Highlight: The front seat armrest offers a slide in storage slot for smartphones, an industry first.
Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $29,690 (base model $19,960)
Seating Capacity: (Five according to Mazda) Four and squeezing it (realistically)
Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; a rearview camera; daytime running lights; hill launch assist; electronic brake force distribution; a stability control system; and a tire pressure monitoring system
Standard Equipment (Base Sport model): 16-inch wheels; a 7-inch infotainment screen; a push-button keyless ignition starter; a remote keyless entry system; a tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a/c; cruise control; and cloth manually operated seats
Standard Equipment (Grand Touring Model): 18-inch wheels; a Bose 7-speaker audio system with HD radio; a satellite radio system; a power moonroof; a remote keyless entry system; a remote illuminated entry system; a tonneau privacy cover; steering wheel paddle shifters; LED daytime headlights; LED front fog lights; adaptive front headlights; a blind spot lane changing system; a cross-traffic alert system (for backing up); leather interior; an automatic climate control system; and a navigation system
a radar-activated cruise control system; a smart city brake support system; rain sensing wipers; a lane departure warning system; automatic headlights; and a high beam automatic headlights
Other Trim Level:
Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD
Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes
USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder/148-hp
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Standard Fuel Mileage: 27-city/32-hwy (all-wheel drive)
What’s New: Mazda joins the fast growing subcompact crossover segment, with a sporty all-new CX-3.
Why: Mazda’s striking, groundbreaking subcompact crossover has an upscale, athletic design that is sure to appeal to both men and women alike. The all-new CX-3 is available in a front-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive configuration.
Using Mazda’s new design theme, the CX-3 can easily be mistaken for a premium class vehicle – both inside and out - due to its prominent upscale grille and Mercedes-Benz-like interior theme. Yes, from the stand-alone infotainment screen to the optional Heads Up display system to the high-quality feel and look of the interior, Mazda did a great job of mimicking Mercedes-Benz interiors. In fact, Mazda uses a rotary dial system that controls everything from the audio system to the volume to the navigation system.
Mazda’s easy-to-maneuver CX-3 offers a number of unprecedented advanced safety driving features that literally places the compact crossover in a different league. Some of those features, which were only available on the higher level Grand Touring trim consisted of an automatic forward collision braking system to automatic high beams to a blind spot monitoring system to a radar-activated cruise control system to a smart braking system designed for driving at lower speeds. Yes, this compact crossover is the closes thing one can think of to autonomous driving.
So, not only is the CX-3 available in a variety of trim levels, the ride quality of this cozy compact is beyond reproach, with its independent front McPherson strut suspension and it torsion beam rear suspension system.
The Mazda CX-3 proves that this subcompact is ready to move into a new league, competing against the likes of such near luxury brands as Acura and Volvo. The CX-3 definitely separates itself from such mainstream brands as Honda, Toyota, Chevy, Nissan and Ford
But: There are some shortcomings with this subcompact crossover, no pun intended. First, the innovative adjustable center armrest, with room to slide in a smartphone, seems somewhat flimsy. The armrest is only available on the higher level trims. Over time it seems as though the armrest can be broken. We’re also surprised that the armrest doesn’t include a covered storage compartment.
Next, with the CX-3 offering the latest autonomous driving features, the interior design team came up short as it relates to offering such basic features as a lighted visor vanity mirrors.
Added to that, this subcompact crossover doesn’t leave much room for rear occupants. In comparison to the competition, the vehicle comes up short on legroom and the ability to seat three adults in the rear. At best, the rear can squeeze in two for a short drive.
And lastly, we would like the CX-3 powertrain team to add a 200-horsepower turbo engine to mix. This will heighten the fun factor in this upscale subcompact crossover, which offers a number premium features.
Verdict: The Japanese automaker has been able to do what its mainstream competitors haven’t, offering a well-built, upscale subcompact crossover, with the latest advanced safety driving features at an affordable price. The CX-3 is the perfect alternative to such upscale entry-level crossovers like the Mercedes-Benz GLA model, which looks similar to the Mazda.
Competition: Chevrolet Trax, Buick Encore, Fiat 500X, MINI Cooper Clubman, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke and Toyota RAV4