Top 10 2020 Compact SUVs by Customer Satisfaction

Each year, J.D. Power surveys thousands of verified new-vehicle owners to learn what has gone right and what has gone wrong with their newly acquired vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership. The information gathered from thousands of answered questionnaires forms the building blocks of three benchmark industry studies, including the annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, which we examine here.

2020 Ford Escape Titanium Red Front View

The results of the study give a valuable look at car owners' experiences with the design, performance, safety, usability, comfort, and perceived quality of their vehicles. The analysis of the data enables J.D. Power researchers to create an index score that allows for comparison between models. Both the overall index score and the model's ranking in its category provide insight on the vehicles that perform best in satisfying their customers. In APEAL, the higher the index score, the better the model performs in terms of delivering overall customer satisfaction.

In this article, we profile the highest-rated 2020 compact SUVs for customer satisfaction, according to the consumers who own them. Due to tie scores among some vehicles, 12 models comprise the top 10 slots on the list, and they are listed in order by APEAL index score with the highest-ranking vehicle at the top and the rest in descending rank order. The average index score for this segment is 829.

1. 2020 Ford Escape in a tie with Mazda CX-5 – Highest Compact SUV in Customer Satisfaction According to Consumers! - Find the best Ford deals!

All-new for the 2020 model year, the Ford Escape is a 5-passenger compact SUV that is available with front- or all-wheel-drive. Powertrains include a 180-horsepower turbocharged 3-cylinder, a 250-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder, and two hybrid drivetrains: conventional and plug-in. In tech, the standard infotainment system has a 4.2-inch display, while an 8.0-inch touchscreen system with navigation, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hot spot is available. This Ford offers 33.5 cu.-ft. of space behind the rear seat and 65.4 cu.-ft. when the rear seat is folded down.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Ford Escape is 841 in a tie with Mazda CX-5, and the Ford Escape receives an APEAL award in the Compact SUV segment. 

1. 2020 Mazda CX-5 in a tie with Ford Escape – Highest Compact SUV in Customer Satisfaction According to Consumers! - Find the best Mazda deals!

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 is a versatile 5-passenger compact SUV that benefits from added standard driver-assistance features for the model year. The base version is a front-drive vehicle, while all-wheel-drive is available. Under the hood you’ll find a 187-horsepower 4-cylinder engine or a 227-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. A diesel was offered in 2019, but not for 2020. Both 7.0- and 8.0-inch infotainment systems are offered, the latter with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Mazda supplies 30.9 cu.-ft. feet of space behind the rear seats and 59.6 cu.-ft. with the back seats folded down.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Mazda CX-5 is 841 in a tie with Ford Escape, and the Mazda CX-5 receives an APEAL award in the Compact SUV segment. 

2. 2020 GMC Terrain - Find the best GMC deals!

The 2020 GMC Terrain compact SUV traded its diesel engine option for additional safety features for the model year. The diesel engine is not available anymore, but the Terrain does offer a 170-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder and a 252-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Both are paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission, and this GMC can be had with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The SUV offers as many as six USB ports, including Type-C ports, and the car can be its own Wi-Fi hotspot. The Terrain has 29.6 cu.-ft. of cargo space with the rear seats in use and 63.3 cu.-ft. when they're folded down.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 GMC Terrain is 839. 

3. 2020 Subaru Forester - Find the best Subaru deals!

The 2020 Subaru Forester is a compact crossover SUV that seats five passengers and features all-wheel drive as standard equipment. It has a 182-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine coupled to a continuously variable automatic transmission. On the safety front, a rear-seat reminder system is added to the Subaru as standard equipment for 2020. A 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen optional. The Subaru Forester has a substantial 35.4 cu.-ft. of cargo area space behind the rear seats and 76.1 cu.-ft. with the rear seats folded down.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Subaru Forester is 835. 

4. 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander - Find the best Mitsubishi deals!

The 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander compact SUV has a new SP trim level for 2020, but it remains very similar to the 2019 version. This Mitsubishi can transport as many as seven people with its third-row seat, a rarity in the segment. Both 7.0- and 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment systems are available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Three powertrains are on the menu. You can get a 166-horsepower 4-cylinder with front-wheel or all-wheel-drive, a 224-horsepower V-6 with AWD, or a plug-in hybrid system with front and rear electric motors. The cargo area will hold 34.2 cu.-ft. behind the second-row seat and as much as 66.6 cu.-ft. with the rear seats folded down.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander 834.

