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Best compact SUVs under $30k

The best compact SUVs under $30,000.

​If you are in the market for the best small SUV under $30k in Australia, you have a lot of options to choose from.

There are literally dozens of vehicles that slot in the SUV under $30,000 category, with most of them being small SUVs, though there are some mid-sizers that also fit the budget in entry-level guises. Some of those vehicles may well be cheap, but they don't quite represent the sort of good value we're getting at when we look at small or compact SUVs. 

At the time of writing, there are 29 light/small SUVs on the market, with all but one slotting under $40K. But let's take that budget down even further, to $30k, and see what we're left with. It's worth remembering that the more you spend, the more you'll get - and that's certainly the case for some of these models, a few of which reserve the best equipment (often safety-focused kit, in fact) for the top-tier models.

Here we present to you seven of the best compact SUVs you can get - ones that are affordable but well equipped, offering the best value for money buyers can ask for. And while most small SUV models are front-wheel drive, there are even some small 4WD cars that hit the target, too.

Let's get to it.

01. Kia Seltos

Though the Seltos is small in size, it's big on practicality.

Kia's long-awaited small SUV competitor finally hit Australian showrooms in late 2019, and though it's small in size, it's big on practicality.

Pricing kicks off from $24,990 before on-road costs, which nets you the front-drive S grade. The next-level-up Sport (also a front driver) costs $27,990, but all grades above – the Sport+ FWD, Sport+ all-wheel drive (AWD) and GT-Line AWD – are all priced above $30,000.

All FWD versions are powered by a 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine, outputting 110kW/180Nm, and paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), while the AWD grades get a 130kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol unit and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

As with all Australian-spec Kias, the Seltos benefits from a local suspension tune.

The boot of the Seltos will accommodate 433 litres, which can expand to 1393L with the second-row seats folded down. The boot of the Seltos will accommodate 433 litres, which can expand to 1393L with the second-row seats folded down.

The boot of the Seltos will accommodate 433 litres, which can expand to 1393L with the second-row seats folded down, but the entry-level S grade can actually take 65L more due to its space-saver spare tyre.

Standard equipment on the base Seltos includes 16-inch steel wheels, 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic headlights and six-speaker sound system.

Safety features are limited to a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist and cruise control, but buyers can opt for a $1000 safety pack that adds more features.

The Sport however, benefits from 17-inch alloy wheels, a 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen with satellite navigation, climate control and premium appointments, with the optional safety pack still available to buyers.

List price: from $24,990
Fuel consumption: 6.8L/100km 
CO2: 157g/km
Fuel Tank: 50L
ANCAP: 5 star
Seats: 5
Warranty: 7yr/unlimited
Service Interval: 12-month/15,000km
Engine size: 2.0-litre
Cylinders: Four
Fuel Type: Petrol
kW: 110kW
Torque: 180Nm
Transmission: CVT auto FWD
Spare: Full-size / Space-saver
Length: 4370mm
Width: 1800mm
Height: 1615mm

Kia Seltos

Kia Seltos
4
From
$25,490
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

02. Toyota C-HR

People literally stopped me in the street to ask “what is that?”. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

If the SUV above this one on the list is the practicality hero, perhaps the Toyota C-HR should be considered the opposite. It's not a dunce when it comes to storage or anything like that - not by class standards, anyway - but there's one thing for certain: form takes priority over function with this model. 

That might be fine by you, or it might not. But against the crucial metrics of performance, comfort, control and safety, the C-HR really is a superb offering, albeit one that won't necessarily fit with everybody's lifestyles. Hey, there's a Corolla, Camry, or RAV4 for that.

You still get back seat that is easily large enough for two adults, and if you do have littlies there are dual ISOFIX points (and three top-tether hooks) - you might not like being back there, though, because the roof and window lines make it feel really hemmed in. 

It lacks some of the storage smarts of the HR-V, with no map pockets in the back and limited loose item storage up front, but there are bottle holders in the doors and a pair cupholders in between the front seats. The boot is 377 litres, close to what you'll get in a small hatchback like a VW Golf

Perhaps the most likeable thing about the C-HR is the way it drives. Its 1.2-litre turbocharged engine may have modest outputs of 85kW/185Nm, but it hustles along nicely, and it has the best steering and suspension tune we can remember for any Toyota for a long, long time. It is comfortable over bumpy city streets, settled on the highway, and can deal with corners easily, too, should that be what you plan to do.

