Yes, you can buy many for $40,000. These five prove that you can get a sporty, practical, premium-badged SUV for that money, too. Edmunds experts picked these five extra small SUVs, or as the EPA puts it, subcompacts, as best-in-class. It’s hard to fault any of these, and they all seem to come to a similar answer to the question.
No. 1: Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class
Mercedes-Benz’s smallest SUV packs a lot and makes for a compelling package for buyers who may not have considered a Benz before. It has small G-Class looks and lots of the technology you’d find on the G-Class, for about a third of the price. The baby Benz features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 221 horsepower and can feel downright quick, thanks to its quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission.
It offers one thing others on this list of compact SUVs don’t: It has an optional third row. While that third row with two seats is tight, it gives this luxury SUV an extra ounce of practicality. The GLB250 starts at under $40,000, but all-wheel drive and other options can quickly send the price down to $45,000.
No. 2: BMW X1
It’s the extra small luxury SUV by which others are judged. The smallest Bimmer is also the brand’s best-selling SUV, with what appears to be the largest grille. BMW has completely redesigned the small SUV for 2023, and it’s grown a few inches in every direction, which makes it look much bigger on the inside than the previous version. That extra wheelbase also added to its sporty handling. This isn’t an off-road SUV, but all-wheel drive is standard for bad weather situations.
It comes with a 241 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine that gives it a surprising amount of power. It is faster than, for example, Mercedes and also has a dual-clutch automatic transmission. The X1 now starts at around $40,000.
No. 3: Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
While people consider the GLA to be an SUV, many of you are probably scratching your heads. The GLA, you see, comes in a sedan or tall SUV form. The GLA Coupe, or four-door, is the smallest and cheapest Benz, while the SUV keeps the $38,000 price tag on the SUV side. Unlike the GLB, it is more of a tall car and offers a higher seating position and some extra space under the tailgate.
While the GLA isn’t as luxurious as other Benz SUVs and its interior is a bit spartan, it still feels like a high-quality SUV.
No.4: Audi Q3
Since 2017 Audi has been the best-selling vehicle of any type. It’s lively, it’s stylish, it’s roomy, and it drives more like a sports car than a tall SUV. Not much has changed since its introduction in 2017, but that’s okay because this $38,000 extra-small luxury SUV packs a lot of value. It comes with a 184-horsepower or 228-horsepower four-cylinder, and while the bigger engine is more fun, you have to give the turbo a second to get to your right fit.
Number 5: Volvo XC40
The Volvo XC40 ranks high for different reasons than the others on this list. Sure, it starts at around the same $38,000 and has a competitive 194-horsepower engine or a powerful 247-horsepower four-cylinder. It takes its Swedish heritage seriously, and inside it looks like a mid-century rolling sculpture. Volvo knows its buyer better than most, though: The XC40 is full of clever touches like a to-go bag hook on the dashboard and a removable waste bin in the center console.