Best Small SUV Australia 2021

By Alexi Falson on 03 Sep 2021
image for Best Small SUV Australia 2021 Since their introduction to the Australian car buyers, small SUVs have taken the market by storm and are showing no signs of losing momentum any time soon.

Almost every major manufacturer has at least one compact SUV in their stables, presenting buyers with an extremely attractive value for money proposition bundled with the benefits of added ride height, which is particularly welcomed for new drivers and those looking to keep their family safe.

The overwhelming positive to the fact that small SUVs, otherwise known as compact SUVs (CUVs) or compact crossovers are flooding the market, is that buyers have more choices than ever before.

The flow-on impact of this competition is that manufacturers are often attempting to out-do the competition, with new models offering more features and attractive ownership propositions - like long warranties and capped price servicing - than ever before. 

The downside, however, is that a flooded market means that it can be difficult to know what’s the best option for you, your partner or your family. In a market segment filled with contenders, it can be an impossible task to filter out the true performers from a crowd of pretenders.

With that in mind, you’ll be glad to know that we’ve put together a list of some of the best small SUVs available in Australia, which we’ve narrowed down to 15 entrants. 

Let’s talk about 15 of the best small SUV offerings on the Australian market, which are listed here in no particular order. 

1. Mazda CX-30 G20 Astina FWD 

The first entrant on our list goes to the Mazda CX-30, which is one of the most stylish offerings you’ll find on the market. It’s positioned as a premium offering within the compact SUV market, with prices kicking off from $29,990 and stretching out to more than $45,000. The G20 Astina is one of our favourite within the CX-30 lineup, considering how generously equipped it comes with creature comforts and active safety technology, and gives more premium offerings from the likes of BMW and Lexus a genuine challenge in terms of styling and equipment as standard. 

For $38,990, you get LED headlights, heated seats, modern infotainment system paired with a premium Bose sound system and 360-degree camera as standard, making it a feature-packed offering in the small SUV market. 

2. Hyundai Kona 2.0 Highlander 

The Hyundai Kona is one of the most unique offerings in the small SUV market, with a unique styling package that separates itself from the crowded marketplace. You should know, however, that under its unique looks, the Kona is a fabulous car to drive and proves that there is genuine substance - as well as style - in Hyundai’s compact SUV lineup. 

The Kona lineup received a much-needed refresh earlier this year, which has made it an even more attractive car for those looking for a small SUV. Best of all, the Highlander comes packed with safety technology and creature comforts like a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, a huge 10.25-inch infotainment screen, heated and ventilated seats, as well as a premium sound system from Harmon Kardon. All these features are packed into a vehicle that is tuned specifically for Australian roads, meaning the Kona is adaptable and comfortable both around the urban environment and on rough country B-roads. 

3. Toyota Yaris Cross Urban Hybrid AWD 

The Yaris Cross is Toyota’s latest attempt at the compact SUV, which combines modern, funky styling with the latest hybrid technology that Toyota has to offer. As a result, the Yaris Cross is a fresh take on the small SUV, and in hybrid form, offers one of the most fuel efficient models on the market. In standard petrol form, the Yaris Cross is rated at 5.4L per 100km, which is a pretty impressive figure in and of itself. 

In hybrid form, however, the Yaris Cross brings this figure down to just 4.0L per 100km, making it perhaps the most economical small SUV you can currently buy in Australia. While it might be lacking in terms of interior charm and personality, the Yaris Cross still comes well equipped, both in terms of features and safety technology to keep you and your family safe. 

4. Kia Seltos Sport+

Kia’s small SUV, known as the Seltos, is one of the most appealing value for money propositions on the market, and also comes packing some serious practicality credentials to boot. In the Seltos Sport+, you’ll receive a huge 10.25-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a reversing camera with front and rear-mounted parking sensors, active cruise control system, leather steering wheel, climate control, Kia’s full suite of active safety technologies. 

This is all packaged in one of the most practical small SUV bodies, which can accommodate five people in comfort, and up to 433L of cargo storage in the boot, which is significantly more than you’ll find in most small SUVs on the market. 

