2019 Mazda CX-3 – Review and Road Test

2019 Mazda CX-3 – Review and Road Test

Let’s say you want an SUV but you also
don’t want an SUV. Have I got a vehicle for you?! It’s called the Mazda CX-3. In the
popular subcompact SUV segment it is without a doubt the sportiest and least
SUV-like contender. The first wave of sportiness comes from the CX-3’s athletic
sculpted exterior. That sporting character also manifests itself
dynamically with agile handling and tenacious grip, making the Mazda CX-3 a
truly engaging car to drive…SUV. You might expect the CX-3’s superior handling
to be matched by a serious powerhouse under the hood and you would be wrong. Around town, acceleration is fine but the 2-liter four-cylinder engine is tuned
for efficiency. Like its Miata cousin, the CX-3 is a momentum car. Handling gear
changes in all CX-3s is a competent 6-speed automatic with sport and manual
shift modes. Ok, so it might be fun to look at and drive but as you learned
during that regrettable trip to Cabo, good times come at a price. For one, the
CX-3 is not the cushiest subcompact SUV. If you want to justify its slightly firmer ride you better squeeze maximum joy out of every corner. And two, the CX-3’s
tidy dimensions have serious implications for interior space. The rear
quarters are tight, even for a small SUV. I like the pleasing materials and
stylish design and I have enough headroom but my knees are jammed into
the seat back and it doesn’t take much effort to put my head against the front
headrest. Ding. Oh, you’d probably just put in the sound effect wouldn’t you? Up front, life is better. The telescopic steering wheel
doesn’t telescope quiet as much as I want but I can still get a pretty
decently comfortable driving position and passenger space is great, assuming
there’s nobody of significance behind you. The CX-3’s small stature does help urban
dwellers exploit tight parking spots but be warned, narrow side and rear glass
doesn’t make the job any easier. Compared to the CX-3’s 12.4 cubic
foot cargo area nearly every one of its competitors offers more space. In fact, so
does the Mazda3, which provides the same hatchback functionality as the CX 3 for
about the same price but with more space behind both the second and first rows. Interestingly, the CX-3 and Mazda3 each have the same ground clearance, reducing this little guy’s SUV cred to a $1,200 all-wheel drive system that knox 2 mpg
off both city and highway economy. It might lack the space and ruggedness once deemed essential for SUVs but the Mazda CX-3 fights back with features. For right
about $21,000, including destination charges, the base CX-3 Sport trim is
competitively-priced, offering cruise control, Bluetooth, an automatic
collision avoidance braking system that operates under 19 miles per hour, and a
backup camera displayed on a 7-inch touchscreen. At least it’s a touchscreen
until you start driving at which point the touch functionality is locked out
and you have to use this control knob inconveniently located down here. Control
issues aside it’s a fine system but the lack of modern smartphone integration
via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes my heart cry. For a more indulgent CX-3 experience
higher trims and the option sheet can add automatic climate control, leatherette or leather-trimmed seating, a power memory driver seat, LED headlights,
18-inch wheels replacing the base car 16 inchers, a heated steering wheel, steering
wheel mounted paddle shifters, Bose premium audio, embedded navigation, smart key access to accompany the standard push-button start, and a variety of
high-tech driver aids including dynamic cruise control, lane departure warning,
and blind spot monitoring. There’s also an available center armrest that covers
where your drinks go, makes it hard to use this control knob, has a spot to stow
your phone but in this particular car gets a bunch of gunk on it, and when you
put your arm on it it squeaks a lot. How bad do you want to rest your arm? Spec a
truly grand Grand Touring trim and the MSRP settles just shy of $29,000. As for
resale values the CX-3 is projected to perform near the top of a class that
includes the Jeep Renegade, Chevy Trax, Toyota CH-R, and perhaps the Kia Soul. For our money the comparatively roomy, practical, and value-rich Honda HR-V
remains the logical subcompact SUV to beat. But really, if logic drove all our
car buying habits we wouldn’t have a whole category of vehicles that sit
just high enough we can all pretend they’re not hatchbacks. And that’s fine. Humans are naturally emotional creatures. The Mazda cx-3 is not a particularly practical SUV but it does have strong aesthetic and emotional
powers. If you’re going to defy logic you may as well have a little fun in the process.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. You idiots probably have to realize that not every car is made for the same functions and seating you try to show in every car. Maybe, it's designed for college goers or people who don't care about seating etc etc.

  2. In the compact SUV segment, the CX-3 is right up there with the best of them, and for driving experience, sitting at the top!

  3. Great job Mazda! Beautifully executed! Absent of Toyota's inherent genetic cheap interior quality (C-HR) or Honda's mediocre/boring exterior design (HR-V). Like other Mazdas, the CX-3 looks way more expensive than it is!

  4. Nothing to see here 2019 model has improved more than the 2018 it would be a waste to get the 2018 since it is the same as the 2016-2017 models. 2019 improved interior, better ride , improved sound dampers, 2 more hp to engine, center console improved. Nothing reported on the infotainment system if it has been improved since the current is very laggy and buggy and Nav system is not detailed as others in class. CX3 is still worth a look at also among standard features, there is the Smart Brake Support, Mazda Radar Cruise Control . As well, the manufacturer has added a few more options which include power driver’s set with memory, a heated steering wheel, and full-color driving display.

