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As prices for new cars and SUVs continue to rise, finding a high-quality vehicle while on a budget becomes more of a challenge. These three small SUVs from Nissan, Toyota, and Hyundai pack quite a punch for under $30,000. While all of the compact SUVs have multiple trim levels, the base models of these come well-equipped without any changes.

What is the best small SUV around?

The best small SUVs include this 2023 Nissan Rogue
A 2023 Nissan Rogue | Amanda Cline, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Nissan Rogue is one of the best small SUVs with a lot going for it. U.S. News gave it high marks for good fuel economy and a lot of space throughout the cabin. What makes it a high-quality option? The base model Rogue starts at $27,360 and comes pretty well equipped. This S trim gets an adjustable driver’s seat, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a three-cylinder engine with 201 horsepower.

The Rogue has 31.6 cubic feet of space in the cargo area with the seats up. With the second row folded, that increases to 74.1 cubic feet. That is pretty impressive for a small SUV, and its sub-$30,000 price tag makes the Rogue a good value.

The 2023 Rogue has many standard driver-assistance features like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring. Lane-departure warning, along with pedestrian and cyclist detection, is also standard. The compact SUV earned a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA and an IIHS Top Safety Pick award.

Which small SUV has the smoothest ride?

The best small SUVs include this 2023 Toyota RAV4
A 2023 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

Even though the 2023 Toyota RAV4 is one of the older small SUVs, it remains a top seller. It has a long history of reliability and a few different powertrain options for those who might want a hybrid or plug-in hybrid model. J.D. Power gave the 2023 Toyota RAV4 a predicted reliability score of 81 out of 100, which is pretty good for the class.

Toyota’s compact RAV4 has five spacious seats and class-leading cargo space. That works out to 37.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 69.8 with the seats folded.

Even the entry-level LE trim that starts at $28,275 has many standard features. It has an eight-inch touchscreen, a seven-inch digital gauge, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota includes all the essential safety features like lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and forward collision warning with pedestrian detection as standard. The 2023 RAV4 earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick award and a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA.

Is a compact SUV the same as a small SUV?

The best small SUVs include this 2023 Hyundai Tucson
A 2023 Hyundai Tucson | Hyundai

Small SUVs and compact SUVs are pretty interchangeable, and the 2023 Hyundai Tucson is among the best in the segment. Thanks to its long list of features and comfortable interior, Hyundai made the 2023 Tucson an excellent family SUV and daily driver.

In the back, the Tucson has 38.7 cubic feet of space. With the second row folded, which increases capacity to 74.8 cubic feet, it is one of the more oversized cargo holds in the segment.

Starting at only $26,900, the base SE trim comes with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine. All trim levels get the same engine with 187 horsepower. It isn’t the most powerful engine, but it gets the job done. Hyundai’s long list of standard safety systems led to the same NHTSA five-star safety rating and an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus award.

The good news is there are many small SUVs to choose from, which can also make the selection process a little more complicated. If comfort, safety, and value are priorities, these options check all those boxes.


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