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Japanese SUVs have made a huge impact on the SUV vehicle class. Toyota and Honda produce some of the most popular SUVs in the world. Best of all, many of these SUV models are affordable. Is the cheapest new Japanese SUV worth getting, or should you pass on it?

Should drivers get this cheap new Japanese subcompact SUV?

New vehicles can be pricey. Even some of the most affordable SUVs in the industry have seen substantial price hikes to maintain profitability during this uncertain economic period. Still, several subcompact SUVs on the market remain affordable. In fact, one model starts under $21,000.

The 2023 Nissan Kicks is the cheapest new Japanese SUV. It beats out the Mazda CX-30 and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for the title. The question is, should consumers get it just because it’s affordable?

The Nissan Kicks starts at $20,440. It uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine to make 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. The Kicks gets 31 miles per gallon in the city and 36 miles per gallon on the highway.

Nissan’s subcompact SUV is praised for its low starting price, available tech features, and stellar fuel economy. It’s a great SUV for driving around small towns but underpowered for regular highway driving. Ultimately, the 2023 Nissan Kicks provides sufficient value for the money in the eyes of many drivers. That being said, several subcompact SUVs provide more value for the money. So, affordability alone isn’t reason enough to get the Kicks over rivals.

What are the best subcompact SUVs for 2023?

A blue 2023 Mazda CX-30 subcompact SUV is driving on a wet road.
The 2023 Mazda CX-30 | Mazda

The best subcompact SUVs for 2023 perfectly balance affordability with a pleasant ownership experience. The term “best” may be subjective, but the 2023 Mazda CX-30, 2023 Hyundai Kona, and 2023 Kia Soul have a clear advantage over rivals in their segment.

The 2023 Mazda CX-30 is an affordable and classy model. It’s best for drivers that want a refined daily driver. The Hyundai Kona is a quirky and fun SUV that also functions well as a daily driver. Alternatively, the Kia Soul is best for drivers that want to stick to a tight budget but still value practicality and fuel economy.

The best subcompact SUV for 2023 is a toss-up. How do two of the most popular models in the segment match up?

2023 Mazda CX-30 vs. 2023 Hyundai Kona

A blue 2023 Hyundai Kona subcompact SUV is parked.
The 2023 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai

The 2023 Mazda CX-30 starts at just $22,950. It uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine to make 191 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. The CX-30 achieves 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon on the highway.

The 2023 Hyundai Kona starts at $21,990. It uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to make 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. The Kona gets 30 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway.

The CX-30 is more powerful and sportier than the Kona. Hyundai’s subcompact SUV gets more miles per gallon. Both subcompact SUV models have won Editor’s Choice awards from various publications.

The 2023 Mazda CX-30 is a notch above the Hyundai Kona in terms of driving experience. It also provides a better ownership experience because of its classy interior. Nissan’s subcompact SUV may be the most affordable Japanese SUV on the market, but it can’t compete with the best in its segment.


Got $20,000 for a New SUV? Here Are 5 2023 Compact SUVs to Look Into First