Car Reviews

Best Small SUV in 2024

Best Small SUV in 2024: Best Small Car Review

The small SUV segment has ballooned in recent years, with most major automakers now fielding one or more offerings catering to Australian buyers. 

Blending car-like driving dynamics with the practicality of added ride height and available all-wheel drive systems, their family-friendly packaging and flexible dynamics make them popular picks across urban and rural owners alike.

With countless options now on offer, we’ve identified the five best new small SUVs entering the 2023 model year. 

Assessing criteria like safety technology, cabin appointments, drivetrain performance, and value positioning, our comprehensive testing determines which balances buyer priorities for those seeking compact SUV motoring.

Hyundai Kona n Line Small SUV in 2023 
Hyundai Kona n Line Small SUV in 2023

Hyundai Kona N Line

The previous-generation Hyundai Kona made a strong debut by packaging style technology and driving pizazz into an exciting offering upon its 2018 launch. Its funky styling and vibrant dynamics saw respectable sales against established category favorites.

However, its Achilles heel centered on relatively cramped rear accommodation and smallish boot compared to rivals – significant detractors in an otherwise stellar package.

Hyundai has answered the critics emphatically with its all-new 2023 Kona range. An increased footprint brings welcomed space upgrades for passengers and luggage alike, with premium materials wrapping the cabin in an upscale ambiance uncommon at this end of the market.

The tech story impresses, too, thanks to an expansive 10.25-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster pushing boundaries in the segment. 

Latest connectivity via wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto joins multi-Bluetooth pairing and over-the-air update capability for future-proofed user experience for tech-savvy customers.

But the Kona still majors on driver appeal. Its 1.6-liter turbo engine packs a feisty 146kW punch while the quick-shifting 8-speed auto swaps cog smoothly. 

Sporty suspension tuning strikes a handy balance offering taut body control without harshness over bumps. So engaging dynamics remain, now wrapped in more urbane styling.

Priced from $46,500 in flagship N Line specification, the Kona brings performance, style, and features for the money. 

Mazda CX-30

Mazda enters the 2023 model year with an enhanced CX-30 range, subtly massaging one of the category’s perennial front runners and maintaining showroom appeal. 

Subtle styling tweaks, cabin additions, plus extended active safety coverage across the board make a great recipe incrementally better again.

Few small SUVs can match the Mazda’s beautifully crafted cabin blending tasteful ambience with strong ergonomics. 

Swathes of soft-touch textures present elegantly across the dashboard, complemented by premium leather and satin trims. The human-centric design focus creates a relaxing ambiance during urban duty.

While electronics functionality trails newer category entries, the core user experience impresses nonetheless. 

Mazda’s MZD Connect system brings intuitive rotary controller operation for infotainment, including sat-nav plus Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity. Crisp graphics and simple menus make light work of inputs on the go.

Keen drivers will also delight at the CX-30’s chassis balance poise. Responsive steering combines with a controlled body roll for an agile, engaging cornering attitude belying its jacked-up ride height. 

Tight damping ensures smaller bumps barely register without harsh reactions from larger hits. It remains one of the sharpest steerers in class.

Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai
Nissan Qashqai

Nissan fired a significant shot across competitor bows by heavily updating its popular Qashqai compact SUV for the 2023 model year. Sleek new styling ushers in richer features, upgraded driving technologies, and a bold value premise to court conquest buyers.

Visually, the Qashqai adopts Nissan’s latest family look to great effect. Distinctive LED lighting signatures front and rear frame chiseled bodywork for genuine curbside appeal. Range-topping variants upgrade 19-inch alloys and floating roof design for a properly premium presence.

Generous dimensions bless the cabin with space for five adult occupants. Usefully large door pockets supplement cupholders, and USB inputs are across both rows for passenger convenience. 

Luggage capacity measures up well at 504 liters, expanding to 1447 liters seats folded. Nissan’s latest 12.3-inch TFT instruments pair with a 9-inch touchscreen interface controlling the latest sat-nav mapping and smartphone mirroring capability. 

Wireless Apple CarPlay joins wired Android Auto, Bluetooth, and integrated apps like online search. It’s a modern and intuitive system, making connectivity seamless.

Qashqai grades also introduce Nissan’s advanced ProPilot assist system, enabling semi-autonomous single-lane highway driving. 

Allowing hands-off operation at speeds up to 110km/h, the system accelerates, brakes, and steers automatically for reduced driver fatigue. It pushes boundaries for driving convenience.

Priced from $47,490 in flagship Ti guise, the Qashqai stacks up strongly for family buyers wanting style, space, and technology in a high-value package.

Subaru Crosstrek

A familiar hero returns for 2023 as Subaru’s capable Crosstrek brings trademark virtues of voluminous accommodation, pillowy ride comfort, and renowned off-road toughness to the compact SUV fight. 

Essentially a lifted Impreza wagon, its car-like manners blended with added versatility at an agreeable price see dependable appeal.

The Crosstrek cabin majors on space efficiency thanks to its wagon origins. Rear occupants enjoy limousine-like legroom, tapping the Subaru’s long wheelbase. 

It means child seats and boosters fit easily, even allowing the front passenger seat to slide back. Large door openings and flat floor further ease entry and exit.

Driving allure centers on plush suspension compliance, soaking up small and large hits with equal composure. 

Generous wheel travel and cushioned dampers mean only deep potholes or speedbumps invoke firm reactions. It’s a magic carpet ride ideally suited to harsh Australian roads.

Added ground clearance brings 200mm, and standard all-wheel drive systems instill off-road confidence for gravel road adventures.

Underbody protection shields mechanicals from light terrain duty away from the bitumen making it more capable than standard small SUVs when the going gets muddy.

It’s let down by the wheezy 2.0-litre engine struggling during highway duties, though. Maximum cargo capacity is tiny, too, at just 340 liters with seats in use. So, the Crosstrek must be considered carefully against specific buyer needs rather than as an all-rounder.

Toyota Corolla Cross

Toyota Corolla Cross
Toyota Corolla Cross

Toyota lobbed a new wildcard into Australia’s fiercely contested small SUV segment in 2022. Labeled the Corolla Cross, its unimaginative nameplate contradicts the exciting mechanicals underneath. 

Headline acts include class-leading interior space meeting Toyota’s proven hybrid efficiency and unbreakable reliability reputation at sensible asking prices.

This is a Corolla hatchback wearing hiking boots. Sharing its TNGA underpinnings brings satisfying road manners and comfort clearly tuned for Australian conditions given its local development.

Light steering pairs with controlled, compliant suspension for quiet cruising. The capable hybrid AWD drivetrain and Toyota’s legendary durability provide cross-country assurance most competitors simply can’t match.

Range-topping grades also introduce the latest ‘Toyota Safety Sense’ driving assistance coverage, including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and auto high beam functionality as standard. 

It brings reassuring accident avoidance capability for family adventures. Inside, the Corolla Cross impresses with smart ergonomics and airflow, delivering class-leading passenger space. 

There’s ample leg and headroom across both rows, allowing fits for child seats and adults simultaneously. The cavernous 504-litre cargo hold embarrasses rivals, too – perfect for prams and gear.


Australia’s small SUV arena continues going from strength to strength as automakers target increasingly discerning and cashed-up buyers wanting personalized transport with style.

Hyundai’s all-new Kona brings a compelling blend of distinctive design, premium appointments, willing performance, and generous accommodation hard to beat. And Mazda’s evergreen CX-30 continues charming drivers thanks to its sculptural styling enveloping excellent driving dynamics.


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