Feature article

Best SUVs of 2023 and 2024

The SUV comes in all shapes and sizes now, popular with buyers for its practicalities and general ease of use.

Last updated: 20 December 2023

There are options for those looking to go electric along with model line-ups which include a hybrid option if fuel savings are on the agenda too. Here are some of the best SUVs that arrived in New Zealand in 2023.

Nissan Qashqai


Nissan’s latest Qashqai is a little larger, more replete with features and looks sharper. There are a range of Qashqai options in New Zealand starting at $45,990, and there is a hybrid version too. The new model steps up the quality quotient while laying on a heap of extras not previously offered.

With its raised ride height, entry is still tops and, once in, the seat comfort’s good.

Hop in the back and with the increase in dimensions there’s a bit more room for a pair of adults while the kids will fit just fine and there’s Isofix for the halflings.

The boot space improves too, being more generous than in previous models.

The Qashqai does its best work in the city. The steering is quick and light, and turnarounds are easily executed. There’s sound outward vision, good side mirrors and a great parking camera. The Pro Pilot driver aids are nicely calibrated and simple to use. As to fuel use, it’s rated at 6.8L/100km though that’s more likely to be your highway cruising number, with urban running using around 8 to 9L/100km. The hybrid returns around 6L/100km.

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For all the Qashqai specs, click here



Honda ZR-V

Honda introduced a new SUV on the New Zealand market this year in the ZR-V.

It’s what you’d call a mid-size SUV, with similar dimensions to the CX-5 and RAV4. There are two variants, one called the Turbo with a 1.5T engine and a $47,000 price tag, and the other is the Sport, a petrol electric hybrid priced at $55,000.

The ZR-V has a quality cabin, with mood lighting and alloy details while the harder plastics are used sparingly. The infotainment is of the no-frills variety but is well sited on the dash top and sat nav is included along with (wired) CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

There’s plenty of territory for those in the back and the flat floor gives equal leg room for three kids, reducing hostilities. The seats fold in a straightforward manner, the squab descending as the seat back folds so you get a flat area when you expand the boot.

The hybrid provides a smooth drive. There’s abundant pull from down low thanks to 315Nm of torque. Consumption is stated at 5.5L/100km while we managed 6.3L/100km over our week driving it.

The steering is well weighted and quick, the turning circle city friendly and the surround view camera makes parking easy. This has all the usual active safety features too. The ZR-V is a practical, well outfitted SUV (in terms of both quality and spec) that’s just easy to live with.

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For all the Qashqai specs, click here



Subaru Crosstrek

The Crosstrek is Suabru’s latest compact SUV for NZ. The model range spans the $47k – $52k price range and includes a hybrid option.

For the Premium models Subaru hasn’t left much off the spec list, ramming plenty into the small SUV. New is a big 11.6-inch vertical infotainment touchscreen and there is a wireless charge pad, USB-C connections, a smart key, wireless Apple CarPlay and AA, leather trim, sat nav, sunroof and an upgraded sound system. There’s an abundance of safety kit too, the updated Eyesight crash mitigation system coming with a long list of functions.


While the Crosstrek’s 220mm of ground clearance helps it go further off-road, the main benefit for 99 per cent of buyers is a slightly easier exit and entry as it also facilitates a higher seating position. The Crosstrek delivers a smooth ride at all speeds and over all sorts of New Zealand roads. It has an affable chassis balance which helps Crosstrek flow through the bends while it’s an easy drive round town.

Being a compact SUV, it’s not quite ‘family-sized’, so go for the Forester if you need extra room. It’s better suited for those whose dependents are now less dependent but they will still fit in the back when they need the occasional lift.

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For all the Qashqai specs, click here



Mazda CX-60

Mazda’s new CX-60 SUV is a convincing alternative to some European premium contenders. There are four CX-60 models, three of those being plug-in hybrids, with pricing that starts at $74,965.

The plug-in, with a total of 241kW and 500Nm is effortlessly quick but can also offer up to 63km running on electric power alone. Its overall combined fuel use figure is 2.3L/100km, though it all depends on how far you travel between charges.

The CX-60 is well styled and the interior is equally appealing, finished in plush black leather with lots of quality soft touch plastics. In the back it’s also comfy, with heated leather seats and a couple of USB-C connectors for device charging. There’s good all-round room here and a well shaped boot.

Price wise, the CX-60 sits in the middle ground of available plug-in SUVs but you’d need to spend in the region of $110k-$115k for more comparable Euros. At $87,990 with five years of warranty and free servicing, and eight years of battery back-up, this Mazda CX-60 PHEV will have the Euro opposition scratching its heads.

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For all the CX-60 specs, click here



Volkswagen ID.4

For those after an electric SUV, the VW ID.4 is a good place to start.

This rear drive SUV gets 150kW and 310Nm for easy motoring, and the 82kWh battery. It has a max AC charge rate of 11kW and up to 125kW at a DC fast charger. We didn’t need to recharge during our week with it. We covered 200km, using just over half the battery, which showed it had 240km left to run. So an urban/motorway range of 440km seems about right.

The ID.4 is about the same size as a Tiguan, but offers more interior space for passengers and this EV can tow up to 1000kg. You can also get a swisher looking ID.5 with a sloping roof for a coupe-like profile and it gets a sportier suspension tune.


Both the exterior and the cabin wear an electric-centric design, the body smooth and grille-less, while inside there is an airy feel. There is connectivity for smartphones, an ample supply of USB-C ports and a charge pad.

It’s an easy thing to board, the seat height just right. And that goes for rear passengers as well.

They’ve made it easy to drive. The steering is quick and breezy and there’s a great 10.2m turning circle along with a reasonable 360-degree camera.

The ID rides reasonably well both in and out of town and it’s hushed enough on coarse chip at 100km/h.

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For all the ID.4 specs, click here



Kyle Cassidy
Kyle Cassidy
Editor NZ Autocar magazine - autocar.co.nz

Kyle has been reviewing cars since starting at NZ Autocar magazine in 2003 and has been editor since 2009. In that time he’s become an expert on what makes for a good vehicle while also gaining insights into the local automotive industry.