Entry Price: $20,390
Price as Tested: $29,625
This week, we’re driving the 2019 Mazda CX-3, a popular compact SUV coming off a complete redesign just two years ago. The CX-3 is another Mazda vehicle that touts its “everything must work in unison” ideology, (called Skyactiv), and does so in an aggressive print and TV marketing campaign.
As for this little SUV, Mazda engineers took the popular compact Mazda 3 sedan, did some SUV specific upgrades, and ended up with a CX-3 that delivers some of the attributes of its larger Mazda CX-5 in a smaller package.
Built in Hofu, Japan, CX-3 starts at just $20,390 for the front drive Sport model or just $21,790 for an all-wheel drive (AWD). Thus, the reality of parking a new 2019 CX-3 in your driveway becomes a reality. Our tester arrived in top class Grand Touring trim with Mazda’s heralded i-ACTIV AWD underpinnings at a base of $27,145.
The fully automatic AWD system constantly monitors road conditions and is ready to add or subtract power to any of the four wheels when the CX-3 4x4 computer determines a wheel is losing traction. Considering the AWD system costs only $1,400 more on the three CX-3 models, (Sport, Touring and Grand Touring) this option should be a major consideration regardless of your geographical location as you never know when Mother Nature will throw inclement weather your way or you might want to enjoy a morning running in the sand at Daytona Beach.
Outwardly, Mazda CX-3 is easily recognized as a Mazda family member and bears likeness to the midsize CX-5 and even larger CX-9. However, in true compact form, the CX-3 rides on a 5.2-inch shorter wheelbase than CX-5, which makes city driving and parking a snap. Although road irregularities are a bit more pronounced, this little Mazda handles very well on the country roads and offers secure handling and cornering abilities.
Overall, Mazda CX-3 delivers everything the company learns in its top professional endurance Prototype classes of road racing right on down to the hundreds of Mazda Miata SCCA club cars that race every weekend. As an example, when you select CX-3’s “Sport driving mode” button on the six speed automatic transmission (with paddle shifters), you’ll enjoy a more responsive CX-3 with computer controlled downshifting when braking from 60 mph to enhanced RPM ranges for more torque and acceleration. Features like this usually don’t come in a compact SUV, but then again, neither do CX-3’s high quality and standard Yokohama Avid 18-inch tires on lightweight “gun metal” alloy wheels.
Every Mazda CX-3 relies on a 2.0-liter fuel injected four cylinder that boasts a high 13-1 compression ratio for extra pep. Developing just 148 horses and 146 lb. ft. of torque, you’ll still be impressed as the CX-3 accelerates to 60 mph in a bit over eight seconds. This all comes thanks to CX-3’s less than 3,000-pound curb weight and use of lighter yet stronger sport tuned suspension and engine components. Notable is the G-Vector control, front strut independent and a rear torsion beam setup all of which assists in the fine handling characteristics.
Inside, CX-3 is quite roomy for a compact SUV, although rear seat leg room is a bit tight while cargo room with the back seat up is acceptable but not spacious. Still, the back seat is roomy enough for smaller adults.
Overall, the cabin is well done and seating is comfortable. The instrumentation is good and features a head-up display that shows the mph number on the lower windshield. I enjoyed a longer 120-mile trip with our CX-3 and it was both fun and economical to drive. Fuel mileage for the front drive CX-3 is 29 city and 35 highway while our AWD Grand Touring is good for 27 city and 32 highway.
All of Mazda’s Skyactiv safety technology seems to improve every year and is standard across the line. CX-3 features four wheels ABS brakes, blind spot monitoring, rain sensing wipers, rear safety camera, Skyactiv body ring roll bar structure, all the traction and stability controls, hill launch assist, rear cross traffic alert, and all the airbags as standard fare. Overall, every CX-3 boasts government Five Star Crash Safety ratings, something to remember when shopping this market.
A notable standard Grand Touring feature is Mazda’s Activsense safety enhancements that include intuitive radar cruise control, Smart City brake control, Smart brake support, lane departure warning, auto headlights, high beam control and rain sensing wipers that all work in tandem. This features is $1,000 more on the Touring model and $1,100 more on the Sport, the latter which has a few more ancillary items that are standard on the upper models.
Our Grand Touring Edition featured a standard power moonroof, seven speaker Bose stereo system, leather trim, Mazda navigation, Bluetooth, push button start, automatic climate control and special LED head and tail lights. Options include Crystal Red paint for $595, a rear bumper guard ($100), door sill plates ($100) and a Premium Package that features power driver seat with lumbar and memory, heated steering wheel, traffic sign recognition, and auto dim rear mirror for $710 more. With $975 delivery, the final tally came in at $29,625.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 101.2-inches, 2,952 lb. curb weight, 34.8 turning circle, 6.1-inch ground clearance, 11.9 gallon fuel tank, and from 12.4 to 44.5 cu. ft of cargo space.
The 2019 Mazda CX-3 is a great little SUV and a “must test drive” candidate. I’d start with the entry Sport model for $20,000, add the $1,100 safety package and then move up according to your economic abilities. Remember that a near $30,000 CX-3’s puts you firmly in all-new CX-5 territory, which undergoes a nice redesign for 2019 and starts at about $25,500.
Likes: Safety features galore, price, looks, handling.
Dislikes: Road noise, tight rear quarters.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2019 Mazda CX-3
Entry Price: $20,390