Turbochargers are now becoming useful for high-performance compact SUVs. They are a great addition because they make a lot of engine power from a small engine. In general, a turbo can help you go faster, but it also helps save some gas, and what’s wrong with that? These turbocharged SUVs forgo hybrid or EV powertrains to make more juice, and instead stick with old-school forced-air turbos for serious power and big smiles.
In Subaru land, XT versions make fans’ hearts beat faster. Subaru Outbacks run fine with the regular engine, but drop the beloved WRX’s turbocharged 2.4-liter engine, and suddenly they’re comparative rockets. The XT versions reduce the time from 0 to 60 in about two seconds, thanks to the improved engine torque. In this case, the turbo gets worse mileage, but can tow more than the base car. The big setback is that it costs a lot more, about $5,000 trim-to-trim, just to add the extra horses.
The Mazda CX5 turbo adds 69 horsepower to this SUV
Mazda’s CX-5 is already Mazda’s best-selling SUV. The addition of Mazda’s turbocharged engine that adds 69 horsepower only makes it better in our eyes. This SUV, with standard all-wheel drive, is known for its sporty handling and spacious interior. The CX-5 starts at around $27,000, but the 256-horsepower 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G Dynamic Pressure Turbo is a big improvement with a base price of $36,850.
The BMW X3 lives up to its sporty claims
Like many of the others on this list, BMW is turning to turbos to increase power and keep fuel consumption down. The new BMW 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo makes a healthy 248 horsepower and the M Sport Appearance Package helps you maximize your sporting potential. Sure, the new BMW M3 has a giant grille, a smallish cargo hatch, and a hefty price tag, starting at around $43,000. But not many compact SUVs can match this minibus for sporty driving. Look out for the hugely fun M40i package that packs 382 horsepower, according to car and driver.
The Audi Q3 45’s turbo packs a punch
You can order the Audi Q3 with not one, but two different 2.0-liter turbocharged engines, the base 40 getting a 184-horsepower engine and the upgraded 45 model getting 228 horsepower. The Q3 comes standard with all-wheel drive and an interior that’s hard to beat for around $36,000. While it may not be as roomy as others on this list, it has the look of the much more expensive Q8 that gives it a presence that others can’t quite touch.
The GV70 is the new turbo SUV to beat
Genesis relies on turbos to heat up its SUVs. The new GV70, for example, offers two different engines with turbos that promise plenty of power, including a 300-horsepower 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or a 375-horsepower 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6. The GV70 was all-new for 2022 and even won MotorTrend’s SUV of the Year award. Although it makes great power fun to drive at a bargain price, it’s not quite as fast as the more popular version of the compact BMW, Audi or Mercedes SUV.
Turbos add some oomph to Lincoln Corsair SUV luxury
Most people don’t put the Lincoln Corsair in the same class as, say, the Q3 or X3, but the Corsair’s 2.0-liter turbo engine makes 250 horsepower. It’s a low-key SUV that makes a surprising amount of power. Sure, the Corsair is based on the pedestrian Ford Escape, but that means it has all the good things about Ford SUVs, except that it’s covered in leather and wood on the interior. Lincoln’s soft-touch interiors aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who like to fly down the road while being pampered, it’s the one to buy.