Is The 2017 Mazda CX-3 Right For You?

By

Automotive Editor

Brandon Turkus is CarsDirect.com’s Automotive Content Manager. He’s responsible for editing content that appears on these pages, and also represents CarsDirect’s sister sites The Car Connection, Motor Authority, and Green Car Reports in Detroit, Michigan. Before joining Internet Brands, Brandon served as a contributor for enthusiast sites Autoblog and Motor1, covering automotive news and reviewing the industry’s newest models.


, Automotive Editor - March 31, 2017

Consumers continue to abandon small sedans and hatchbacks in favor of tiny crossovers. The last few years have seen automakers from Jeep to Honda to luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus scramble to introduce this increasingly popular class of small vehicles.

Mazda’s entry into this increasingly popular segment is the CX-3. Loosely based on a new version of the critically acclaimed but slow selling Mazda2, the CX-3 has all the typical small CUV bonafides. But what sort of consumer is this featherweight right for?

Right For

The style-focused

Put simply, Mazda’s exterior and interior designs have been among the industry’s best for the past several years. The company’s stylish grille and headlights are a far cry from the dopey, clownish grin of yesteryear’s Mazda – instead, today’s design language is predatory and imposing, but also elegant. The prettiest cars demand an over-the-shoulder glance after parking them, and the CX-3 is no exception.

Closet enthusiasts

Your vehicle makes a statement, whether it be to other motorists, your family, or your boss and coworkers. A sports car or hot hatchback might not send the right message to these folks, but a simple crossover? The CX-3 tells friends and strangers that you’re practical, realistic, and frugal with a stylish flair. But from behind the wheel, this little CUV still lets its driver embrace their enthusiast desires with fast, direct steering, an ear-pleasing four-cylinder exhaust note, and a firm suspension that gives the CX-3 a terrier-like cornering character. Bottom line? If you want your small CUV to be fun, this Mazda is your best choice.

Technophiles

LED headlights, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and push-button start are just a few of the impressive features available on the range-topping CX-3 Grand Touring we tested. That said, only a few of those come standard – all the safety stuff, for example, is part of the available i-Activesense Package. Still, the fact that Mazda offers them at all on its entry level crossover garners some praise.

Mazda CX-3

Wrong For

Families

The Mazda’s biggest flaw, by a country mile, is its size. Based on the not-for-America (anymore) Mazda2, the CX-3 is tiny on the inside. Its 101.2-inch wheelbase is over 1.5 inches smaller than the already small Honda HR-V – owners (or more specifically, their passengers) will feel the impact in the second row, where the CX-3 has just 35 inches of legroom to the Honda’s 39.3. That’s a modest difference, though, compared to cargo capacity. There’s just 10.1 cubic feet in the CX-3 when the second row is up to the Honda’s 24.3 cubic feet. Yes, the HR-V’s trunk has almost 2.5 times as much space. The CX-3 claws some points back with its second row down, allowing 42.3 cubes of stuff in the back, but it’s still a far cry from the HR-V’s 58.8-cubic-foot maximum.

Budget shoppers

While the base Sport and Touring models are reasonably priced – $21,210 and $23,210 for the all-wheel-drive-equipped versions of these trims – the Grand Touring with all-wheel drive starts at $26,240. Add the $1,170 i-Activesense Package, and that figure climbs to $28,350. That’s an extremely hard sell for such a small package, no matter how well equipped it is. If you’re serious about purchasing a CX-3, we’d strongly encourage looking at the much more reasonably priced Touring.

Fuel Sippers

Officially, the CX-3’s mileage is respectable – front-drive models return 35 miles per gallon on the freeway and 29 mpg in the city for a 31-mpg combined rating. Adding all-wheel drive drops the highway economy by three mpg, and the city and combined rating by two mpg, respectively. But with just 146 horsepower from the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, drivers need to exercise the CX-3 pretty hard to gather speed, which has an impact on real-world fuel economy. A more powerful engine might actually help the CX-3 be more efficient.

Learn more about the 2017 Mazda CX-3, along with this month's best deals and incentives »

Mazda CX-3

, Automotive Editor

Brandon Turkus is CarsDirect.com’s Automotive Content Manager. He’s responsible for editing content that appears on these pages, and also represents CarsDirect’s sister sites The Car Connection, Motor Authority, and Green Car Reports in Detroit, Michigan. Before joining Internet Brands, Brandon served as a contributor for enthusiast sites Autoblog and Motor1, covering automotive news and reviewing the industry’s newest models.