The small SUV segment is getting crowded with several practical options for buyers that want a small SUV to get around town. Up until now most of them have focused more on practicality, versatility and value, while leaving style and luxury off the table. Well fortunately that’s where the 2021 Mazda CX-30 comes in.
The Mazda CX-30 competes with popular small SUVs, like the Honda HR-V, Nissan Rogue Sport, Subaru Crosstrek and Toyota C-HR. None of those models have quite the upscale feel that the CX-30 offers. Mazda’s Kodo design language gives the CX-30 a sculpted exterior that looks classier than its budget-minded rivals.
The same upscale feel is in the interior as well with a stylish interior that is wrapped in high quality materials. You will have a hard time finding any hard plastic in here, while some areas of the interior are also wrapped in leather or vinyl to create a pleasant interior. While the interior does get major styling points, there is one area that the CX-30 does suffer – interior space.
The front area easily fits adults, but the second row is not very spacious. Fitting two of your friends in the back will probably be fine, but trying to fit a third will be a tight squeeze. Cargo space is also not plentiful, with 20.2 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up, which expands to 45.2 cubic feet with them folded. The HR-V has a maximum 57.6 cubic feet, while the Rogue Sport has 53.3.
All CX-30 models get a Mazda Connect infotainment system with an 8.8-inch display. Sadly it’s not a touchscreen, which means that you have to use a large knob in the center console to use it. As you’d expect the infotainment system is not easy to use, especially when you’re trying to enter in an address in the navigation system. Fortunately Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is there to make the system a little better.
On the safety front the CX-30 comes standard with adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist. The top Premium trim level also gets a head-up display, traffic sign recognition and all but the base S trim level get a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.
For the 2021 model year the CX-30 offers two engine options. The standard engine is a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder with 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, that’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. For buyers that want more power, there’s the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that generates 227 hp and 310 lb-ft on 87 octane gas or 250 hp and 320 lb-ft. if you give it 93 octane gas. The turbocharged engine is also mated to a six-speed automatic.
The naturally aspirated engine is rated at 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 24/31/26 mpg with all-wheel drive. The CX-30 Turbo is only available with all-wheel drive and is rated at 22/30/25 mpg.
For this test, we spent time with the standard engine, stay tuned for our review of the CX-30 Turbo. The CX-30’s non-turbo engine has more power than the HR-V, Rogue Sport and the base engine in the Crosstrek. Although it does have 186 hp, accelerating is a bit underwhelming. We can easily call the base engine sluggish and you have to push it hard if you want a sportier driving experience. There is a Sport mode that tweaks the throttle and transmission a bit, but it’s not dramatically different in either driving mode. This is why the CX-30 Turbo was added…
As we expect from all Mazdas, the suspension is perfectly tuned to find the balance between comfort and sport. Around town the CX-30 is comfortable, but when you want to hit the curves on backroads, the CX-30 is game. The steering is a bit light, but it is quick to respond. If you put the powertrain, suspension and steering all together, you will see that the CX-30 feels like its a class above the HR-V, Rogue Sport, Crosstrek or C-HR.
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 is offered in S, Select, Preferred, Premium and Premium Plus trim levels. The pricing starts at $23,225. If you want the more powerful CX-30 Turbo, it starts at $31,225.
At the end of the day the Mazda CX-30 is a clear winner in the small SUV segment. It looks classy, is fun to drive and its interior feels more luxurious than its rivals.