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The Mazda CX-30 and Hyundai Kona are neck-and-neck in terms of sales numbers this year. These are excellent subcompact SUVs with many similarities but also some key differences setting them apart.

Let’s take a look at why these SUVs are selling so well.

Why is the Mazda CX-30 popular?

The Mazda CX-30 has sold 31,915 units so far in 2023. That makes it the second best-selling Mazda model behind the more popular CX-5.

The Mazda CX-30 is a class leader in subcompact SUVs. One of its biggest strengths is the driving dynamics characteristic of the Mazda brand. Its 191-hp base engine is stronger than the standard engine in the Kona, and it has agile handling and standard AWD.

The optional turbo engine cranks up the heat to 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. That’s even more torque than the high-performance Kona N.

The CX-30 has some other practical advantages on top of having standard all-wheel drive. The Mazda has a little more rear-seat legroom and cargo space than the Kona. That makes it a small SUV you could use as a small family vehicle while enjoying the engaging drive.

Another perk of the CX-30 is its safety scores. It earns the IIHS Top Safety Pick designation, but the Kona does not. This adds to the appeal of the CX-30 as a small family SUV.

Why is the Hyundai Kona popular?

The Hyundai Kona has sold 31,664 units in 2023, closely behind the CX-30. However, the Kona is only moderately popular compared to other Hyundai SUVs. It’s outsold by the compact Tucson, the midsize Santa Fe, and the 3-row Palisade.

The Kona’s base engine is a little weaker than the standard engine in the CX-30, but the Hyundai is also more fuel-efficient. The Kona gets up to 32 combined mpg, but the most efficient CX-30 only gets 29 mpg.

Speaking of efficiency, the Hyundai Kona has an EV option, and the Mazda doesn’t. The Kona Electric boasts a 258-mile all-electric range and all the desirable safety and infotainment tech features you get in every Kona.

If you’re looking for driving excitement, the Hyundai Kona N packs a thrilling turbo engine making 276 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque. The acceleration is quick, with a 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds, and it has the handling and braking to match its gutsy engine. A 195-hp turbo engine is also available in the N Line and Limited trims.

Which SUV is better?

Both of these SUVs are so good that it’s hard to declare a clear winner between the two. One thing worth considering is that an all-new Kona is on the way for the 2024 model year. The all-new Kona has a new look inside and out, more interior space, and updated tech features, including two 12.3-inch displays.

You can’t go wrong with the Mazda CX-30, but the upcoming redesigned Hyundai Kona looks like it will be worth the wait.


5 Surprisingly Good 2023 Mazda CX-30 Advantages