Best small SUVs

    Australia’s Best small SUVs as ranked by CarExpert

    Australians love small SUVs. There are few areas of the car market with as many options, let alone as many options taking different approaches to achieve the same outcome. 

    Most of these cars are a similar length to a Volkswagen Golf or Toyota Corolla, but generally sit up higher for a more commanding view of the road ahead, as well as offering the advantage of being easier to get in and out of. 

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    Skoda Kamiq
    8.0
    Skoda Kamiq
    $36,690 - $43,090

    Pros: Feels more expensive than it is, characterful engines, spacious interior

    Cons: Transmission can be awkward, not as cheap as when it launched

    Boot space: 400L

    The Kamiq is smaller than the Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30, but it’s a seriously smart little car. Not only does it have a massive boot, it drives like a bigger car on the highway.

    It has a classy feeling interior, with decent infotainment technology, a digital instrument cluster, lovely cloth seat trim and a really airy cabin that is far more thoughtful than many other small SUV models. It’ll work for a small family, if you need it to.

    There are two engines on offer, a three-cylinder 85TSI and a more powerful four-cylinder 110TSI. The 85TSI (85kW/200Nm) is more than enough for life in the city, but the more powerful 110TSI (110kW/250Nm) is better in every considerable way. Both have dual-clutch DSG auto gearboxes, and the four-cylinder is easier to live with from that perspective, too. Official fuel efficiency ranges between 5.0 and 5.6 litres per 100km.

    Skoda backs its cars with a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, and there is capped-price maintenance or prepaid servicing on offer.

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    4 Door Wagon
    50 L > 893 to 1000 km
    FWD
    1200 - 1250 kg Towing Capacity

    Pros: Feels more expensive than it is, characterful engines, spacious interior

    Cons: Transmission can be awkward, not as cheap as when it launched

    Boot space: 400L

    The Kamiq is smaller than the Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30, but it’s a seriously smart little car. Not only does it have a massive boot, it drives like a bigger car on the highway.

    It has a classy feeling interior, with decent infotainment technology, a digital instrument cluster, lovely cloth seat trim and a really airy cabin that is far more thoughtful than many other small SUV models. It’ll work for a small family, if you need it to.

    There are two engines on offer, a three-cylinder 85TSI and a more powerful four-cylinder 110TSI. The 85TSI (85kW/200Nm) is more than enough for life in the city, but the more powerful 110TSI (110kW/250Nm) is better in every considerable way. Both have dual-clutch DSG auto gearboxes, and the four-cylinder is easier to live with from that perspective, too. Official fuel efficiency ranges between 5.0 and 5.6 litres per 100km.

    Skoda backs its cars with a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, and there is capped-price maintenance or prepaid servicing on offer.

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    Hyundai Kona
    8.0
    Hyundai Kona
    $32,000 - $64,000

    Pros: Big style and presence, roomy interior for its size, hybrid broadly available (and EV coming)

    Cons: Some annoying safety tech, looks aren’t for everyone, no Kona N this time

    Boot space: From 374 to 407 litres

    Striking a pose and offering styling that looks like it has been flown in from the future, the new second-generation Kona small SUV from Hyundai isn’t going to be to all tastes.

    The new model is bigger inside and out than the first model, with a classy interior and plenty of standard technology on offer in the base grade, but the higher-spec Premium grade adds some really handy safety and convenience features like a surround view camera and leather trim.

    The entry-level 2.0L engine makes 110kW of power and 180Nm of torque, with a CVT auto sending it to the front wheels. There’s a faster option – the 1.6L turbo four-cylinder has 146kW/265Nm, and uses an eight-speed automatic transmission.

    The hybrid version uses a 1.6-litre engine teamed to an electric motor and battery pack, with combined outputs of 104kW/265Nm. A new-generation Kona EV is due soon, too.

    Fuel use varies from a claimed 3.9 litres per 100km for hybrid models, to 6.6L/100km for the 2.0L, and up to 7.6L/100km for the turbo.

    Hyundai offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and the brand also offers lifetime capped-price servicing.

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    4 Door Wagon
    FWD/AWD
    1600 kg Towing Capacity

    Pros: Big style and presence, roomy interior for its size, hybrid broadly available (and EV coming)

    Cons: Some annoying safety tech, looks aren’t for everyone, no Kona N this time

    Boot space: From 374 to 407 litres

    Striking a pose and offering styling that looks like it has been flown in from the future, the new second-generation Kona small SUV from Hyundai isn’t going to be to all tastes.

