growing crowd of subcompact crossovers with an interior that’s well-finished and, thanks to the tall roofline and upright seating, unexpectedly roomy. It’s trimmed in top-quality materials and features an easy-to-operate touchscreen media control panel. What’s more, the passenger compartment is by far the quietest in this class – better even than some larger and far costlier SUVs – thanks to a sophisticated electronic noise cancellation system and assorted sound absorbing materials that minimize road and wind noise. Even the base Encore comes with a long list of features, and compared with class rivals on a feature-to-feature basis, any version is a solid value for the money. Best buy is the midgrade Convenience trim with all-wheel-drive. It comes nicely outfitted with a power driver’s seat, satellite radio, full Bluetooth mobile-phone integration, and a blind spot monitor with cross-traffic alert. New for 2016, the Sport Touring model adds a slightly quicker 153-hp turbo four-cylinder and specific trim items, but commands a $1,000 premium over the similarly equipped Convenience version for not much payback. Among Encore downsides, the styling is a little odd, and keyless entry with pushbutton start is unavailable.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]