  5. The only way I'd buy one of these is if it sold fully loaded for $22k. Otherwise it ain't worth it.

  6. All the plastic trim automakers put on the U.S. Crossover & SUV models look CHEAP & TACKY, and look like crap after being exposed to the elements for a few years. The Honda HR-V, for example, in other global markets has painted trim/bumpers instead of cheap black plastic, & looks sooooooo much better.

  7. HI, I have a question: I own a Mazda3 here in Colombia where services are recommended to be done every 5000 kilometers (3106 miles) which I think is waay too often! I want to know the maintainance in the United States. I found out in Canada is every 8000 mi which is12874 kilometers and when I made the conversion I was shocked, but I also noticed that the said maintainance is made to canadian driving conditions which made me wonder that check ups in Colombia are more often because of the poor quality of our streets… Anyway too much info for such a little info tip I wanna know. And yes im typing this in all KBB Mazda reviews 🙂

  8. I bought one, I don’t recommend it, it’s only 1 year old and the AC is not working already, I only used for a couple of months last summer, ridiculous. It’s a nice car, but it breaks easy, and let’s
    Not eve talk about the dealership, everytime I go for oil change, they star talking about checking this and that and charge a lot of money. Ohh and also, it’s a new car, why does it need a 1 year service check and it cost more than $100 dollars??? It’s that the value they give to their own car? It’s new but it needs service check in a year for what? To see is it’s already breaking??? If you are in the market looking, CX3 is not the car for you.

  9. Just curious as to which small SUV has more than enough power. I hear all small cars that get great mpg have small engines and no one who owns a porsche brags on its miles per.

  10. so sick of top trims being the one reviewed but at least i know i might as well get a mazda 3 or even better a rogue for practically the same price

  11. What car would you guys recommend for long trips about 2,000 miles average trip?
    Right now I am driving a 2015 Nissan Altima that I love, but breaks my heart when I hit a pothole on a country road. I would like something a few inches higher where I wouldn't fuck up my vehicle that fast.

  12. Looks sharp but my experience was it actually felt smaller than everything else in its class. I'm talking about the cabin feeling cramped and claustrophobic to me. If you sit in either Crosstrek or it's Korean clone the Kona they feel like the CX5 for passenger space. At least that was my impression after back to back test drives. Handling doesn't outshine the Kona 1.6T but for some reason the reviews all say that it's the drivers car. Your milage may vary but that's how it was for me.

  13. Mazda CX-3, a car for when you need AWD but the CX-5 is to big. I love the look of the CX-3 (well all mazdas but the CX-3 stands out) but uhhh mazda3 hatch with a manual is a lot more logical

  14. People would get this over the hatchback because Some people (including me) don’t like how hatch backs look. Even tho they’re more practical

  15. I love Mazda, but the squeaky armrest kills this one dead for me, and I am not kidding. That would annoy the sh!t out of me for the duration. Cannot stand rattles, squeaks and buzzes in cars. I'll put up with them if I have to, but a totally unnecessary one right from new? No way.

  16. The body style funnels dirt and mud onto the hatch door. No other way to open it but to get filthy fingers. Also renders the back up camera useless. Preferred my Subaru's gear ratio. The small tank is always empty. If I sync with my phone, it kills maps audio directions. The emporer has mo clothes! 1st & last Mazda!

  17. I have this car and I absolutely love it. Very sporty looking and fun to drive. I get so many compliments 😊

  18. That thick black plastic lower body cladding (& bumper) looks cheap as hell, & won't endure the elements well at all over time. Toyota is bringing the Mazda2 hatchback that the CX-3 is based on to the USA in 2020 as the new (rebadged) Yaris hatchback. I might give that a try in the top trim level, assuming I can get past the revised (fish face) front styling that Toyota is sure to use to match their rebadged Mazda2 (Yaris) sedan currently being sold. :/

  19. This reviewer is tops. I come to KBB now before motor trend or car & driver. Kudos to the team as well.

  20. The base model with front wheel drive and manual transmission gives good performance with the 146 horsepower engine but the AWD automatic does not.  The much heavier AWD versions need at least 10% more power to compensate for the added weight but that is not an option.  All that is needed is a software upgrade to make the power because this same drivetrain produces 10% more power in other Mazda models.   Sadly, Mazda has not done this even though AWD CX-3 owners have been complaining about the lack of power for years.

  21. This car is not worth it. Its interior is smaller and more uncomfortable in the back than the hatchback and even has less space in the trunk. The only positive thing about this car is a more elevated point of view, but it's not worth the drawbacks

  22. The problem is that the CX-3 is not based off of the Mazda3 but rather it's based of the smaller Mazda2 which is why the CX-3 is so cramped for space. Once Mazda decides to redesign the CX-3 off of the roomier Mazda3 (instead of off the Mazda2) then it will be worth considering but until then, it's just too cramped to serve the practicality function that should be associated with the category that it's slotted in. I will definitely consider it once it does switch to the Mazda3 chassis.

  23. Worthy to note my insurance quotes for different cars:
    Ford Mustang GT = $230.00 / month
    Ford Mustang Ecoboost = $230.00 / month
    Honda Civic Sedan = $195.00 / month
    Mazda Hatch = $195.00 / month
    Mazda CX-3 = $100.00 / month

    I also spend 5 days a week getting stuck in hours-long traffic. In the end, baby SUV and low insurance captured my heart!

  24. I'm not sure if this is 2019. 2019 doesn't have the maroon trimming or 2-toned seats. It has all leather seats.

  25. Seems to me you are not driving the 2019, it's a 2018, Dead giveaway is the front grill. Count the bars there are 7, In 2019 there are 8. I believe I may be correct.

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