5. Skoda Kamiq 110TSI Monte Carlo 

The Skoda Kamiq is one of the lesser-known vehicles on our list of the best SUVs available in Australia, but it is a vehicle that truly deserves a spot on your shortlist. Priced from $34,190, the Kamiq 110TSI Monte Carlo comes packed with a punchy petrol engine, sporty interior and genuine practicality suited to families looking to escape the city in style. 

As standard, the Kamiq comes packaged with 18-inch alloys, adaptive LED headlights, wireless smartphone charging and a large 10.25-inch infotainment system with smartphone connectivity. The Kamiq features a boot design that can accommodate up to 400L of cargo, as well as seats that do a great job comfortably seating large passengers, making it a great option for those looking for a sleek, tech-filled and practical small SUV. 

6. Toyota CH-R GXL FWD Auto 

The CH-R GXL Auto is Toyota’s entry-level compact SUV, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a feature-packed addition to the market. For those looking for maximum bang-for-your-buck, the CH-R is one of the best options. It rides on 17-inch alloys and is packed with adaptive cruise control, automatic LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, climate control and a 8.0-inch infotainment system. 

Toyota’s compact SUV is also surprisingly adept when it comes to accommodating large rear passengers, and has 380L of storage in the boot, which is above par for this part of the segment. While it’s not the most flamboyant entrant on our list, as a reliable and trustworthy companion, the CH-R is a great option for families looking for the best value on the market. 

7. Nissan QASHQAI Ti 

While the Nissan QASHQAI may have one of the most difficult names to pronounce on our list, it’s a vehicle very deserving of your time and attention. In range-topping Ti form, the QASHQAI comes feature-packed and presents buyers with a design that can truly accommodate a family in comfort, which is more than can be said for a number of small SUVs. 

The Ti receives a fully-appointed Nappa leather interior, panoramic sunroof, heated seats, 7.0-inch infotainment system, automatic wipers, 360-degree camera with front and rear-mounted parking sensors and keyless entry and start. For the segment, there’s a generous amount of legroom in the rear of the QASHQAI’s interior, combined with 430L of cargo storage available in the boot. 

8. Mazda CX-3 Akari LE AWD 

Mazda’s CX-3 lineup presents buyers with a number of opportunities to step into a stylish, feature-packed compact SUV across a number of price-points. For budget-conscious buyers, the entry-level CX-3 Neo Sport and Maxx Sport both present an extremely attractive value for money entry point into the segment. 

If you’re less sensitive to price concerns, however, the range-topping CX-3 Akari LE is one of the most attractive offerings within Mazda’s lineup, considering just how many premium features it comes packaged with. As standard, the CX-3 Akari LE comes fitted with 18-inch alloys, as well as adaptive LED headlights, heads-up driver’s display, Nappy leather upholstery, 7.0-inch infotainment system, panoramic sunroof, significantly upgraded interior trim and a 360-degree camera. 

9. Ford Puma ST-Line 

Ford’s most recent entry to the small SUV market came in the form of the groundbreaking little Puma, which is very potentially one of the most engaging compact SUVs to drive on the market. A small but powerful turbocharged three-cylinder engine throws power to the road via a smooth dual-clutch transmission, making it one of the most dynamic performers in the segment. 

The ST-Line comes at a $5,000 premium over the $30,000 starting price for the Puma lineup, but makes up for this price increase with a number of key features. There’s a huge 12.3-inch display for the driver and a 8.0-inch infotainment system, as well as wireless smartphone charging, wheel-mounted paddle shifters, 18-inch alloys and leather upholstery, as well as 410L of storage in the Puma’s boot. 

10. Toyota C-HR Koba Hybrid AWD 

Considering Toyota is the world’s largest manufacturer of budget-friendly vehicles, the company’s small SUV, known as the CH-R is so well-credentialed that it’s actually earned two spots on our list. Toyota’s CH-R Koba variant adds some of the more premium features you might find the entry-level model lacking, as well as an extremely economical hybrid engine that offers a handsome amount of power and class-leading fuel economy standards for the segment. 