    The new model is bigger inside and out than the first model, with a classy interior and plenty of standard technology on offer in the base grade, but the higher-spec Premium grade adds some really handy safety and convenience features like a surround view camera and leather trim.

    The entry-level 2.0L engine makes 110kW of power and 180Nm of torque, with a CVT auto sending it to the front wheels. There’s a faster option – the 1.6L turbo four-cylinder has 146kW/265Nm, and uses an eight-speed automatic transmission.

    The hybrid version uses a 1.6-litre engine teamed to an electric motor and battery pack, with combined outputs of 104kW/265Nm. A new-generation Kona EV is due soon, too.

    Fuel use varies from a claimed 3.9 litres per 100km for hybrid models, to 6.6L/100km for the 2.0L, and up to 7.6L/100km for the turbo.

    Hyundai offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and the brand also offers lifetime capped-price servicing.

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    Toyota Corolla Cross
    8.4
    Toyota Corolla Cross
    $∞ - -$∞

    Pros: Roomy and comfortable cabin, amazing hybrid efficiency, extensive model range

    Cons: Base models are very basic, GX has halogen DRLs, long waits

    Boot space: From 380 to 436 litres

    Talk about hitting the nail on the head.

    The Toyota Corolla Cross is the most appealing small SUV to come from the brand since the original RAV4, with this predictable and practical high-riding model offering a far more family-friendly option than the quirkier C-HR it sits alongside, and it’s far more capable and refined than the Yaris Cross, too.

    In fact, the way the Corolla Cross fills the gap between the smaller models and the larger RAV4 will no doubt have had some smaller families second-guessing if they need something larger, because it has a sizable back seat that can accommodate adults or youngsters with ease, while the boot is also practical for the size of the car.

    It has the high-ride height thing sorted, and it’s offered with a choice of a 2.0-litre non-turbo petrol engine in all three grades, which in its own right is a pretty good thing with 126kW/206Nm. But the 2.0L hybrid petrol-electric model with a maximum power output of 146kW, and the choice or front- or all-wheel drive, is the winner here. Fuel consumption, officially, is 4.3L/100km for hybrid 2WD, 4.4L/100km for the hybrid AWD, and 6.0L/100km for the petrol model.

    Toyota offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, plus up to seven years powertrain warranty if maintenance is conducted on time. Plus, hybrid buyers have up to 10 years warranty for the battery if annual system health checks are done. Capped-price servicing is cheap, too.

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    Infinity - -Infinity kg Towing Capacity

    Excellent hybrid efficiency

    AWD premium seems excessive

    Pros: Roomy and comfortable cabin, amazing hybrid efficiency, extensive model range

    Cons: Base models are very basic, GX has halogen DRLs, long waits

    Boot space: From 380 to 436 litres

    Talk about hitting the nail on the head.

    The Toyota Corolla Cross is the most appealing small SUV to come from the brand since the original RAV4, with this predictable and practical high-riding model offering a far more family-friendly option than the quirkier C-HR it sits alongside, and it’s far more capable and refined than the Yaris Cross, too.

    In fact, the way the Corolla Cross fills the gap between the smaller models and the larger RAV4 will no doubt have had some smaller families second-guessing if they need something larger, because it has a sizable back seat that can accommodate adults or youngsters with ease, while the boot is also practical for the size of the car.

    It has the high-ride height thing sorted, and it’s offered with a choice of a 2.0-litre non-turbo petrol engine in all three grades, which in its own right is a pretty good thing with 126kW/206Nm. But the 2.0L hybrid petrol-electric model with a maximum power output of 146kW, and the choice or front- or all-wheel drive, is the winner here. Fuel consumption, officially, is 4.3L/100km for hybrid 2WD, 4.4L/100km for the hybrid AWD, and 6.0L/100km for the petrol model.

    Toyota offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, plus up to seven years powertrain warranty if maintenance is conducted on time. Plus, hybrid buyers have up to 10 years warranty for the battery if annual system health checks are done. Capped-price servicing is cheap, too.

