Just a few years ago, the subcompact crossover segment didn’t even exist and now almost every automaker has introduced or is about to introduce one. Over the last year we’ve received new entries, like the Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade. While the segment may be getting a bit crowded, Mazda may have just introduced one of the best subcompact crossovers you can buy today. The tiny SUV is really that good!
On the outside the CX-3 has a sportier, more muscular exterior than the boxy Renegade. Its bold character lines from Mazda’s Kodo design language even make it look more sporty than the larger CX-5. The long hood, short greenhouse and minimal overhangs make the CX-3 look more like a hatchback than more utilitarian rivals, like the Honda HR-V. That style pays dividends in the styling department, but does cause a few drawbacks to the interior.
Inside the CX-3’s interior looks similar to the rest of the latest Mazdas. The interior feels very upscale with high quality materials, comfortable seats and a pleasing dash design. Red and metallic accents add a nice touch and the suede-like inserts on the Gran Touring model’s seats are also nice. While the front two seats are comfortable and there’s a decent amount of space in the front, rear seat passengers aren’t so lucky. Compared to the Honda HR-V, which manages to have a spacious interior, despite its small footprint, the CX-3’s interior is snug. Taller passengers won’t be happy in the back seat for long and if you need to bring more than an overnight bag or two, you’re going to be out of luck.
The CX-3 is powered by Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.0L four-cylinder that generates 146 horsepower and 146 lb-ft. of torque. The four-cylinder is only available with a six-speed speed automatic and all-wheel drive is optional. The CX-3 does have more power than the HR-V, but the four-cylinder still struggles a bit to get the CX-3 moving. Around town the CX-3 is pretty easy to drive, but with four-passengers and maybe a suitcase or two in the back, the CX-3 will definitely be on the slower side. There is a Sport mode switch, which makes things a bit more fun, but the coarseness of the engine is also more noticeable with the Sport mode on. One benefit of the smaller engine, is the fact that the CX-3 is rated at up to 35 mpg on the highway.
Power issues aside, where the CX-3 really excels is its driving dynamics. The CX-3 is one of the most fun subcompact SUVs to drive! Its steering is nicely weighted and the suspension will let you have a bit of fun when the road gets a little twisty. It could only get better if Mazda offered a manual transmission and maybe a bit more power.
Pricing for the CX-3 starts at $19,960, but tops out at just over $27k for a fully-optioned Grand Touring AWD version. The pricing for the CX-3 isn’t that far off from the larger CX-5 and in some ways actually overlaps it. If you need a bit more space, the CX-5 is the better value, but if you’re looking for a small, fun crossover the CX-3 should be at the top of your list.