IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
With its peppy engine, sleek styling, and agile driving personality, the CX-3 is among the sportiest of the current batch of subcompact SUVs—and its fuel economy and interior quality are also among the best in the class.
Swoopy styling is prioritized over passenger space and cargo room, and some infotainment functions are more complicated than they should be.
The line-topping Grand Touring model includes a novel, unusual-for-the-class feature: a head-up instrument display that powers up out of the top of the dashboard.
WHAT IS IT?
The CX-3 is Mazda’s subcompact SUV; it slots below the compact CX-5 SUV in Mazda’s lineup. The sole powertrain is a 146-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Trim levels ascend through base Sport, midline Touring, and top-dog Grand Touring models, all of which are available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Available features include keyless entry and starting, heated front seats, adaptive LED headlights, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and 18-inch wheels in place of 16s. A GT Premium Package for Grand Touring models includes adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, a forward-collision mitigation system, and (new for 2018) a heated steering wheel and 2-position driver-seat memory.
All CX-3s gain Smart City Brake Support, a low-speed collision mitigation system that can automatically apply the brakes in emergency situations below 19 mph. All-wheel-drive models get Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control, a technology feature that varies engine torque in response to steering inputs to improve steering feel and handling. Mazda says the CX-3’s chassis and steering have been revised for better handling and ride quality, and additional noise-suppression measures have been implemented for a quieter ride.
The EPA rates the CX-3 at 29 mpg city/34 mpg highway with front-wheel drive and 27/32 with all-wheel drive. In Consumer Guide® testing, an all-wheel-drive Touring averaged 30.4 mpg in a test that included 65-percent highway driving. An AWD Grand Touring averaged 27.7 mpg in 60-percent city driving, and another AWD Grand Touring averaged 31.1 mpg in 80-percent highway driving.
VALUE IN CLASS
The CX-3 seems tailor-made for subcompact-segment shoppers who crave the vigor and style of a sports car or sporty hatchback but also want great fuel economy and the raised ride height, all-wheel-drive availability, and all-around versatility of a subcompact SUV. Though most of the CX-3’s competitors offer better interior volume within their similarly diminutive bodies, few can match this little Mazda’s blend of fuel economy, style, and driving fun.