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Compact SUVs have the unique challenge of offering enough space to keep everyone comfortable but remaining small enough to park and drive. Thanks to those challenges, safety can sometimes be an issue. However, the best compact SUV of 2023 from Mazda managed to deliver on all fronts: easy to park, good cargo capacity, and an almost perfect safety score. Check out how the NHTSA and IIHS scored this award-winning ride.

What is the best compact SUV of 2023?

Depending on who you ask, the 2023 Mazda CX-5 remains the best compact SUV of 2023. According to the rankings on U.S. News, the CX-5 was at the top of 20 other compact SUVs available this year. Some of the highlights include the Mazda’s comfortable ride and handling. On top of that, all 2023 CX-5 trim levels use premium interior materials throughout the cabin.

These Mazdas are known for offering quick acceleration from most of the engines in its lineup, adding a little joy to the everyday drive. Drivers can select from two engine types this year. The first option is a 2.5L four-cylinder with 187 horsepower. For the second option, a turbo version of that engine gets 256 horsepower on premium gasoline and 227 horsepower on regular gas.

As far as standard driver-assistance features on this compact vehicle, the Mazda CX-5 comes well-equipped. Mazda’s i-Activsense suite of safety technology includes Blind-Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Radar Cruise Control. Adaptive Headlights pivot to illuminate the road while driving, and the new Smart Braking System applies the brakes if an impact is predicted.

How safe is the best compact SUV of 2023?

Inside the best compact SUV of 2023, the Mazda CX-5
Interior of the 2023 Mazda CX-5 compact SUV | Mazda

The best compact SUV of 2023 just barely missed a perfect safety score. Ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are essential as these can help find vehicles that provide adequate crash protection. The 2023 Mazda CX-5 delivered on all those promises, keeping the driver and passengers safe. It earned five-star ratings on the frontal and side crash tests. On the rollover test, the CX-5 earned a four-star rating.

When testing the safety systems, all the technology met the performance criteria from the NHTSA. This includes Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Crash Imminent Braking, and Dynamic Brake Support.

Additionally, the IIHS gave the 2023 Mazda CX-5 its Top Safety Pick award. The small SUV earned high marks in all seven main crashworthiness areas. One area that held the small SUV back was the headlights.

What compact SUV is the most fun to drive?

Affordable 2023 Mazda CX-5, best new compact SUV that costs $26K, driving on a street
2023 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda

If there is one common attribute among Mazda vehicles, these compact SUVs are known to be a fun ride. However, the CX-5 is a safe choice among small SUVs on top of that. Mazda has three different headlight types for the CX-5, but some performed better than others. The Premium, Premium Plus, Turbo, and Signature earned the highest score from the curve-adaptive LED projector headlights. On the 2.5 S and Sport trims, the non-curve adaptive LED projector headlights still earned high marks. The CX-5 Select, Preferred, and Carbon Edition trims earned a lower score for the headlights.

The 2023 Mazda CX-5 took home awards in some areas, such as Best Crossover SUV, Best Compact SUV, Best SUV with Two Rows, and Best Compact SUV for the Money. It offers a lot of bang for your buck, with prices ranging from $26,700 to $39,650. Not bad, Mazda. When it comes to the best compact SUV of 2023, it is clear why the Mazda CX-5 was such a winner.


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