MAZDA CX-3 – from $19,990
The popular Mazda CX-3 has two variants under the $25,000 mark: the entry-level Neo and the 2WD petrol version of the Maxx. They’re each powered by a 109kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that drinks a miserly 6.0L/100kms, and the automatic versions of each also come in under the $25k threshold. It’s essentially a Mazda 2 on stilts so space is at a premium, but a high-end interior design sets it apart from other cheapie compact SUVs.
FORD ECOSPORT – from $20,790
All variants of Ford’s baby soft roader come in under $25,000 except for the range-topping Titanium. It comes with a choice of two engines, with the award-winning 170kW 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine and the dour 140kW 1.5-litre four-cylinder atmo, though the former is only available as a manual.
The pick of the bunch is the mid-spec Ecosport Trend, with the 1.0-litre engine and five-speed manual transmission. It has a few extra features over the base model Ambiente – which only comes with the 1.5-litre motor – including reverse parking sensors, cooling glove box and roof rails for $22,290.
SUZUKI JIMNY SIERRA – $20,990
You can’t accuse the Jimny of being a soft-roader. It’s very capable away from the blacktop thanks to its light weight and proven four-wheel drive mechanicals, though this does compromise on-road comfort and handling. Like its rugged dual-range drivetrain, the 63kW 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is good in the rough stuff but struggles on the highway. The Jimny’s military-inspired exterior is reflected inside with spartan fit out and equipment and it has minimal luggage space should you need to carry more than one passenger. Want an auto? It’ll cost you $2000 extra for the optional four-speed automatic.
SUZUKI VITARA RT-S – $21,990
The Suzuki Vitara is a stylish small SUV for the price, with a well-finished cabin. The entry-level RT-S misses out on the range’s best features including the zippy turbocharged petrol and a strong but frugal turbo-diesel engine –not to mention AWD – but still represents good value.
Climate control air-conditoning, an intuitive infotainment/nav package, daytime running lights, roof rails and electronic traction control are all standard on the RT-S standard. While the 86kW 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in the entry-level RT-S is the least zippy or efficient option, it goes nicely with the five-speed manual gearbox which is $2000 cheaper than the six-speed auto option.
NISSAN JUKE ST – $23,490
The “look at me” Juke has love-or-hate looks and trades on those rather than pretending to be practical SUV. The cheap and cheerful entry-level ST manual is powered by a 1.2-litre turbo and five-speed gearbox, which is much better than the CVT auto version, which comes with a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine and costs $1000 extra. Cruise control and daytime running lights are among the standard features.
HAVAL H2 PREMIUM 2WD – $23,990
The Chinese carmaker’s prices include on-road costs making it extra good value, even if it isn’t quite up to scratch with its Japanese competitors. It comes with a decent 110kW 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol turbo engine that’s pulls it along well but drinks a greedy 8.2L/100kms. The H2’s value comes with the heap of standard features including a sunroof, reversing camera with parking guide lines, 7-inch touchscreen, cruise control, daytime running lights and 18-inch alloys.
HOLDEN TRAX LS - $23,990
Holden’s smallest SUV had its steering and suspension tuned in Australia so it rides firmly but comfortably on country roads and handles better than most of its competitors. It’s not as roomy as some of the others but does come with a decent spread of standard features including cruise control, parking sensors, hill-start assist, hill-descent control and a 7-inch touch screen infotainment display.
The LS comes with a 103kW 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which isn’t quite as good as the 1.4-litre turbo in the range topping LTZ. The above entry price includes a five-speed manual gear box, with the six-speed automatic transmission costing an extra $2200.
RENAULT CAPTUR EXPRESSION TCE90 - $23,990
The only Euro model on the list brings high-style to the baby SUV market. The Renault Clio based Captur has a well-thought out spacious interior with ample leg and head room. The rear seat slides back and forward for passenger convenience and allows the rear cargo area to vary between 377 litres and a class-leading 455 litres.
The entry-level Captur is powered by a tiny 66kW 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine which provides plenty of thrummy goodness as long as you leave the ECO switch off. At this price you get a five-speed manual gearbox, rear view camera and sensors, 7-inch touchscreen, 16-inch allow wheels and the aforementioned sliding rear seats.
HONDA HR-V VTI - $24,990
This athletic-looking small SUV has more passenger and cargo space than most alternatives, thanks in large part to the versatility of its adjustable ‘Magic’ rear seats. It feels smooth and easy to drive, and offers advanced safety features and plenty of standard equipment including cruise control, multi-information display with trip data, brake hold, hill-start assist, electric park brake and daytime running lights. It’s powered by a 105kW 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol mated to a CVT transmission. With the back folded seats up, cargo capacity at the rear is 437 litres, one of the biggest of any small SUV.
MITSUBISHI ASX LS - $24,990
The current generation ASX is one of the oldest models on the market but has undergone a sales renaissance this year thanks to sharp pricing across the range. It has some of the advantages of bigger SUVs including more space, comfortable ride and good handling on country roads. Standard kit includes cruise control, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, climate control and hill-start assist and alloy wheels. The entry-level LS comes with a 110kW 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine coupled to a five-speed manual transmission. If you’re averse to using a clutch the CVT auto will cost an extra $2000.
Australia's cheapest SUVs: 10 crossovers under $25,000
|MAZDA CX-3||from $19,990|
|FORD ECOSPORT||from $20,790|
|SUZUKI JIMNY SIERRA||from $20,990|
|SUZUKI VITARA RT-S||from $21,990|
|NISSAN JUKE ST||from $23,490|
|HAVAL H2 PREMIUM 2WD||from $23,990|
|HOLDEN TRAX LS||from $23,990|
|RENAULT CAPTUR EXPRESSION TCE90||from $23,990|
|HONDA HR-V VTI||from $24,990|
|MITSUBISHI ASX LS||from $24,990|