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Spending less on an SUV doesn’t always mean sacrificing quality. One model among the cheapest compact SUVs of 2023 boasts performance, style, and interior refinement typically found far above its price point: the 2023 Mazda CX-30.

Mazda’s subcompact crossover ranks sixth among the cheapest SUVs of 2023

2023 Mazda CX-30 in red on a dark background.
2023 Mazda CX-30 | Mazda

According to US News and World Report, the 2023 CX-30 is the sixth most affordable SUV on the market. The ranking lists each vehicle by starting MSRP for base trims. Here are the 10 cheapest SUVs of 2023. 

  • 2023 Honda HR-V: $23,800
  • 2023 Subaru Crosstrek: $23,645
  • 2023 Kia Seltos: $23,340
  • 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: $22,995
  • 2023 Mazda CX-30: $22,950
  • 2023 Hyundai Kona $22,140
  • 2023 Chevrolet Trailblazer: $22,100
  • 2023 Nissan Kicks: $20,440
  • 2023 Kia Soul: $19,890
  • 2023 Hyundai Venue: $19,650

The 2023 CX-30 sits in the middle of the pack among cheap SUVs. Yet, its design and performance call more expensive nameplates to mind.

The 2023 Mazda CX-30 feels more expensive than its price 

View of the front cabin space inside a 2023 Mazda CX-30.
2023 Mazda CX-30 Cabin | Mazda

The 2023 Mazda CX-30 ranks in the top 10 cheapest SUVs of 2023 with a starting MSRP under $23,000 – but its features and design compare more closely to models that cost twice as much. 

Manufacturers have positioned subcompact crossovers to become the industry’s new econoboxes. They’re primarily utilitarian vehicles designed to sip gas, carry groceries, and ferry folks between home, work, and errands with little drama. It’s a worthy cause – drivers need these kinds of cars. But this formula tends to create cheap SUVs with forgettable driving dynamics and cabins that feel, well, cheap.

The 2023 Mazda CX-30 is an outlier among affordable crossovers

For one, it looks the part of a more premium vehicle. Mazda’s signature design language uses flowing, elegant lines and sleek, coupe-like proportions. It all comes together to make a subcompact crossover that appears more sophisticated than its peers. 

The trend continues inside the cabin. While competitors in this price range tend to feel flimsy, the CX-30’s cabin borders on luxury quality. There are no creaks or rattles; material qualities are excellent; the seats have ample bolstering. The space has more in common with an Audi luxury sedan than a Mitsubishi economy car.

Driving characteristics really set the CX-30 apart from other affordable SUVs

From the 2023 Nissan Kicks to the Honda HR-V, the cheapest SUVs of 2023 aren’t the best examples of drivers’ cars. Lagging CVTs, pokey engines, and imprecise handling run amok. 

The 2023 CX-30 offers a much better experience behind the wheel than other cheap SUVs. Its base engine is throaty and responsive, while the available turbocharged powertrain hauls with 250 horsepower. A traditional six-speed automatic transmission is more responsive and engaging than competitors’ wheezing CVTs. And a balanced suspension tuning from Mazda helps the CX-30 corner far flatter than its rivals. 

All this is impressive for a model that ranks in the top 10 cheapest new SUVS of 2023. 

Is the 2023 Mazda CX-30 a luxury SUV?

The Mazda CX-30 is a more premium vehicle than other cheap SUVs at a price that beats high-end luxury models. 

Is Mazda a luxury car brand? Not quite.

Mazda has worked hard to present itself as a “premium” brand that sits above traditional volume nameplates while offering better value than upmarket luxury OEMs. 

The CX-30 is proof that Mazda has accomplished its goal. Its driving dynamics are on par with the likes of BMW, and its style is elegant and timeless. Still, splitting the difference between economy and luxury does require some sacrifices. 

It’s clear that Mazda spent time and money dialing in the CX-30’s performance and overall quality. To keep pricing down, the brand had to skimp in other areas – namely technology. The CX-30 uses a rotary-button-controlled infotainment system instead of the more intuitive touch screens found in even the cheapest competitors. It seems outdated and challenging to use by comparison. 

The CX-30 also suffers in the practicality category. Its sleek roofline looks fantastic – yet it diminishes rear passenger room and cargo space. It’s a bit cramped inside despite the excellent materials and aesthetics. Other cheap SUVs may not look as nice as the CX-30, but they’re leagues better in terms of utility. 

If style, quality, and performance matter more to you than bare-bones utility, then the Mazda CX-30 is a steal at its starting price of under $23,000. Its materials, driving experience, and design rival those found in much more expensive crossovers. However, drivers seeking maximum practicality for the money might look elsewhere. 


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