Best Small and Compact SUVs for Australians

Best Small SUV

2015 is turning out to be a great year for prospective SUV buyers as the number of new and updated compact SUV models continue to land in Australia from the budget Tivolo to the pricier Peugeot 3008. Lets have a look at some of the best small SUVs Australians can now purchase.

1. Mazda CX-3

Recently launched in Australia is the Mazda CX-3, the small Japanese SUV is based on the popular Mazda 2 (hatchback).

This compact SUV comes with five doors and a choice of either a 2 litre petrol or a 1.5 litre turbo diesel engine. The infotainment system is excellent and integrates applications, navigation and phones without any problems. It is excellent to drive and especially strong was the steering, ride and handling.

The shallow boot is a letdown and only delivers 264 litre volume of space. The rear space is also smaller than many of its competitors. The Mazda 2 inspired interior also doesn’t reflect the price and there are also issues with road noise on rougher types of road.

Overall a contender for best small SUV, this good looking and well priced SUV with a frugal but punchy engine, has prices that start from $19,990.

See Also: 2016 Mazda CX-3 Akari Review

2. Renault Captur

Released in February this crossover is available with two turbocharged engines (petrol). There are both manual and automatic transmissions available.

The shape of the Captur is unusual but funky. Unfortunately due to the design and the position of the hip point, rear seat passengers do not get very much legroom (nor do they have air vents in the back) but because the seats are high up, there is extra room vertically for legs to drop down and enjoy. The 1.2 litre engine is well suited and the steering is smooth and responsive.

The transmission could do with a sport mode, as currently the dull six speed really accentuates the lack of power due to the fact that the transmission up-shifts to higher gears when the throttle is eased. The other aspects that let the Captur down are the ride and handling, as well as only having the standard four airbags (whilst the Skoda Yeti for example has a curtain airbag and a driver’s knee airbag). Prices start from $22,990.

BrandModelKey Features
Mazda CX-35-door with excellent infotainment system and option to choose between 2L petrol or 1.5 L turbo diesel engine. Boot is shallow and accommodates only 264 litre space volume. Small car, budget-friendly, but with a punchy engine.
Renault CapturCrossover type available in 2 turbocharged petrol engines and comes with manual and automatic transmissions. Funky shape compromises seating and leg comfort but because it has higher seats, there is vertical clearance that allows legs to drop down. Smooth and responsive 1.2 litre engine is a plus.
Peugeot3008Cargo space allows 435 litres with seats down and 1,604 litres when folded flat. With added 50 litres of space, small pockets, 7” screen with sat nav. Arkamys sound system, camera for reversing, and excellent suspension.
Nissan JukeInternally and externally updated with boomerang-shaped main headlights with LED daytime running lights. Compact grille and new 5.8” touchscreen display. Front wheel drive version accommodates 40% more space.
Honda HR-VEquipped with 105kW/172Nm 1.8-litre petrol engine, front wheel drive, and automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT). Magic seat system that folds up seats into multiple configurations, 7” touchscreen for infotainment operation, loaded with advanced safety features and priced affordably.
Ssangyong TivoliSmallest Ssangyong model (4.2 metres) and comes with a 4-cylinder 1.6 litre engines in petrol and diesel versions. Key-less entry system, dual zone climate control, camera for reversing and customisable interior lighting.

3. Peugeot 3008

Arriving in the second quarter of the year the Peugeot 3008 crossover sported a fresh design and some major changes. It excels when it comes to:

  • Cargo space, which totals 435 litres with seats or up to 1,604 litres when the seats are folded flat. As an added bonus there is 50 litres of space in the door and other small pockets.
  • Specification levels which have improved in the form of a 7 inch screen with sat nav, Arkamys sound system, storage bins underfloor and a camera to aid reversing.
  • The excellent suspension.

The Peugeot is let down by:

  • Unlike the exterior design, the cabin design looks dated.
  • Price is expensive compared to similar SUVs.
  • Knee room and engine are average.

Prices starting from $35,490.

4. Nissan Juke

Having arrived mid 2015 the Nissan Juke has been massively updated internally and externally.

The exterior now has boomeranged shaped main headlights with LED daytime running lights (lights that switch on automatically when the SUV is moving and are designed to make the SUV more conspicuous). The grille is more compact, the bumpers have been updated, as have the tail lights. The interior sports a new 5.8 touchscreen and for front wheel drive models the redesigned boot can accommodate up to 40% more, now 354 litres. With specs like this Juke is definitely a contender for best compact SUV.

While the previous model had 1.6 litre for its entry level models, the 2015 variant has a 85 kilowatts and 190Nm of torque in the 1.2-litre 4 cylinder turbo petrol engine. Prices start from $21,550.

5. Honda HR-V

The Honda HR-V landed in Australia in February (the HR-V standing for Hi-rider Revolutionary Vehicle). It was created by Honda with the aim of catering to the huge demand for the advantages of a SUV (e.g. cargo space and higher visibility) but with the fuel efficiency, performance and maneuverability of a small car. If the HR-V can fulfill those aspirations it wouldn’t be out of place to describe it as the best compact SUV. Once one of the early mini sports utility vehicles (SUV), the HR-V has now joined a massively competitive compact SUV market.

It has a 105kW/172Nm 1.8-litre petrol engine (like the Honda Civic), that powers the wheels at the front using an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT). A manual version is due at some point this year, but was not available at the time of writing.

Something which is available and comes as standard is alloy wheels which come with all versions of the 2015 model and the magic seats system that allows you to fold up seats into multiple configurations depending on what you need. There is a display audio system operated by a seven inch touchscreen which operates the infotainment including the:

  • Navigation
  • Smartphone integration features
  • Multimedia audio system
  • USB and HDMI connectivity
  • Reversing camera

Advanced safety features for the top model versions include:

  • Auto high beam to maintain excellent forward visibility.
  • Active city braking which helps reduce the chances of low speed collisions.
  • Auto monitoring of blind spot.
  • Warning system for collisions in front and for moving between lanes.

The price range for the Honda HR-V starts at $24,995.

6. Ssangyong Tivoli

The Ssangyong Tivoli is the smallest of the models Ssangyong have ever sold here in Australia. Measuring a compact 4.2 metres long, the Tivoli will compete with the Korando, the Peugeot 2008 and the Holden Trax in the low 20k price bracket, a ever popular segment of the compact SUV market. The Tivoli will come with a four cylinder pair of 1.6 litre engines with either a:

  • 4.2L/100km fuel consumption for the diesel version
  • 6L/100km fuel consumption for the petrol version

Other features that should be highlighted are the key-less entry system, dual zone (driver and front passenger have their own temperature control) climate control, camera for reversing and interior lighting that can be customised.


2015 has brought some freshness to the Australian SUV market, just as it has for the small car market. They add to an already decent number of compact SUVs that are available today. So once you have explored your needs and budgets properly there is sure to be a SUV perfect for you.


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