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    Volkswagen T-Roc
    8.1
    Volkswagen T-Roc
    $36,890 - $63,490

    Pros: Classy feeling cabin, great range of models, R version is a thrill machine

    Cons: Base grade a bit plain inside, missing some safety items, no DSG in low spec

    Boot space: From 392 to 445 litres

    The Volkswagen T-Roc has suddenly – but not surprisingly – become the most popular VW in Australia.

    It’s easy to see why, with the T-Roc offering a great sized package, with a slightly higher ride height than a VW Golf but a slightly shorter body, nose to tail. It has a decent back seat, and a boot size that is big enough for a couple or small family, or ideal for second car duties.

    There’s a selection of four different variants available, with the entry-level City Life and Style models both using a 110kW/250Nm four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with an eight-speed auto. The R-Line model is all-wheel drive, with a 2.0L turbo engine with 140kW/320Nm and a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. But the real go-fast hero here is the T-Roc, which has 221kW/400Nm and AWD.

    Fuel use varies from 6.3L to 8.0L per 100km, and there is no hybrid model on offer.

    Volkswagen has a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and there’s the choice of pay-as-you-go capped-price servicing, or prepaid maintenance for three or five years.

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    4 Door Wagon
    50 to 55 L > 663 to 794 km
    FWD/AWD
    1500 - 1700 kg Towing Capacity

    Pros: Classy feeling cabin, great range of models, R version is a thrill machine

    Cons: Base grade a bit plain inside, missing some safety items, no DSG in low spec

    Boot space: From 392 to 445 litres

    The Volkswagen T-Roc has suddenly – but not surprisingly – become the most popular VW in Australia.

    It’s easy to see why, with the T-Roc offering a great sized package, with a slightly higher ride height than a VW Golf but a slightly shorter body, nose to tail. It has a decent back seat, and a boot size that is big enough for a couple or small family, or ideal for second car duties.

    There’s a selection of four different variants available, with the entry-level City Life and Style models both using a 110kW/250Nm four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with an eight-speed auto. The R-Line model is all-wheel drive, with a 2.0L turbo engine with 140kW/320Nm and a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. But the real go-fast hero here is the T-Roc, which has 221kW/400Nm and AWD.

    Fuel use varies from 6.3L to 8.0L per 100km, and there is no hybrid model on offer.

    Volkswagen has a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and there’s the choice of pay-as-you-go capped-price servicing, or prepaid maintenance for three or five years.

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    BYD Atto 3 EV
    8.2
    BYD Atto 3 EV
    $48,011 - $51,011

    Pros: Affordable EV small SUV, great space efficiency, interesting interior tech

    Cons: Cabin materials questionable, rubbish tyres, weird servicing options

    Boot space: From 440 litres

    There has never been a more successful small electric SUV in Australia. The BYD Atto 3 owns that market.

    And it’s deserved success, for the most part. Rather conventional in its design on the outside, the Atto 3 really stands out in a blending-in kind of way, though the interior is polarising with some of the quirkiest design and trim choices in any small SUV.

    There’s neat tech, like a rotating central touchscreen media system and sat nav, but some of the controls and finishes are just weird. Thankfully though, the space is very good for a little SUV, with enough room for adults to fit in comfortable front and rear, and the boot is a good size – but keep in mind that because it’s an EV, there’s no spare wheel.

    The Atto 3 has a choice of a Standard Range 50kWh LFP battery pack with up to 345km WLTP rated EV range, while the Extended Range model adds $3000 to the price and increases the LFP “BYD Blade” battery capacity to 60kWh with 420km of range (WLTP).

    The front-mounted electric motor is good for 150kW and 310Nm, while charging is rated to AC 7kW or up to 80kW DC for the Extended Range (70kW for the Standard Range).

    The BYD Atto 3 has a six-year/unlimited kilometre warranty for the car, but there are other warranty stipulations, like the electric motor, assembly and motor controller (eight years/160,000km) – there’s even more detail in our review. Servicing is due every 12 months/20,000km once the initial 5000km check-up is done, and there’s a choice of capped-price plans, depending on how much you plan to drive the car.

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    4 Door Wagon
    FWD

    Pros: Affordable EV small SUV, great space efficiency, interesting interior tech

    Cons: Cabin materials questionable, rubbish tyres, weird servicing options

    Boot space: From 440 litres

    There has never been a more successful small electric SUV in Australia. The BYD Atto 3 owns that market.

