2023 Best Small SUVs: 10 winners revealed in new Wheels comparison series

Whatever you’re looking for in a new compact SUV, Wheels has the answers in the first of a new segment-blitzing, multi-comparison series

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Welcome to the new Wheels Best series that will interrogate vehicle segments like never before, giving consumers the definitive guide to – as we say on the tin – the best new cars available.

Wheels is famous for its ‘Megatests’, though we wanted to go further than these giant group comparisons that have typically focused on one price point in any given vehicle category.

The Wheels Best series will cover multiple sub-categories in one vehicle segment to better assist new-car buyers who have differing needs and desires: whether their priority is family practicality, performance, value for money, or luxury; whether they have a particular budget cap; or whether they’re simply after a particular drivetrain such as hybrid or electric.

This also allows for any given make-model to be represented across different sub-categories by its multiple variants.

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Above: Contenders in the Best Small SUV Under $45k category

In time-honoured Wheels tradition, we also crown an overall segment winner.

And for our first ever Wheels Best segment, Small SUVs make for a natural choice.

The Small SUV category is the third most popular in Australia – accounting for about a fifth of the new-car market when you include ‘light’ SUVs. Industry body FCAI separates light and small SUVs in its VFACTS sales figures, but this doesn’t account for major price overlaps between the two.

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Similarly, we’ve pulled the Cupra Formentor from its official ‘Medium SUV’ classification because, at 4.4 metres long, the Spanish five-door sits below our 4.5m threshold for distinguishing small SUVs.

The Formentor joins the Toyota Corolla Cross as a still-fresh model, both released in 2022, while the Volkswagen T-Roc was heavily updated last year, too.

More intriguingly, there’s a significant number of new-generation models that have launched in 2023: the BMW X1, Nissan Qashqai, Subaru Crosstrek (née XV), and Hyundai Kona. There’s also Alfa’s first ever baby SUV, the Tonale.

Yet, as our Wheels Best series covers all small SUVs you can buy right now, how long a car has been on sale is irrelevant. Indeed, one of our category winners was first released in 2019.

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So, what are the best Small SUVs you can buy in 2023?

Read on for the most comprehensive comparison guide you’ll find to the world of compact sports utility vehicles.

Hit the links below to see our category stories


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