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2019 Subcompact SUV of the Year: Kona, Crosstrek or Kicks?

Auto123.com will be crowning winners of the 2019 Auto123.com Awards for best vehicles of the year on November 21 in Toronto. We’ve already unveiled the three finalists in each of the 19 categories; today we look in more detail at the Subcompact SUV of the Year finalists.

Our ranking of the Top 10 Subcompact SUVs in Canada in 2018

Hyundai Kona

Hyundai has used a two-step process to introduce its Kona, one of the most compelling models produced by the Korean automaker in recent years. In getting in the game in the subcompact SUV segment, Hyundai was not exactly taking a huge risk, but the quality of what it’s come up with has resulted in an instant success.

The Kona is attractive, well-designed and fun to drive, and it delivers great value. What’s more, an electric version of the Kona is about to hit the market, boasting of a range in excess of 400 km.

Hyundai Kona
Photo: Hyundai
Hyundai Kona

Subaru Crosstrek

The Crosstrek (initially called the XV Crosstrek) was introduced back in 2013. The second generation that debuted in 2018 eliminated some of the weaknesses of the crossover, namely an overly-denuded interior and road handling best described as “rustic”.

The new Crosstrek is a much more refined product, while retaining the winning exterior design that its predecessor had already gotten right. And then there’s that ubiquitous all-wheel-drive system Subarus are so deservedly renowned for, which means you can take your Crosstrek just about anywhere. In this regard, there’s no other vehicle in its category that comes close to it. Here's our review of the 2019 Crosstrek.

Subaru Crosstrek
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Subaru Crosstrek

Nissan Kicks

While it was never officially put that way, the Kicks is in effect the replacement in the Nissan lineup for the departed Juke. That said, there are substantial differences between the two. For one thing, controversial styling of the Juke has given way to a look that’s less outrageous but more appealing overall. The new Kicks has more of the esthetic qualities needed to seduce a wide range of consumers.

Another difference is that the Kicks does not offer all-wheel drive, which the Juke did. Nissan has conceived this model to appeal as a more-affordable solution for consumers who can settle for a front-wheel drive system, as long as they get the benefits of a decent-sized SUV. In terms of driving dynamics, meanwhile, the Kicks performs well with gusts up to impressively. It will surprise many who try it…

Here's our review of the 2018 Kicks.

Nissan Kicks
Photo: D.Boshouwers
Nissan Kicks