Mazda’s CX-3, this automaker’s entry in the hot compact crossover SUV segment, aims to provide the style and functionality of a crossover SUV at a price approachable to a great many buyers, beginning at just $19,960. Sporting the unique front grill and fascia that speak the brand’s latest design language, the CX-3 shares its platform and much of its cabin with the 2016 Mazda 2 subcompact hatchback. While both ride on a 101.2 inch wheelbase, the CX-3 is slightly larger in all dimensions than the 2 in keeping with its small SUV mission of optimizing versatility and carrying five people plus cargo.
The CX-3 is comfortable, capable, and responsive, getting its power from a 146 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Its SKYACTIV-G engine uses direct injection, variable valve timing, and a high 13:1 compression ratio to eke the most power out of its engine displacement, along the way producing satisfying low-to-mid-range torque and lower emissions while consuming less fuel. The engine connects to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trim levels are available, each with standard front-wheel-drive or optional i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive. Mazda’s predictive all-wheel drive system optimizes performance and stability by taking many real-time factors into account like road conditions, steering-angle, temperature, and weather as it intelligently routes power to specific wheels in response to these conditions.
The Mazda CX-3 is available with an array of electronics features including a rearview camera, Smart Brake Support with Collision Warning, adaptive headlights, and headlight control. Mazda Connect comes standard, offering a seven-inch color touchscreen infotainment suite with Bluetooth audio streaming, phone controls, and internet radio like Pandora and Aha by Harmon, all integrated with a commander control knob. Pushbutton start is also standard.
Available as options or with the Touring and Grand Touring trim levels are navigation, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, head-up display, Bose premium audio with SiriusXM satellite and HD radio, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and LED headlights. When equipped with the Grand Touring i-ACTIVSENSE package, CX-3 packs features unavailable in rival vehicles like Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Smart City Brake Support, High Beam Control System, Lane Departure Warning System, rain-sensing wipers, and auto on/off headlights.
As one would expect with Mazda’s efficient and sprightly SKYACTIV-equipped new models, the CX-3 achieves a welcome 29 city mpg and 35 mpg in the front-wheel drive version, with the AWD model sacrificing just a bit of efficiency with 27/32 mpg numbers. Importantly, unlike most engines with high compression that require high octane fuel, the 2.0-liter SKYACTIV powerplant is designed to run on less expensive regular gas, offering fuel savings that adds up over time.