Compact SUVs are among the most popular vehicles on sale, and there are several great models to choose from. The smaller family haulers offer several benefits over their midsize and full-size counterparts, including easier maneuverability, better fuel economy, and lower prices. At the same time, there are so many choices with so many great options that it can be tough to decide which one is best for you. This is especially tough when judging an SUV’s interior quality, as the number of options and features is overwhelming.
We’ve done the homework for you and have compiled a list of compact SUVs with the best interior for 2023. These vehicles made our list with excellent quality materials, good space, generous features, and a quiet experience. We noted many standard and available features, but it’s a good idea to research the specific trim level you want to make sure it’s got the right feature set for your needs.
The compact SUVs with the best interiors for 2023
2023 Mazda CX-5
The CX-5 embodies Mazda’s ambitions to build upscale, fun-to-drive vehicles. Its interior is supremely comfortable and punches well above its weight class on quality and design. The base cloth upholstery feels nice and remains comfortable for long drives, and the leather upholstery seen in higher trims rivals the quality in many premium brands. The tradeoff is that the CX-5’s interior isn’t the most spacious, especially for taller adults. Dark interior colors can also make the SUV’s passenger space feel cave-like, but Mazda offers lighter upholstery colors that make the interior feel much larger.
Mazda equips a 10.2-inch infotainment screen with a rotary controller instead of a touchscreen. The setup takes some getting used to but can be more intuitive with time, as it does not require the driver to take their eyes off the road. The downside comes when scrolling through long lists of songs or podcasts, as the dial takes longer to navigate than a few swipes. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, along with USB inputs, Bluetooth, HD radio, and more.
2023 Hyundai Tucson
The Tucson got a full overhaul for 2022, so there are no changes for 2023. That’s fine because the SUV Hyundai released last year is still a compelling option in its class, and its interior is above average with features and quality. The five-seat Tucson comes standard with cloth, and higher trims get soft leather upholstery with upgrades like heating and ventilation. Tall people can ride comfortably in both rows, and the back offers solid headroom. Front-seat passengers enjoy deep, supportive buckets with good padding, and outward visibility in the front is excellent.
The Tucson comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen running Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bluetooth, HD radio, SiriusXM radio, and USB inputs are also standard. Higher trims bring a 10.2-inch touchscreen and a 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster.
2023 Honda CR-V
The CR-V is all-new for 2023, which includes a fantastic new interior. Honda brought the CR-V’s styling more in line with changes made to the Civic and HR-V, and inside, that means a more upscale cabin with nicer finishes and cleaner design. The air vents are concealed behind a metal grate, and the cabin has nice metal and plastic accents in higher trims. There’s good space in the front, and the seats remain comfortable on longer drives. Second-row passengers don’t enjoy the same degree of comfort, but the bench is reasonably well-padded.
Standard tech includes a seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB inputs, and a digital gauge cluster. Honda offers a larger nine-inch display in higher trims, bringing wireless smartphone connectivity. Other available tech includes additional USB ports in the rear, dual-zone climate controls, wireless charging, and SiriusXM radio.
2023 Mazda CX-50
The brand-new CX-50 blends sportier exterior styling with a premium interior and an available turbocharged engine. As with other Mazdas, the CX-50 is engaging to drive and comes packed with nice features inside. Even the base cloth upholstery feels expensive, and the front seats offer great space for adults. Higher trims add nice leather with contrast stitching and heating/ventilation, depending on the model.
Mazda equips an 8.8-inch non-touch infotainment system as standard and offers a 10.25-inch system. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, along with Bluetooth, USB inputs, eight speakers, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and more.
2023 Nissan Rogue
The Rogue is one of Nissan’s best-selling vehicles, offering great fuel economy, a smooth ride, and a spacious interior. Higher trims feel downright luxurious, but even the less expensive models are more accommodating than their rivals. The SUV offers fantastically comfortable front seats, and there’s good space for tall adults in both rows. Cloth comes standard, but synthetic and genuine leathers are available.
The Rogue comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen, but buyers can get a nine-inch unit in higher trims. Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come by default, and the larger display brings wireless connectivity. Other standard tech includes SiriusXM radio, four speakers, two USB ports, and Bluetooth. A Bose stereo, dual-zone climate controls, and a digital gauge cluster are available.
2023 Kia Sportage
Kia redesigned the Sportage for 2023, giving it a load of new tech and a cabin redesign, making it one of the most comfortable SUVs in its class. It offers great space in both rows and the back seats recline and slide to let passengers dial in the most comfortable position. Kia equipped nicer materials than expected, and higher trims get upscale features like heated and ventilated front seats.
Tech includes an eight-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a configurable digital gauge cluster, six speakers, USB inputs, and more. The Sportage is available with a 12.3-inch touchscreen, but the larger display only offers wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto instead of the wireless connection with the smaller unit. A Harman Kardon eight-speaker premium audio system is also available.
How we rate interior quality
There are so many variables that go into evaluating vehicle interior quality, but we focus on a handful of the most important aspects:
- Materials and design: We evaluate materials quality and look at how many cheap plastics the automakers use in the cabin. Design also matters, as we score interiors on their visual appeal.
- Space: Despite being small, compact SUVs still need to offer usable space for passengers and gear.
- Technology: Screen size, overall ease of use, and features all play a role in this score.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE COMPACT SUVS WITH THE BEST INTERIORS FOR 2023
What are LATCH connectors for car seats?
LATCH, or Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, gives you an easy, secure way to secure a car seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates vehicles on the ease of installation. It offers notes on certain aspects of the installation, including if the anchors were too deep in the seat or hard to access.
What about used compact SUVs? Which ones have good interiors?
Many of the new models you see on this list also translate to the used market, though some have been recently redesigned with new tech and features. The Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, and Volkswagen Tiguan are great places to start.
Are subcompact SUVs smaller than compact SUVs?
Yes, the subcompact class contains vehicles like the Nissan Kicks, Toyota C-HR, Honda HR-V, and Volkswagen Taos. While spacious enough for some, many families will find a crunch for space in the subcompact class.
Are compact SUVs safe?
Compact SUVs are among the most popular vehicles on the road, so they get the best and latest safety tech to help them compete. Many earn Top Safety Pick awards from the IIHS, including the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-50, and Nissan Rogue.
Why are so many SUV interiors black?
Automakers make black interiors because they are less expensive to produce and don’t show dirt or wear as easily as lighter colors. If you’ve got a family, a dark interior gives you the peace of mind that a few juice spills or other challenges won’t ruin your gorgeous light interior.
What 2024 compact SUVs should I know about?
The 2024 Kia Celtos got a facelift and interior refresh that gave it striking style and a plus cabin. The Mazda CX-30 received a new trim level for 2024, and its upscale interior is supremely comfortable, though a bit tight. Though it didn’t make this list, the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek’s cabin is lightyears better than it was for 2023.