Best small SUVs to buy in Australia 2023

small SUVs to buy in 2023

Small SUVs are a diverse class that appeals to buyers of all ages. Small SUVs have a lot to offer buyers from all walks of life, whether they are looking to buy their first car and want uncompromised vehicle safety and the best technology or are winding down in life and want a higher driving position.

It’s a dynamic subgroup as well, with a number of new models entering the market in 2022. As shown by sales leaders like the Mazda CX-30, MG ZS, and Mitsubishi ASX, it also typically favors value. However, since older models aren’t expected to undergo much change in 2022, we’ve turned our attention to the segment’s more contemporary offerings.

To win top honors in the Best Small SUV category of the 2023 Drive Car of the Year, a contender must have a compelling value proposition, drive well, and combine a capable tech package with a cozy interior. To excel in just one of those categories is an easy task, but to triumph in all three is cause for celebration, and that is what Drive Car of the Year seeks to emphasize.

Toyota Corolla Cross

The Toyota Corolla Cross and Nissan Qashqai were evenly matched in terms of votes. By no means does that make the 2019 Toyota Corolla Cross an inferior vehicle. According to our tests, the Corolla Cross is an impressive piece of machinery, offering a selection of effective hybrid powertrains and a roomy, useful cabin. It fits in below the Toyota RAV4 medium SUV as a more useful small SUV substitute for the Toyota C-HR. Prices rise through several model grades up to the top-of-the-line Corolla Cross Atmos Hybrid AWD ($49,050 before ORCs), starting at a clear $33,000 before on-road expenses.

You can choose between gasoline and hybrid Corolla Cross engines, the latter of which offers front- or all-wheel drive. The hybrid produces a total 146kW, compared to the gasoline engine’s 126kW/202Nm output to the wheels. In addition to offering fuel savings, the hybrid also boasts official fuel consumption of 4.3L/100km.

After a purchase, Toyota has continually garnered plaudits for its value proposition, and this is still true for this brand-new model. Toyota charges a set fee of $250 for each visit during the first five services. This comes with a five-year, unrestricted-mileage warranty. Always keep in mind that the exceptional resale value you receive when you’re finished with a Toyota is essential.

The hybrid engine’s power outputs particularly pleased the judges, despite the fact that it could be noisy when moving. It absorbs all road imperfections and corrugations and is a very comfortable and compliant car to drive on country roads. It is a simple car to maneuver in the suburbs thanks to the mild steering, but overall it lacks feel and input.

Our 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross reviews have shown how, in terms of its usefulness and fuel economy, it’s a deserving newcomer to the segment. However, we’ve also noticed that, despite the price premium for the higher-spec models in the lineup, it doesn’t particularly thrill us in terms of design or technology. This is why we’ve discovered that smart purchasing starts at the beginning.

Although the inside design may not be as striking as the Nissan Qashqai’s, the new infotainment system is a considerable improvement over Toyota’s previous primitive setup. The various menu systems are easy to use, and the displays are clear and appealing. Although the quality of the reverse camera may be better.

Although remarks noted a notable lack of locations to put loose items, judges were pleased with the quantity of room offered inside. The Drive team wants wider door pockets and extra storage alternatives in the second row in a class where it’s all about fitting as much room into a tiny SUV body as possible.

Skoda Kamiq

The Skoda Kamiq is still a fantastic choice in a popular vehicle class even though it ultimately missed out on winning another 2023 Drive Car of the Year Best Small SUV title.

Skoda now sells a variety of SUVs in various sizes. The Skoda Kamiq, a medium SUV, and the Kodiaq, a large SUV, are above the Kamiq in terms of price and space. Unfortunately, Skoda re-released the model in the middle of 2022 without making any changes or additions and at a price that was up to $7000 higher than before. Accordingly, the entry-level 85TSI Style will cost $34,990 (plus on-roads), while the 110TSI Signature will cost $41,490 (plus on-roads). A 110TSI Monte Carlo with a sportier lean is also available for $40,895 (including applicable taxes and fees).

The 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine that powers the 85TSI Style produces 85kW/200Nm and sends energy to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the 110TSI Monte Carlo and Signature produces 110kW/250Nm through the same seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and front-wheel drive system.

Although the model’s price has increased significantly without an equivalent increase in features, it is now protected by the manufacturer’s new-for-2022 seven-year, unlimited-mile warranty.

The Skoda Kamiq is closely matched to a compact car and is a pleasure to drive, in contrast to its rivals, which have the high-riding nature that make them feel like mini-SUVs. The Skoda’s ability to handle road imperfections and how it confidently maintained its position on potholed country roads won acclaim from the judges. The four-cylinder turbocharged engine is the ideal match for its small size, and throughout testing, it used remarkably little fuel. Even though the engine loses power at high revs when overtaking, it has a strong mid-range punch that will be useful around town.

Skoda utilized a variety of soft-touch fabric materials inside the cabin to give the area a luxurious sense. The judges were taken aback by the plush, comfy seats as well as the instrumentation’s excellent panel fit and finish. The Kamiq has continuously impressed our editorial team with its overall refinement and pleasantly surprising spaciousness, even after we left DCOTY.

Compared to newer competitors, Skoda’s infotainment system is starting to look dated, and while though smartphone mirroring (with Apple or Google Maps) is available, it lacks conventional satellite navigation in the base model.

The Skoda’s back seats are roomy and would accommodate even tall people despite its small frame. The Skoda Kamiq compact SUV has many of wonderful qualities despite not being the newest and greatest in its class.

