Best small 2wd SUV under $35,000 - Mazda CX-3 Maxx

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This is the new boom vehicle class, and among a plethora of new models Mazda CX-3 Maxx has taken the ABC award by quite a margin. It was consistently strong across nearly every judging criterion with class-leading scores for depreciation, performance and handling and equal class-leading scores for environment, seating comfort, ergonomics, build and finish, braking and smoothness and quietness.

The 2.0L petrol engine is a strong and willing performer but not at the expense of fuel economy, where its 6.1L/100km is more than 10% better than the other finalists.

While CX-3 rides compliantly, it can become a little brittle over bumps, but it outpoints the others for handling with impressive turn-in, balance and grip levels.

Comfort matches considerable style in the interior where occupants will find soft yet supportive seats and a modern, functional dash in front of them. And there is plenty of travel in the driver’s seat slide adjustment to provide generous leg room.

Judges’ Choice. The CX-3 was the vehicle the judges decided had the most impact on the market in the past year, with great scores all round and an excellent drive experience.