The C-HR Koba AWDs 1.2-litre four cylinder turbo develops a modest 85kW and still more modest 185Nm. (image credit: Max Klamus) The C-HR Koba AWDs 1.2-litre four cylinder turbo develops a modest 85kW and still more modest 185Nm. (image credit: Max Klamus)

The base model C-HR is paired to a CVT auto ($29,5400) that drives the front wheels, while the AWD version lists at $31,540.

The more style-focused Koba model is $33,940 in FWD and $35,940 with AWD.

Toyota has even introduced a new hybrid version of the front-drive C-HR Koba for those worried about fuel consumption, which can be had for $36,440 and teams an electric motor with a 1.8-litre petrol engine.

No matter which C-HR you go for, though, there is decent equipment on offer - a reversing camera, a comprehensive safety tech suite including AEB, adaptive cruise control (auto only), lane departure warning with steering assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and it has seven airbags and a five-star ANCAP crash test score.

List price: from $29,540
Fuel Consumption: 4.3-6.5L/100km
CO2: 97-148g/km
Fuel Tank: 50 litres 
ANCAP: 5 star
Seats: 5
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited
Service Interval: 12-month/15,000km
Engine size: 1.2-litre / 1.8-litre hybrid
Cylinders: Four turbo
Fuel Type: Petrol
kW: 85kW / 90kW
Torque: 185Nm / 163Nm
Transmission: CVT automatic FWD&AWD
Spare: Space-saver
Length: 4360mm
Width: 1795mm
Height: 1565mm

Toyota C-HR

Toyota C-HR
3.8
From
$29,540
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

03. Honda HR-V

2017 Honda HR-V VTi-L

When you think of the term 'SUV', you probably, quite rightfully, think of it as a byword for practicality - and the Honda HR-V is without doubt the most pragmatic option out there in the class. Others take the high-riding hatchback tack, but the HR-V is more thoughtful, more family-oriented than anything it competes with - and a lot of SUVs in the next size bracket up.

Being derived from the equally brilliant little Jazz city car, the HR-V has Honda's excellent 'Magic Seats' which will allow you to store anything from pot-plants to push-bikes, or you can just use the back seat for its intended purpose. It offers great legroom, and easily enough headroom for smaller people - taller ones might need to re-do their hair when they reach their destination.

The boot is a handy 437 litres, well and truly large enough for a couple of suitcases or a pram and all the little bub accouterments that go with it. The parcel shelf - well, it's more like a removable mesh blind - is not much chop. But, being a Honda, there are cupholders and storage options aplenty, and if you do have little ones, there are dual ISOFIX points in the rear, as well as three top-tether hooks.

2017 Honda HR-V VTi-L. 2017 Honda HR-V VTi-L.

With pricing starting from $24,990 for the base grade VTi through to $34,590 for the bells-and-whistles VTi-L, there is something for everyone in the HR-V range. Standard inclusions range-wide include a touchscreen media system but lacks integrated sat nav and doesn't have the option of mirroring your phone's maps by way of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, either.

You've got to go for the budget-breaking VTi-L+ADAS version if you want the added peace of mind of auto emergency braking (AEB) and other active safety tech, but all HR-Vs have a reversing camera and Honda's 'LaneWatch' left-lane camera, which can show you what's in your blind spot. It has a five-star ANCAP rating, too.

No matter which version of the HR-V you go for, it'll be powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 105kW/172Nm. It has a continuously variable transmission (CVT) auto, and is front-wheel drive only. It's an honest drivetrain, absolutely fine for urban commuting and highway driving if you need to. Just don't think about off-roading in it.

List price: from $24,990
Fuel Consumption: 6.9L/100km
CO2: 160g/km
Fuel Tank: 50 litres 
ANCAP: 5 star
Seats: 5
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited
Service Interval: 12-month/10,000km
Engine size: 1.8-litre
Cylinders: Four
Fuel Type: Petrol
kW: 104kW
Torque: 178Nm
Transmission: CVT automatic FWD
Spare: Space-saver
Length: 4294mm
Width: 1772mm
Height: 1605mm

Honda HR-V

Honda HR-V
3.8
From
$24,990
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

04. Hyundai Venue

The Venue is an SUV that is anything but bland to look at.

If the Kona is too big for you, the Venue might be the right fit. In fact, it forms part of the emerging light-SUV segment. The former's styling cues are clearly adopted by the latter, albeit in a more compact format. This is an SUV that is anything but bland to look at.

That said, the Venue is clearly smaller in size, and if that fact isn't abundantly clear from outside, jump inside and check out the second row. While on the tighter side compared to larger SUVs, it's still surprisingly spacious. Just don't expect much in the way of amenities, as rear air vents and a fold-down armrest with cupholders are notably absent. There are three top-tether and two ISOFIX anchorage point, though, while the boot is relatively competitive, with 355L of cargo capacity on offer.