    And it’s deserved success, for the most part. Rather conventional in its design on the outside, the Atto 3 really stands out in a blending-in kind of way, though the interior is polarising with some of the quirkiest design and trim choices in any small SUV.

    There’s neat tech, like a rotating central touchscreen media system and sat nav, but some of the controls and finishes are just weird. Thankfully though, the space is very good for a little SUV, with enough room for adults to fit in comfortable front and rear, and the boot is a good size – but keep in mind that because it’s an EV, there’s no spare wheel.

    The Atto 3 has a choice of a Standard Range 50kWh LFP battery pack with up to 345km WLTP rated EV range, while the Extended Range model adds $3000 to the price and increases the LFP “BYD Blade” battery capacity to 60kWh with 420km of range (WLTP).

    The front-mounted electric motor is good for 150kW and 310Nm, while charging is rated to AC 7kW or up to 80kW DC for the Extended Range (70kW for the Standard Range).

    The BYD Atto 3 has a six-year/unlimited kilometre warranty for the car, but there are other warranty stipulations, like the electric motor, assembly and motor controller (eight years/160,000km) – there’s even more detail in our review. Servicing is due every 12 months/20,000km once the initial 5000km check-up is done, and there’s a choice of capped-price plans, depending on how much you plan to drive the car.

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    MG ZST
    7.7
    MG ZST
    $24,490 - $32,990

    Pros: One of the cheapest small SUVs, surround view camera standard, panoramic glass roof

    Cons: Need to spend up to higher grades for turbo engine, no ANCAP score for ZST, not a great media system

    Boot space: From 359 litres

    Australia’s most popular small SUV is the claim that the MG ZS and ZST stake in 2023, and the brand is really capitalising on the lack of really affordable compact crossover models.

    The thing about it is that if you’re upgrading from a used 10-year-old car, you’re going to feel like you’re getting the bargain of a lifetime. There are some wow-factor moments inside, with interesting trim, a (fidgety) touchscreen media system with smartphone mirroring, and fully digital instruments. Urban-dwellers will appreciate the surround-view camera, standard on all grades.

    Now, there’s a range of standard safety technology in the ZST that you don’t get in the base model ZS, like auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and six airbags.

    It used to be that the ‘T’ part of the ZST name meant you got the turbo engine, but that’s no longer the case. The entry-level versions now get a 1.5L non-turbo four-cylinder with 84kW/150Nm and a CVT auto, while the Excite and Essence grades have a 1.3L turbo three-cylinder with 115kW/230Nm, and a six-speed auto. All are front-wheel drive.

    Fuel use ranges from 6.9L/100km for the non-turbo to 7.3L/100km for the turbo models.

    MG offers a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assistance for the duration, plus there’s capped-price servicing for seven years or 70,000km, too.

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    5 Door Wagon
    45 to 48 L > 658 to 652 km
    FWD
    500 kg Towing Capacity

    Attractive, roomy cabin

    Four-star ANCAP rating

    Pros: One of the cheapest small SUVs, surround view camera standard, panoramic glass roof

    Cons: Need to spend up to higher grades for turbo engine, no ANCAP score for ZST, not a great media system

    Boot space: From 359 litres

    Australia’s most popular small SUV is the claim that the MG ZS and ZST stake in 2023, and the brand is really capitalising on the lack of really affordable compact crossover models.

    The thing about it is that if you’re upgrading from a used 10-year-old car, you’re going to feel like you’re getting the bargain of a lifetime. There are some wow-factor moments inside, with interesting trim, a (fidgety) touchscreen media system with smartphone mirroring, and fully digital instruments. Urban-dwellers will appreciate the surround-view camera, standard on all grades.

    Now, there’s a range of standard safety technology in the ZST that you don’t get in the base model ZS, like auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and six airbags.

    It used to be that the ‘T’ part of the ZST name meant you got the turbo engine, but that’s no longer the case. The entry-level versions now get a 1.5L non-turbo four-cylinder with 84kW/150Nm and a CVT auto, while the Excite and Essence grades have a 1.3L turbo three-cylinder with 115kW/230Nm, and a six-speed auto. All are front-wheel drive.

    Fuel use ranges from 6.9L/100km for the non-turbo to 7.3L/100km for the turbo models.

    MG offers a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assistance for the duration, plus there’s capped-price servicing for seven years or 70,000km, too.

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