We delve into the small SUV market and pick our top 5 small SUV’s under $30k from Honda HR-V, Kia Seltos, Hyundai Kona, Toyota C-Hr and VW T-Cross. In our opinion, these are the best examples based on value for money, looks, driveability, safety and technology. We didn’t include the Mitsubishi ASX or the Nissan Qashqai. Whilst popular, they are both older generation cars 10yrs and 6yrs respectively.
Ultimately a car is very personal. We offer knowledge, experience and recommendations however the decision is yours. Our goal is to guide and advise to ensure our clients get the very best car at the very best price. Here are our top 5 small SUV’s under $30k starting with number one although position 1 and 2 could easily be reversed depending on personal style. For us, the T-Cross finishes first because of the overall package and the spirit of the drive.
Entry-level ‘Life’ priced from $27,990 MSRP. 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbo, 85KW/200Nm
This car is more than the sum of its parts. Based on the Polo platform it drives and feels like a bigger car. The 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbo is responsive and fun to drive and very frugal on fuel 5.4L/100km. Add lots of technology and safety features plus funky styling and a price point that is good value for money.
An 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone connectivity apps, wireless phone charging, four USB ports, rain-sensing wipers, as well as an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Auto emergency braking (AEB) that works at speeds from 5-250km/h, pedestrian and cyclist detection (4-80km/h), lane departure warning and lane-keeping system that works at speeds of 60-200km/h.
A reversing camera and parking sensors all around. In addition, the sensors incorporate ‘Manoeuvre Braking’, meaning an auto-brake engages if a low-speed impact is predicted (rear AEB) and finally 6 airbags. 5 Star ANCAP safety rating.
5 yr warranty and capped servicing plus as well VW have some new service plans available that are worthy of a look.
VW’s boot is so versatile, due to a modular second row. This is unique in this section of the market. The rear seats are adjustable allowing for a maximum boot capacity of 455L making the T-Cross top of the class. Alternatively, maximize legroom in the second row and boot capacity reduces to 385L.
Due to the higher suspension design in this class of vehicle and being built on the Polo platform, cornering at speed and uneven road surfaces is not a strength.
No cup holders , fold-down armrest or rear ceiling-mount grab handles in the back if that is important.
No sat nav
We think VW is on the money with this fun, well finished, value for money small SUV. Also, you are getting a semi-prestige car on a budget. Here is an excellent video review by Matt Campbell, we think will cement why the T-Cross is our pick for top 5 small SUV’S under $40k
Entry 2.0 S Safety Pack CVT 4 cyl 2 litre CVT transmission with additional Safety Pack $26,990 MSRP.
Most reviewers agree the arrival of the Seltos in 2019 was a game-changer in the Small SUV market. Attractive modern styling, excellent safety features and great tech compatibility make this car a stand-out. Add Kia’s 7-Year Warranty and this is a tough package to overlook. As we said earlier first and second place in our top 5 small SUV’s could easily be reversed.
Adding the $1,000 safety pack to the base model is the sweet spot. In our opinion, the addition of electronic parking brake with auto hold, Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB) with Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS) – cyclist avoidance, Adaptive Cruise Control and Driver Attention Alert + (DAA) over the standard Driver Attention Alert system in the S and electric folding wing mirrors is good value. ANCAP 5 star rating and 6 airbags.
8″ colour LCD touch screen with MP3 compatible audio player with AM/FM tuner (no digital radio or sat nav), USB and Bluetooth compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get remote central locking with keyless entry.
Australian tuned suspension and a well-respected CVT system makes city driving, cornering at speed and highway driving very enjoyable.
No sat nav or digital radio.
Hubcaps! No alloys on the entry level S model.
Feel of the rubber steering wheel and hard plastics throughout detracts from the overall finish.
In short, choosing the right car for you is what is important and in this instance, there is very little between the T-Cross and the Seltos in our top 5 small SUV’s. It really comes down to personal choice. It might be as simple as fewer dollars spent and the 7 yr warranty!
1.2-litre 4 cyl turbo with CVT FWD $29,540 MSRP
C-HR stands for ‘Coupe High Rider’ how simple it that? Being a Toyota you know it will be a quality build but it is the external funky SUV styling that grabs your attention. It is more than just a reliable small SUV. Clearly Toyota thas its sites set on the younger buyer
The recent upgrade to the infotainment system has been well-received now with an 8.0-inch touchscreen which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, smartphone mirroring, sat nav, Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, AM/FM radio and a six-speaker audio system.
Interior finishes are of a high quality although some may feel it is all very black!
Dual-zone climate control, powered folding door mirrors, and an electric park brake.
The design of rear side windows makes sitting in the back quite claustrophobic and adds to rear view visibility being compromised.
An all black interior may not appeal to all.
Smaller sloped boot impacts overall boot capacity to 377L.
Three years/100,000km warranty.
Toyota has and will continue to have a strong loyal following. Now they are adding their appeal to a younger more style-conscious demographic with the C-HR. From a driving perspective, the C-HR is solid and effortless. It transitions well between city and highway driving. There is nothing technically you would be concerned about here. It drives and feels like a well-made car that is reliable but with a bit more. You feel like you are driving in something that is modern and stylish and will get you noticed. We really like this small SUV it just doesn’t deliver quite as much as the VW and the Kia.
Active 2.0-litre 4 cyl Auto FWD $25,800 MSRP
16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, rear spoiler, rear parking sensors, leather steering wheel and shifter, rear-seat fold-down armrest, and an 8.0-inch multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, sat nav, digital radio, smartphone mirroring, a reversing camera, reversing sensors, LED DRLs, halogen headlights, cloth interior trim, leather wheel and gear knob trim.
All Konas have a comprehensive safety package in the form of camera-based city-speed auto emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning (LDW) with lane keep assist (LKAS) driver attention alert (DAA). ANCAP 5 star safety with 6 airbags.
The drive is like a hatchback, sticks to the road with direct steering, pretty good fun.
The 2.0-litre engine is a bit rough and noisy. The power is right but revs highly. This impacts inside cabin noise.
Inside plastic finishes may not appeal and the lack of a padded armrest particularly for the driver.
Rear seat is quite tight for adult passengers.
361 Litre boot space
We chose the Active model because of the additional safety features and a touch more tech (larger infotainment screen) however if you are looking for a fun smart city drive the entry level Go at $24,000 before on-roads is good value for money.
VTi 1.8-litre 4 cyl FWD $25,490 MSRP
Hondas biggest seller in Australia. It is practical, sporty looking and passenger-friendly. Interior finish and layout are well done and with a quiet ride. This is a very sensible car that won’t offend.
Honda’s Magic Seats. They fold down like most of the competitors however they fold completely flat for a big boot, or the base can be lifted up to allow a deep space at the second row.
A multi-view reversing camera, a tyre pressure monitoring system, fast-illuminating LED taillights, city-speed automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning.
ANCAP 5 star rating and six airbags.
Five year unlimited warranty
The CVT transmission is not as smooth as others in its class nor is the acceleration. The 1.8-litre engine producing only 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque.
Interior finishes feel outdated.
Automatic emergency braking not standard.
Overall a good looking small SUV that drives sensibly with great cargo capacity. The VTi is attractively priced particularly now the infotainment system has just been upgraded but feels a little outdated and lacks some safety features of the others in its class.
As we said at the start this was a close competition and choosing the top spot in our top 5 small SUV’s comes down to what is right for you and your driving preferences. This is a big investment and one that should be tailored to you.
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