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Compact SUVs sometimes get overlooked simply for the lack of cargo space and boring engines that help make for a budget-friendly build. However, these are two of the best small SUVs of 2023, and both come in under $35,000 for multiple trim levels. While these options from Mazda and Honda might go over budget for a fully-loaded version, there are many ways to customize both vehicles to craft the perfect compact sport utility vehicle.

What’s the best compact SUV of 2023 so far?

The best small SUVs of 2023 include this Mazda CX-50
The 2023 Mazda CX-50 | Amanda Cline, MotorBiscuit

Edmunds says the best compact SUV so far is the 2023 Mazda CX-50. This likely won’t come as a surprise, as the CX-50 has had an impressive run for its first few months on the market. Mazda offers many different trim levels and engine options for the compact SUV, but four come under budget. Those are the 2.5 S, 2.5 Select, 2.5 S Preferred, and the 2.5 S Preferred Plus.

2023 Mazda CX-50 TrimsMSRPFuel Economy
2.5 S$28,92524 City / 30 Hwy
2.5 Select$30,32524 City / 30 Hwy
2.5 S Preferred$31,62524 City / 30 Hwy
2.5 S Preferred Plus$34,06524 City / 30 Hwy
The 2023 Mazda CX-50 small SUV trims

Even if you go with the base model 2.5 S, it comes well-equipped from the factory. While this SUV is similar to the CX-5 that remains on the market, the CX-50 is slightly more rugged and capable. It has 8.3 and 8.6 inches of ground clearance, and the CX-50 Meridian Edition has all-terrain tires.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety made the 2023 Mazda CX-50 a Top Safety Pick winner. It performed well in all crashworthiness, crash avoidance, and mitigation tests.

What’s the best small SUV of 2023 from Honda?

The 2023 Honda CR-V small SUV
The 2023 Honda CR-V | Honda

Even though the 2023 Honda CR-V isn’t new to the segment of compact SUVs, it is still one of the finest in the game. Most of the 2023 CR-V trims come under budget: LX, EX, Sport Hybrid, and the EX-L is just above the budget. Honda has many options for shoppers even after cutting some trim levels this year, but this small SUV has a lot to offer for a relatively affordable cost.

2023 Honda CR-V TrimsMSRPFuel Economy
LX$29,70528 City / 34 Hwy
EX$32,90528 City / 34 Hwy
Sport Hybrid$34,24543 City / 36 Hwy
EX-L$35,55528 City / 34 Hwy
2023 Honda CR-V small SUV trims

No matter which trim level you end up with, the Honda CR-V has many features and additions. Honda’s 1.5L four-cylinder engine in the base LX gets 190 horsepower, 179 pound-feet of torque. It also gets LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and many standard safety systems.

The IIHS made the 2023 Honda CR-V a Top Safety Pick Plus winner for this year. It performed well on the main crashworthiness tests and earned high marks in the new crash avoidance and mitigation areas.

Both compact SUVs have impressive features

Some other highlights of both compact SUVs from Mazda and Honda include the cargo space. The 2023 CX-50 has 31.4 cubic feet of space with all seats in place and 56.3 cubic feet for the maximum. For the CR-V, the cargo capacity with all the seats in place is 39.3 cubic feet and a maximum of 76.5 cubic feet. When it comes to the best small SUVs of 2023, reliability and practicality are the name of the game.

You don’t need a fully-loaded Mazda CX-50 to get the total package, and most trim levels of the CR-V don’t need anything added to the comfortable ride. Both SUVs prioritize safety, incorporating advanced driver-assistance systems and ensuring peace of mind on the road. Ultimately, the 2023 Mazda CX-50 and 2023 Honda CR-V represent outstanding choices for anyone seeking a small SUV that combines performance, comfort, and practicality in one enticing package.


The Best Small SUVs for the Money That Will Run Past 100,000 Miles