As standard, the CH-R Koba hybrid comes riding on 18-inch alloys and receives LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera, 8.0-inch infotainment system with smartphone connectivity. More significantly, Toyota’s hybrid engine fitted to the CH-R returns fuel economy figures of just 4.3L per 100km on a combined cycle, which makes it perhaps Australia’s most economical small, hybrid SUVs. 

11. Volkswagen T-Cross 85TSI Style 

The Volkswagen T-Cross is a small, compact SUV that is actually based on one of VW’s most iconic small cars, the Polo. Since its introduction, the T-Cross has given the segment’s leaders - the Hyundai Venue and Mazda CX-3 - a serious challenge for the segment’s outright leader. The T-Cross 85TSI Style sits atop VW’s T-Cross lineup, but in exchange for your extra dollars, it comes feature-packed and lacks no significant equipment compared to its rivals, and still represents a great value deal in the small SUV segment. 

It comes riding on 17-inch alloys, and is packaged with LED headlights, an 8.0-inch infotainment system, chrome roof rails, automatic headlights, wireless smartphone charging, leather-wrapped steering wheel, adaptive cruise control and comfort sport seats. Volkswagen’s creations are often recognised as some of the refined vehicles for the money, so if you’re looking for a smooth and stylish small SUV, the VW T-Cross deserves a spot on your shortlist. 

12. Honda HR-V RS

Honda’s entrant to the small SUV market, known as the HR-V, is priced from $26,900, and represents a rock-solid offering from one of the world’s most reliable manufacturers. Prices for the Honda HR-V RS jump to around $33,000, however, you’ll be glad to know that this comes in exchange for a number of key features and sporty touches, in one of the segment’s most practical offerings. As standard, the HR-V RS rides on 18-inch alloys, and comes packaged with LED headlights, foglights and LED tail lights, as well as leather upholstery, paddle shifters, sports pedals and an updated 7.0-inch infotainment system. 

Best of all, these features fit into a cleverly designed, adaptable and spacious interior that offers most Australian families all the practicality they need from a small, compact SUV. 

13. MG ZST Essence 

Priced from just $25,490, MG’s ZST lineup is one of the most affordable compact SUVs on the market, presenting buyers with a whole load of value from a fairly new manufacturer looking to win over new buyers. We believe, though, that stepping up to MG’s flagship ZST Essence, which is priced from $32,990 is a worthwhile investment, considering just how many premium features the car comes packaged with. It comes riding on 17-inch alloys, and receives LED head and tail lights, a 360-degree camera, 10.1-inch infotainment system, leatherette upholstery, panoramic sunroof, digital instrument cluster, heated front seats and a heap of active safety technologies. While it’s not a segment-leader in terms of practicality, there is still a perfectly acceptable 359L of cargo storage in the ZST’s boot. 

14. Hyundai Venue Active 

Hyundai’s pint-sized SUV comes in the form of the Venue, which is priced from just $20,940, and $22,870 for our preferred Active variant. Hyundai’s Venue lineup is one of the most compelling value offerings in the small SUV segment, with the base model coming packaged with pretty much everything you’ll need. The Active variant adds 17-inch alloys, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever, roof rails, 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth, as well as a rear view camera with parking sensors and a heap of Hyundai’s safety kit as standard. The Venue goes to prove that you don’t need to spend too much money to get a vehicle that ticks all the important boxes, so with that in mind, add it to your shortlist. 

15. Kia Stonic GT-Line 

Our last entrant to our list of the best small SUV’s currently available comes in the form of a Kia that only recently hit the market here in Australia, but looks to have hit the ground running. Kia’s Stonic lineup is priced from $23,490 drive-away, and stretches out to $30,490 for our preferred variant, the Stonic GT-Line. It comes feature-packed and ready for action, riding on 17-inch alloys and receiving LED headlights, an 8.0-inch infotainment system with full connectivity, sport seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear-view camera with sensors and a heap of Kia’s active safety technologies. 

If you’re looking to move into a small SUV, or wanting to upgrade from your existing compact SUV, don’t forget that OnlineAuto’s team of car-buying experts can help you find your dream car at the best price.


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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