One year removed from its debut, the 2017 Mazda CX-3 has a solid footing in the subcompact crossover utility vehicle segment. Some may consider the CX-3 a tall hatchback, given its relatively modest ground clearance. This model is versatile, handles well, and is fuel efficient. It is also nearly the same size as the Mazda 2, a model you can no longer get in the US.
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2017 Mazda CX-3 Overview
What's New for 2017
Following its much-anticipated debut last year, the 2017 CX-3 features modest updates. Importantly, Mazda has held the line on its base price.
The CX-3’s 18-inch alloy wheels found in the Grand Touring edition are now standard in the Touring model. The other change of note is a sharp reduction in the price of the available Mazda i-ACTIVESENSE package of safety technologies in the Grand Touring edition—it's $750 cheaper this year.
Choosing Your Mazda CX-3
Mazda offers the 2017 CX-3 in three trim levels: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available for this five-passenger model.
Every 2017 CX-3 is powered by a 2-liter four-cylinder engine making 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. This engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode and sport mode.
The EPA rates the front-wheel drive model at 29 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel drive model is rated at 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
Mechanically, all three trim levels are alike. Therefore, the Sport trim is a sensible place to begin shopping. Add $1,250 to obtain all-wheel drive.
2017 Mazda CX-3 Review
The 2010s have ushered in the era of the subcompact crossover. Mazda took the dive into this segment in 2016 with the tiny, Mazda2-based CX-3. This small people hauler combines the soft-road capabilities of most crossovers with the nimbleness and fuel economy of a subcompact.
Does the CX-3 combine these traits well, or is it just a jacked-up small hatchback?
Pricing and Equipment
One of the biggest draws of this segment is pricing. These tiny crossovers typically offer most of the capabilities that crossover shoppers want at a price that makes their bank accounts smile. The CX-3 fits at least the budgetary part of the equation with a starting price of $20,860 (delivery fees included).
In this base Sport trim, the CX-3 comes standard with:
- 16-inch aluminum wheels
- Power mirrors
- Keyless ignition
- Six-speaker audio system
- 7-inch touchscreen
- Rearview camera
For buyers looking for added features, there is also the better-equipped Touring and Grand Touring trims, which start at $22,860 and $25,890, respectively. On the Touring trim, buyers can also add the Premium Package ($1,248), which includes an upgraded sound system with satellite radio, a sunroof, and a cargo cover.
While it is not overly powerful with just 146 horsepower, we found the CX-3 to be an eager participant in spirited driving. The engine is more than happy to rev to its redline and the optional all-wheel-drive system make fine adjustments while driving to make up for lost traction.
- Low 2,809-pound curb weight makes it nimble
- Engine is eager to please the driver with more revs
- Cruising is unexpectedly quiet at 70 mph
- Surprisingly precise all-wheel-drive system
While it is lightweight and nimble, the CX-3 isn't fast. It's powerful enough for commuting, but lacks the true zoom-zoom attitude of some Mazdas.
- Engine doesn’t sound overly sporty
- Lacks the true zoom-zoom personality
- Paddle shifters are only available on the Grand Touring trim
The cabin is set up much like the Mazda3, giving this small hatchback a sporty look and feel. What’s more, the front seats are plenty roomy and cargo room is decent for a tiny crossover.
- Comfortable and spacious front seats make it a great commuter crossover
- Mazda3-like styling exudes a sportier personality
- Up to 44.5 cubic feet of cargo room is plenty for most
- Plenty of features as you move through the trims and options
The front seats are great, but the back is a totally different story. Legroom is tight, and sporty roofline doesn't leave much space for heads.
- Only 35 inches of rear legroom
- 12.4 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats up is a little tight
- Roofline makes the back seats intolerable for taller teens and adults
The Most Pleasant Surprise
As a commuter car, the CX-3 is quite pleasant. It's efficient, highly maneuverable in traffic, and comfy in front. All of this, combined with the number of features available, make it a great daily driver.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Outside of the front seats, the CX-3 is far from roomy. The dinky rear quarters make it a tough buy for a growing family, and cargo space is limited with the seats up.
The Bottom Line
When considering a subcompact crossover, there are plenty of compromises to make. And the CX-3 is a prime example of these compromises. Sure, it’s zippy, fuel efficient, and the front seats are roomy, but you are giving up big-time space behind the front seats. The CX-3 is a great fit for couples without kids, but once those kiddos come, you’ll need to upsize pronto.
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