5. 2020 Chevrolet Equinox - Find the best Chevrolet deals!

The 2020 Chevrolet Equinox compact SUV is mostly unchanged from the 2019 model with the exception of some new driver-assistance tech and the deletion of a diesel engine option. The 5-passenger crossover is a front-driver in base form, but all-wheel-drive is on the options list. It offers a 170-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder or a potent 252-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. The infotainment system has a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen, and Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot are standard. There is 29.9 cu.-ft. of cargo space behind the rear seats, and with them folded this Chevrolet offers 63.9 cu.-ft. of cargo room.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Chevrolet Equinox is 833.

6. 2020 Honda CR-V - Find the best Honda deals!

The 2020 Honda CR-V is a compact SUV available with front-drive or all-wheel-drive. A 190-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is the lone conventional powerplant, and a hybrid model featuring a combined 212 horsepower is also available. This Honda seats five people, and it offers a hefty 39.2 cu.-ft. of room behind the rear seats and 75.8 cu.-ft. with the rear seats folded down. Standard tech includes a 5.0-inch touchscreen, but a 7.0-inch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is available. On the safety front, Honda has made its Honda Safety Sensing suite of equipment standard across the Honda CR-V line for 2020. 

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Honda CR-V is 831.

7. 2020 Nissan Rogue in a tie with the Volkswagen Tiguan - Find the best Nissan deals!

A 5-passenger vehicle available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the 2020 Nissan Rogue has a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine teamed with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The 7.0-inch touchscreen-operated infotainment system has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth, and this SUV includes Nissan Safety Shield 360 as standard equipment. This Nissan provides significant cargo room, too, with 39.3 cu.-ft. behind the rear seats and 70.0 cu.-ft. with the rear seats folded down. A completely redesigned Rogue arrives for 2021.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Nissan Rogue is 828 in a tie with the Volkswagen Tiguan.

7. 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan in a tie with the Nissan Rogue - Find the best Volkswagen deals!

The 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan brings a European look and feel to a segment dominated by domestic and Asian offerings. The compact crossover SUV is powered by a 184-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with an 8-speed conventional automatic transmission. Front-wheel-drive models seat seven people in three rows, while all-wheel-drive models seat either five or seven. The 5-passenger version of this Volkswagen offers up to 73.5 cu. ft. of cargo space with the rear seats folded, while the 7-passenger offers 65.7 cu. ft. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included in the standard 6.5-inch touchscreen system.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan is 828 in a tie with the Nissan Rogue.

8. 2020 Hyundai Tucson - Find the best Hyundai deals!

The 5-passenger 2020 Hyundai Tucson is a compact SUV that is available with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Largely unchanged for the 2020 model year, this Hyundai offers a choice between a 161-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine or a 181-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. Both are backed by a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission. Tech includes both 7.0- and 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment systems with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth, and wireless phone charging is available too. Cargo space measures 31.0 cu.-ft. behind the rear seats and 61.9 cu.-ft. with the rear seats folded. A redesigned Hyundai Tucson arrives soon.

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Hyundai Tucson is 827.

9. 2020 Toyota RAV4 - Find the best Toyota deals!

A new TRD off-road model joins the Toyota RAV4 lineup for 2020, and the addition of Android Auto is another welcome change. The RAV4 has a 203-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Or you can opt for the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid that offers a total of 219 horsepower. The RAV4 is available in either front-wheel or all-wheel-drive, but the hybrid version includes AWD as standard. Five passengers will find ample room in this Toyota, and cargo space is 37.6 cu.-ft. behind the rear seats and up to 69.8 cu.-ft. with the the rear seats folded down. 

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Toyota RAV4 is 826.

10. 2020 Kia Sportage - Find the best Kia deals!

The 2020 Kia Sportage compact SUV seats five and offers two powertrain options. The base engine is a 181-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, while the up-level engine is a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Both engines are backed by conventional 6-speed automatic transmissions. When it comes to cargo space, the Kia offers 30.7 cu.-ft. behind the rear seats and 60.1 cu.-ft. with the rear seats folded. The base infotainment unit features a large 8.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. 

The APEAL index score for the 2020 Kia Sportage is 825.