There's only one engine on offer in the Venue, a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine that exclusively sends drive to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.

The boot is relatively competitive, with 355L of cargo capacity on offer. The boot is relatively competitive, with 355L of cargo capacity on offer.

Three Venue grades are available: entry-level Go ($19,990 before on-road costs), mid-range Active ($21,490) and flagship Elite ($25,490). The former two come with the manual as standard but can be upgraded to the automatic for $2000. The latter only comes with the self-shifter.

Standard equipment in the Venue includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, Bluetooth connectivity, a four-speaker sound system, a 3.5-inch multi-function display and a 12V power outlet. 

The Venue has a lacklustre four-star ANCAP safety rating. Its advanced driver-assist systems extend to camera-based autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection (fully operational from 8-60km/h), lane-keep assist (60-180km/h), cruise control, a manual speed limiter, driver attention warning (up to 180km/h), high-beam assist (30km/h or above), tyre pressure monitoring, hill-start assist and a reversing camera plus six airbags.

List price: from $19,990
Fuel Consumption: 7.0-7.2L/100km 
CO2: 160-165g/km
Fuel Tank: 50 litres 
ANCAP: 5 star
Seats: 5
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited km
Service Interval: 12-month/15,000km
Engine size: 1.6-litre
Cylinders: Four
Fuel Type: Petrol
kW: 90kW
Torque: 151Nm
Transmission: six-speed manual FWD / six-speed automatic FWD
Spare: Space-saver
Length: 4040mm
Width: 1770mm
Height: 1592mm

05. Hyundai Kona

The Hyundai Kona range kicks off with the Active.

One of the most diminutive small SUVs on the market has some of the biggest styling going - but the new Hyundai Kona is more than just a polarising face. It is handsomely equipped from the base model up, and despite being tiny on the outside, it's decently spacious on the inside.

While it can't shrug the two models above for legroom, it does have a good belt-line height, meaning kids will be able to see out of it more easily than some of its competitors. There are dual ISOFIX attachment points and three top-tether hooks, and internal storage is adequate as well, with cupholders up front, bottle holders in the doors, and a flip-down arm-rest in between the back seats. The boot is on the modest side, at 360 litres, but you can still fit in a stroller or some golf clubs. 

There is the choice of two drivetrains for the Kona range - the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic for the front-wheel drive models, and a 1.6-litre turbo four with seven-speed dual-clutch for models with all-wheel drive. And yes, you can get one with AWD for less than $30k, which is pretty enticing.

Alternatively, you can opt for a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine producing 130kW and 265Nm. Alternatively, you can opt for a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine producing 130kW and 265Nm.

On the FWD side of things is the Go at $24,300, the Active at $25,800, the Elite at $30,300 and the Highlander at $36,300, then for those with AWD it starts at the Go at $27,800, Active at $29,300, the Elite at $33,800 and the Highlander at $39,800.

Standard equipment is plentiful for the Kona, with a 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support, LED daytime running lights, dusk-sensing headlights, six airbags, reversing camera, rear park assist and tyre pressure monitoring. 

For the Active model there's a Safety Pack that adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, AEB with pedestrian detection and forward collision warning, driver attention warning and power-folding heated side mirrors. The Kona has a five-star ANCAP crash test score. 

List price: from $24,300
Fuel Consumption: 6.7-7.2L/100km 
CO2: 153-169g/km
Fuel Tank: 50 litres 
ANCAP: 5 star
Seats: 5
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited km
Service Interval: 12-month/15,000km (2.0L) / 12-month/10,000km (1.6L)
Engine size: 2.0-litre or 1.6-litre (turbo)
Cylinders: Four 
Fuel Type: Petrol
kW: 110kW / 130kW
Torque: 180Nm / 265Nm 
Transmission: six-speed auto FWD / seven-speed dual-clutch AWD
Spare: Space-saver
Length: 4165mm
Width: 1800mm
Height: 1565mm

06. Subaru XV

The XV is lovably ugly, which is kind of a Subaru design tradition that hasn't always worked well. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

The Subaru XV is a bit of a stalwart in the small SUV game, having been around for longer than the above three SUVs on this list, combined. Yeah, seriously. And with the second-generation Subaru XV that launched in 2017, the company didn't stray too far from the formula of its predecessor - a small 4WD, essentially.