Honda HR-V

The Australian auto sector has undergone significant transformation in the past six months, as demonstrated by Honda’s HR-V. The team discovered that the newer, more pricier Honda HR-V was not as attractive in terms of value for money when it first launched earlier this year.

The Honda HR-V appears to be a much better deal now that its newer competitors have debuted at similarly exorbitant pricing ranges. Honda’s low-cost servicing, where each of the first five maintenance appointments is capped at $199, is particularly excellent.

The HR-V Vi X model grade ($36,700 drive-away) and the HR-V e:HEV L ($47,000 drive-away) are the two models that make up Honda’s HR-V lineup. The 1.5-liter non-turbo four-cylinder engine in the more inexpensive HR-V Vi X model delivers 89kW/145Nm to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission.

When you upgrade to the e:HEV L flagship, a 1.5-liter engine with two electric motors for a combined output of 96kW/253Nm becomes available. It is claimed that this hybrid system may achieve fuel efficiency of 4.3L/100km.

The hybrid HR-V also comes with a hands-free power tailgate, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, rear cross-traffic warning, and a six-speaker sound system, albeit there is a significant difference in specifications between the petrol and hybrid models.

The Honda HR-V is, above all things, a very fashionable and useful little SUV. There are many aspects of the HR-V to be enthusiastic about, from its streamlined outward appearance to its expertly made-interior. In particular, the knurled switchgear of the air vents and the metallic door knobs receive top marks from us, and the roomy and versatile cabin is unmatched.

In the HR-V’s boot, Honda’s Magic Seats system adjusts to fit any bulky things, and there are also storage nooks and crannies. The infotainment system has a clean, practical design that is easy to use, and the user experience with all the gorgeous, clicky switchgear feels high-end.

The driving experience of the Honda is lacking, particularly in light of its engine. Its engine outputs and in-use performance fall short of those of its competitors. Timing for overtakes must be carefully planned since, despite the transmission’s best efforts to respond promptly, there is sometimes insufficient power.

The Honda HR-V has some commendable qualities, but its weak drivetrain continues to be its biggest flaw.

Honda Crosstrek

As Subaru switches to the North American Crosstrek name for its third-generation small SUV, which makes its Australian debut in 2023, it’s time to say goodbye to the XV label.

The Crosstrek just slightly increases in length while adopting a sharper, yet evolutionary, design over the vehicle it replaces.

It is supported by the well-known Subaru Global platform and comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is partially hybridized.


Hyundai Kona

Hyundai’s new-generation Kona boasts an even more radical look than the existing model, although it takes design inspirations from other Hyundai products like the Staria people mover, such as the front LED light bar.

Thankfully, it has a longer wheelbase (+60mm), which will result in a wider and longer body than before and additional internal space.

From mid-2023, the new Kona will begin to arrive in dealerships in Australia. A multitude of drivetrain options will be available, including internal combustion versions, performance-oriented N-Line versions, hybrid versions, and totally electric versions.

Nissan Qashqai

The demand for a new-generation Nissan Qashqai has been unquenchable since its predecessor outstayed its welcome. The Qashqai proves that the wait was worthwhile because it exceeds all expectations for a small SUV.

The 2023 Nissan Qashqai defeated all challengers to win the title of 2023 Drive Car of the Year Best Small SUV thanks to a variety of new technologies and materials, a potent yet efficient turbocharged engine, and a roomy and luxurious interior.

How about a quick recap of the Nissan Qashqai before we move on? The Qashqai sits above the Nissan Juke small SUV and below the mid-size competitor, the X-Trail. The entry-level ST model has a price of under $34,000, but there are four overall specifications to select from, with the Qashqai Ti being the most expensive at $47,390 (before ORCs).

A 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an output of 110kW/250Nm is present in all models. Additionally, the transmission is a continuously variable automatic.

It takes a lot to unseat a two-time champion like the Skoda Kamiq, but the judges praised the Qashqai’s 1.3-litre engine’s performance and refinement. On our test routes, the ride control is quite good across all bumps and undulations, and drivers appreciate a comfortable high-riding seat.

The continuously variable gearbox offers smooth acceleration up to posted speed limits while remaining comparatively quiet under load.

A sophisticated new infotainment screen with new Nissan software that looks slick and is really simple to use is located inside the cabin. The rest of the dash array is also attractive and useful. When some competitors choose soft’ controls that are focused on infotainment, the traditional air conditioning controls are greatly appreciated.

Even with a significant price increase over its predecessor (between $3300 and $8300 more expensive), the 2023 Nissan Qashqai is well-equipped starting with the base model. The infotainment system’s smartphone mirroring, adaptive cruise control, digital instrument cluster display, and standard front and rear parking sensors are some of the standout features.

Nissan offers a five-year (unlimited kilometer) warranty on the vehicle and caps maintenance expenditures to $1467 over the course of three years.

Our early 2022 launch testing revealed a surprisingly roomy inside with remarkable wide-opening rear doors, a sizable boot, and a refined motor.

The Nissan Qashqai didn’t perform the best in its class in the slalom and emergency swerve tests. The vehicle’s electronic stability control system forcefully intervened as it felt top-heavy.

The Nissan Qashqai redefines what customers might expect from a small SUV by offering an abundance of technology and safety features as well as a ton of usable room.


Looking for the best SUV to buy? The Nissan Qashqai is the winner of the 2023 Drive Car of the Year Best Small SUV award. It is a remarkable option because to its cutting-edge features, powerful engine, and opulent interior. It stands out in this diversified class for its performance, smooth ride, and wealth of technological features. The Nissan Qashqai is a fantastic alternative to take into consideration when selling your car for cash in Brisbane if you’re searching for a small SUV that provides value, enjoyable driving, and a cozy cabin.