If there ever was a battleground marketplace, it’s the small SUV world. These SUVs may look small, but they all will hold five passengers, enough luggage for at least a weekend on the road, and look good doing it. Crucially, all of these extra small SUVs start at less than $25,000, and are fuel efficient to boot. Which are the favorites for Edmunds in 2023?
What’s an extra small SUV?
SUVs fit the needs of many of us, and these five are some of the smallest you can buy. The EPA would call these sub-compact SUVs, generally are measured on fuel economy, practicality, and styling, not performance or off-road ability. Edmunds is a site that rates and reviews new and used cars and in this case, all of the small SUVs on the list cost less than $25,000.
No.1: Volkswagen Taos
The VW Taos name is still new to many, but this SUV was all new for 2021 and is the brand’s smallest SUV. But that doesn’t mean that behind its shrunken-Atlas looks there’s not a lot of room. In fact, it’s 66 cubic feet of rear cargo room is among the best. It only has 158 horsepower on tap, and it can be overwhelmed with the 4Motion all-wheel drive.
For 2023, it doesn’t get a lot of new upgrades. The VW Taos starts at $24,155. However, the SE version includes many of the features we want, like remote start, wireless charging, and VW’s suite of driver’s aids called IQ.DRIVE for $28,925.
No. 2: Chevrolet Trailblazer
Like the Vee-Dub, the Trrailblazer was launched in 2021. Similarly, it doesn’t see any major changes for 2023. While it, too, won’t set any dragstrip records with its 155-horsepower three-cylinder, it may win your heart with its clever touches. The back seats fold flat, but so does the front passenger seat, so you can fit extra long items like surfboards in the back. The outside is designed to be funky, but the inside was designed to be functional with a well-laid-out cabin and top trims look downright upscale.
The Trailblazer starts at $22,100, which at just $400 more than a Trax, makes that little SUV seem superfluous.
No. 3: Mazda CX-30
In the small SUV world, enthusiasts know the Mazda CX-30 for its friendly, nimble, handling. The CX-30 may not be for everyone, with a harsher ride and powerful 191-horsepower on tap. But this small SUV checks a lot of the boxes that buyers want, like a modern interior, premium materials, and even a hot 256-horsepower turbocharged version.
The Mazda CX-30 starts at $22,950. The turbocharged engine may bot be worth the premium as you have to step up to the 2.5 Turbo Premium package, which starts at $33,800.
No. 4: Buick Encore GX
The Buick Encore is gone, but long the Encore GX. Like the Trailblazer, that shares an engine (and fold-flat front seat), the Buick Encore GX isn’t a performance SUV. But, it does offer a lot of value in a luxury-adjacent package that looks great and gets great gas mileage. While it does a good job of approximating a luxury SUV, don’t confuse it with one.
Think of the Encore GX like a well-equipped, smoother riding, Trailblazer with more traditional styling. It starts at $25,900.
No. 5: Hyundai Kona
Many think the Hyundai Kona could have scored higher on Edmunds’ list. Like the Trailblazer it has funky styling that sets it apart. However, the Kona comes standard with features that others make options, like driver’s assistance software. The N-Line version gets the goodies, though, like a larger screen and bumping Harman/Kardon stereo, as well as an upgraded engine.
The base Kona has a 147-horsepower four-cylinder and starts at $21,990. The N-Line (and Limited) has a peppy 195-horsepower four-cylinder, and a quick double-clutch automatic, for $27,700.