My choice for “Small SUV” is based on reliability, AWD, ground clearance and the ability to accommodate a wide bar spread for those of us who are sea kayakers. Over the past 25 years, my wife and I have had 7 Subarus. I have had a 2005 Forester and currently drive a 2011 Forester. The ’05 had integral roof rails and the 2011 has raised roof rails. Both have allowed a huge bar spread.
I considered a Honda CRV and ruled it out because for years they have narrow set attachment points that are fine for a white water kayak, skis or a bike. We have also had an Outback with raised roof rails that was equally good. Another plus for the Forester is that for a little more money you can get the Premium edition which has 8-way adjustable seats with a separate lumbar support & a molded cargo tray that welcomes sand and wet gear.