The 5 Best Small SUVs for 2023 According to Edmunds

For most of us, the space and utility of a small SUV is enough. SUVs in this class are easy to live with, efficient, and have enough space to be comfortable. But they’re not all created equal. Which do the reviewers at Edmunds say are the best small SUVs for 2023?

What is a small SUV?

A 2023 Mazda CX-50 compact crossover SUV with roof rails parked in the dirt near water and mountains
2023 Mazda CX-50 | Mazda

Small SUVs fit the needs of many of us. They have enough space to seat five comfortably, but they’re not the behemoths that you can’t park. Most have enough interior space to hold enough luggage for a week-long road trip, and gas mileage that doesn’t hurt at the pump. 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 $32,000. Interestingly, the best-selling, but aging, Toyota RAV4 did not make the list.

No. 1: Mazda CX-50

A view of the 2023 Mazda CX-50 cabin interior front seating and dashboard
2023 Mazda CX-50 interior | Mazda

What happens if you take the popular Mazda CX-5 and give it an off-road update? You get the new for 2023 CX-50. That means that you get the space and fun handling of the CX-5, plus the utility of an all-wheel drive SUV that isn’t afraid to tackle some mountain trails and mud. Mazda introduced the CX-50 for 2023.

The base version of the CX-50 starts at $27,550. The hot turbocharged version, however, with 256 horsepower, will put a bigger grin on your face for $27,150.

No. 2: Honda CR-V

Honda completely redesigned the CR-V for 2023 and it now has more traditional SUV looks, as well as a significantly updated interior. The new 2023 Honda CR-V is in the sweet spot for many buyers and it’s a best seller, so Honda handled the redesign with care. It’s larger and more practical than the previous version, and comes standard with the tech most people want, like Apple Car Play and Android Auto, as well as a large touchscreen.

The 190-horsepower CR-V starts at $31,610, however the $33,000 Sport Hybrid adds a two-motor hybrid powertrain that gets better mileage, yet has 204 horsepower.

No. 3: Mazda CX-5

The best used SUVs under $30,000 include the Mazda CX-5
A 2019 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda

If the CX-50 is on the list, why not the CX-5? The CX-5 combines all of the goodness of the CX-50, but in a package that’s designed to tackle streets. It comes with all-wheel drive and perky fun handling, standard. For 2023 the CX-5 starts at a low $26,700. Though the faster turbocharged version is a hoot to drive, many buyers decide the $36,850 entry price is a tad too much.

No. 4: Subaru Forester

Green 2023 Subaru Forester crossover SUV parked on a snowy road
2023 Subaru Forester | Subaru

The Forester is starting to get a bit long in the tooth, but it still offers a ton of value in the segment. Though it offers a lot for 2023 it gets a full redesign for 2024, and that may mean that 2023s will be bargains at your local dealer. Subaru All Subarus come with all-wheel drive and solid mechanicals that, while not quick, provide a solid driving experience. The Forester is one of the best-selling small SUVs because of its good looks, its large interior volume, and its unassuming wagon-like profile.

For 2023 the Forester starts at $26,395.

No. 5: Kia Sportage

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If you need some space in your small SUV, the Sportage offers the most room in the back. The Sportage’s new styling also sets it apart from others in the segment with its unconventional, bold, front end and grille. Though the 187-horsepower base engine won’t stir your soul, Kia does offer a 261-horsepower plug-in hybrid version that has an EV range off 34 miles. Inside, it comes with more tech and panache than you may expect, including two optional panoramic displays.

The Sportage starts at $26,290. The hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions start at $27,490 and $38,690, respectively.