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The small SUVs market in 2023 is filled with diverse options, including the new Kia Niro, Toyota Corolla Cross, and Honda CR-V, among others. With so many choices, it can be challenging to make a decision. Thankfully, Edmunds has released its rankings of the best small SUVs for 2023 and 2024, making the selection process easier.

Topping the list are two Mazda SUVs, the 2023 CX-50 and 2022 CX-5, which ranked No. 1 and 3, respectively. Outperforming tough competitors like the Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson, and Honda CR-V, Mazda has once again demonstrated its reputation for producing high-quality and reliable vehicles. So, let’s look at what sets the CX-50 and CX-5 apart and understand why they were ranked as the best small SUVs of 2023.

2022 Mazda CX-5

The 2022 Mazda CX-5 has impressive bodywork, creating a powerful and confident appearance. It features a striking design with smooth surfaces on the front and rear, a distinct grille, and wings that extend outward toward the LED lights. It has 7.5 inches of ground clearance, an inch less than previous models. The exterior styling also received an update for the 2022 model year.

The interior is just as impressive, with upscale finishes and comfortable seats. The cabin is sleek and quiet, and the infotainment system is easy to use. It has enough space for first- and second-row seats, although rear passengers may feel cramped.

Under the hood, a standard 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine produces 187 horsepower. However, if you want an extra power boost, Mazda offers an optional 256-hp turbocharged engine with quicker acceleration. Still, the CX-5 handles impressively well, making it feel more like a sports car than an SUV, with precise steering and a nimble suspension. The combination of style and functionality makes the 2022 Mazda CX-5 an outstanding small SUV in its class.

Some of the things Edmunds liked about the CX-5 include the following:

  • Sharp and communicative handling and steering
  • Firm ride quality
  • Quiet cabin at highway speeds
  • Crisp backup camera resolution
  • Natural speech recognition
  • Safety features
  • Premium interior

2023 Mazda CX-50

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is a new addition to Mazda’s SUV lineup. It’s basically a slightly larger and more off-road-centric version of the CX-5. Mazda also has plans to add a hybrid variant in the future.

The CX-50 boasts a more rugged look, unlike the CX-5’s more refined character. It’s wider and longer, with an exterior with more pronounced fenders, a slimmer grille, and an impressive 8.3- or 8.6-inch ground clearance (similar to the Subaru Forester’s 8.7 inches).

Inside, the CX-50 offers a well-appointed interior with optional leather upholstery, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and ventilated seats. The interior is spacious and comfortable, and the cabin is quiet at highway speeds, allowing for a more relaxing and enjoyable ride. The base model comes with an 8.8-inch infotainment screen, while higher trims offer a larger 10.25-inch display that is not touch-sensitive. Unlike the CX-5, the rear seat is spacious enough to fit three adults comfortably.

Under the hood, the Mazda CX-50 has the same engine options as the CX-5, including a base 187-horsepower four-cylinder and a 256-horsepower turbocharged engine. However, the CX-50 has a higher towing capacity than the CX-5, with a rating of up to 3,500 pounds when equipped with the 256-hp engine. This makes it an excellent option for drivers needing to tow heavier loads, making it a more outdoorsy choice than the CX-5.

Mazda SUVs stand out

An overhead shot of the hood of a 2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian compact crossover SUV model
An overhead shot of the 2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian | MAZDA NORTH AMERICAN OPERATIONS

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 and the 2022 Mazda CX-5 stand out in the crowded small SUV market with their impressive design, performance, and features that cater to different driving preferences. It’s no surprise that both SUVs have been ranked among the top small SUVs of 2023 by Edmunds, outperforming many of their competitors.

Related What Is the Best Mazda SUV?

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