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For small SUVs, the pool of options is actually quite large. The rankings for the best compact SUV change often, but the 2023 Mazda CX-5 remains among the top contenders. This year’s Mazda CX-5 stands out as an exceptional small SUV due to its blend of style, performance, and practicality. Mazda’s driving dynamics are a highlight, offering responsive handling and a smooth ride, making the CX-5 enjoyable on winding roads and comfortable for daily commuting.

What is the best compact SUV on the market right now?

The best compact SUV is this 2023 Mazda CX-5
A 2023 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda

According to U.S. News, the 2023 Mazda CX-5 is one of the best compact SUVs under $30,000 right now. With room for five passengers, this small SUV from Mazda is a comfortable and reliable option. Mazda offers two different engine choices to suit more shoppers’ needs, offering a pretty fun ride.

The base 2023 Mazda CX-5 2.5 S starts at only $26,700, while a fully-loaded 2.5 Turbo Signature is $39,650.

2023 Mazda CX-5 TrimsMSRP
2.5 S$26,700
2.5 S Select Package$28,500
2.5 S Preferred Package$30,190
2.5 S Carbon Edition$31,100
2.5 S Premium Package$33,000
2.5 S Premium Plus Package$35,500
2.5 Turbo$36,850
2.5 Turbo Signature$39,650
The best compact SUV trim levels

The 2023 Mazda CX-5 2.5 S has a 2.5L four-cylinder engine with 187 horsepower. An upgraded 2.5L turbo engine is also standard on some higher trim levels. This engine gets 256 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque with premium 93 octane fuel. If you use regular fuel, that dips down to 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.

What makes this the best compact SUV?

Mazda's best compact SUV is this CX-5
A 2023 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda

The best compact SUV has a lot to offer drivers, including a fun ride. Mazda’s CX-5 is known for being fun to drive, thanks to that four-cylinder engine. Drivers report that the acceleration is plenty to move the CX-5 around town, and it can make the daily commute a bit less dull. Plus, the CX-5 design is aging like a fine wine in a sea of modern monstrosities.

Inside the cabin, Mazda used high-quality materials throughout. It gives off an almost luxurious feel, thanks to the build quality. Even though the engine is powerful enough to move the small SUV around town, the cabin does a good job of masking road noise. That makes it an excellent option for road trips or even phone calls.

Behind both rows of seats, the 2023 CX-5 has 30.8 cubic feet of space. With the second row folded, that increases to 59.3 cubic feet. Even though that isn’t class-leading, it is enough for most daily situations.

Is this compact SUV safe?

The best compact SUV from Mazda is a safe choice, no matter which trim level you go with. Mazda’s entry-level CX-5 2.5 S comes pretty well-equipped with standard safety systems. It comes with all-wheel drive and all-season tires, which can be a costly addition in some cases. It also gets automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning are standard equipment.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety made the 2023 CX-5 a Top Safety Pick award winner, thanks to all of those safety systems. Mazda’s CX-5 protected the driver and passengers in the seven main crashworthiness tests. It also earned superior scores for the crash avoidance and mitigation sections. There are two headlight types with superior LED projector lights on the Premium, Premium Plus, Turbo, Signature, 2.5 S, and Sport trims. While the Select, Preferred, and Carbon Edition headlights still provide acceptable visibility, the others offer better visibility.

Mazda’s small SUV also earned a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, earning high marks on the front, side, and rollover crash test scores. So while you may be able to argue another vehicle is the best compact SUV for one reason or another, the 2023 Mazda CX-5 is one of the top vehicles in the game. Once you get behind the wheel, it will all make sense why the CX-5 is an appealing choice in the competitive small SUV segment.


The Best Compact SUV of 2023 Nails Almost Perfect Safety Score