That meant taking the Impreza hatch, hardening it up, raising it, changing its bumpers and wheels, and adding some extra interior sportiness by way of colourful trims and harder-wearing fabrics. All told, it is a high-riding hatchback, but when the hatchback was all-wheel drive to begin with, there is good reason that the Subaru has seen such sales success.

If you actually plan to tackle some dastardly terrain, the XV is likely going to be your best bet out of the SUVs on this list. It has great ground clearance (220mm), a great AWD system with 'X-Mode' that'll help you deal with dirt/sand/mud/wet, hill-descent control, and good approach and departure angles, too. If all of that sounds like gibberish, don't worry - it's good around town, it's easy to park, and it is a refined highway driver.

The entry-grade 2.0i starts under the budget at $29,240, and comes with goodies like fog lights with integrated Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), a 7.0-inch multimedia screen with reversing camera, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and 17-inch wheels with tyre pressure monitoring.

The XV's interior space is a standout quality, particularly behind the wheel. (image credit: Tim Robson) The XV's interior space is a standout quality, particularly behind the wheel. (image credit: Tim Robson)

The XV range as a whole has a five-star ANCAP score, but you need to spend up to the 2.0i-L ($31,610) for Subaru's excellent 'EyeSight' driver assist with AEB and lane-keeping assist. That version also gets dual-zone climate control, electric folding mirrors with integrated indicators, leather accented trim steering wheel and gear shifter, premium cloth trim and an 8.0-inch touchscreen.

The other models in the range come with more fruit - the 2.0i Premium costs $33,420, and the 2.0i-S ($36,530) adds the 'Vision Assist' pack with blind-spot monitoring, high-beam assist, lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, reverse AEB.

A hybrid version was also introduced priced at $35,580 and share its equipment with the base XV grade, but gains more safety tech such as the EyeSight safety suite.

List price: from $29,240
Fuel consumption: 6.5-7.0L/100km
CO2: 147-159g/km
Fuel Tank: 63 litres 
ANCAP: 5 star
Seats: 5
Warranty: 5yr/unlimited
Service Interval: 12-month/12,500km 
Engine size: 2.0-litre / 2.0-litre hybrid
Cylinders: Four 
Fuel Type: Petrol
kW: 115kW / 122kW
Torque: 196Nm / 262Nm
Transmission: CVT auto AWD
Spare: Space-saver
Length: 4465mm
Width: 1800mm
Height: 1615mm

Subaru XV

Subaru XV
3.6
From
$29,240
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

07. Nissan Qashqai

The Qashqai is well suited to commuters, with effortless driving, good comfort and plenty of space inside.

The vast majority of the Nissan Qashqai range is above $30k, but there are a couple of models that slot in under that price point which could well be the best of the bunch - depending on your intended purpose, that is. If you're a tech junkie, you might need to look elsewhere, as the multimedia on offer in the Qashqai can't match some of its more contemporary rivals. 

The entry-level ST model in the Qashqai range is a front-drive, comfort-focused small SUV, one with the choice of a six-speed manual or CVT auto, and with sharp pricing to boot. The manual kicks off at $27,990, while the auto adds $2000 ($29,990).

It looks bigger than it is, yet still manages a big-for-the-class 430-litre boot, and it has cupholders front and rear. It looks bigger than it is, yet still manages a big-for-the-class 430-litre boot, and it has cupholders front and rear.

The ST versions are powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 106kW/200Nm. The Qashqai is well suited to commuters, with effortless driving, good comfort and plenty of space inside. The back seat has the requisite ISOFIX child-seat anchors, and the storage on offer is good for the size of the car - it looks bigger than it is, yet still manages a big-for-the-class 430-litre boot, and it has cupholders front and rear.

Safety tech includes autonomous emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, and a reversing camera fitted to all models.

List price: from $24,990
Fuel Consumption: 4.9L/100km (diesel), 6.9L/100km (petrol CVT), 7.7L/100km (petrol manual)
CO2: 129g/km (diesel), 159g/km (petrol CVT), 178g/km (petrol manual)
Fuel Tank: 65 litres 
ANCAP: 5 star
Seats: 5
Warranty: 3yr/100,000km
Service Interval: 12-month/10,000km 
Engine size: 1.6-litre (diesel) 2.0-litre (petrol)
Cylinders: Four 
Fuel Type: Diesel or petrol
kW: 96kW (diesel), 106kW (petrol)
Torque: 320Nm (diesel), 200Nm (petrol)
Transmission: CVT auto (diesel and petrol) or six-speed manual (petrol), all FWD
Spare: Space-saver
Length: 4377mm
Width: 1806mm
Height: 1595m