As long as limited interior space isn’t a deal-breaker, the 2019 Mazda CX-3 is one of the top choices among subcompact-crossover SUVs. Nothing else can offer such a blend of design, dynamics and upscale ambience. The CX-3 is also one of the few contenders to offer all-wheel drive.
You'll Like The 2019 Mazda CX-3 If...
Flair, finesse and foul-weather traction are priorities in a subcompact-crossover SUV. And even though the new CX-3 doesn’t have abundant rear-passenger space, fold those rear seats down and the cargo area expands to a useful 44.5 cubic feet.
You May Not Like The 2019 Mazda CX-3 If...
Shockingly, you might want to venture off-road with your subcompact all-wheel-drive vehicle. In which case, the Jeep Renegade will be more up your dusty trail. A likelier scenario will be the desire to have as much interior space as a subcompact footprint allows. The Honda HR-V is a natural choice here, or perhaps the quirky yet sensibly shaped Kia Soul.
A new electronic parking brake frees up some cabin space for extra stowage. The front seats are redesigned for more support and comfort, while leather seating surfaces become available. The 2.0-liter engine is tweaked to be smoother and more efficient, adding to an overall improvement in noise, vibration and harshness levels. Minor revisions are also applied to the grille and taillights.
The entry-level Sport trim still has a certain style with its black cloth upholstery, the mid-level Touring elevates the new CX-3’s atmosphere with simulated leather/suede seating surfaces, while the range-topping Grand Touring models bring real leather and contrasting piping for a luxury vibe. It’s clear that a lot of smart thinking has gone into the layout and equipment. The iPad-like infotainment system includes text-message audio delivery, voice command, and apps like Aha and Stitcher, with the screen mounted fashionably on top of the dash.
With its fairly long nose and sleek cabin, the 2019 Mazda CX-3 has that classic sporty silhouette. In the light, the shapes and lines have a fascinating interplay. It all forms one harmonious whole. Such style entails a slight compromise in function, though, since there is less space for rear passengers and cargo than some (boxier) competitors.
Engine improvements include a couple of extra horses in output. It doesn’t turn the 2019 CX-3 into a rocket sled, but the relatively modest 148 horsepower is only part of a larger equation that includes well-calibrated suspension and steering systems. That said, some contenders are appreciably slower in the sprint from standstill to 60 mph. For example, the Subaru Crosstrek takes a leisurely 9.2 seconds, and the Toyota C-HR needs a yawn-inducing 11 seconds. The 2019 CX-3 does it in around eight, making this the driver’s choice among subcompact-crossover SUVs. For greater involvement, the GT trim comes with shift paddles. If there’s one small annoyance, it’s that the infotainment touch screen doesn’t allow touch inputs while the vehicle is on the move.
The 2019 Mazda CX-3 starts at $21,365, Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), for a Sport model with front-wheel drive. This is comparable with the Honda HR-V (fitted with a CVT automatic transmission) and the Hyundai Kona. Head for the top end of the range and pricing remains competitive with the Honda, at around $28,000. The Kona also offers a more powerful engine, pushing its cost ultimately closer to $30,000. All-wheel drive for the new CX-3 is an extra $1,400 across the board. Regarding resale, the CX-3’s projected 5-year values come in just below the Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR, but top those of the Nissan Kicks, Jeep Renegade, Kia Soul and Chevy Trax. Better yet, in terms of 5-year total ownership costs, the Mazda CX-3 leads its segment according to the KBB 5-Year Cost-to-Own Awards. Before purchasing, be sure to check the KBB Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their 2019 Mazda CX-3.
Every 2019 Mazda CX-3 comes equipped with a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift Sport mode. The Mazda Connect infotainment system is also standard and includes a dash-mounted 7-inch monitor with a rearview camera, voice command and a multi-function dial control that looks like it's straight out of a European luxury car. Also on the list are Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, push-button start, USB port, tilt/telescope steering wheel, cruise control, power windows/locks and keyless entry. Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support can automatically apply the brakes at speeds under 19 mph.
All-wheel drive is available in every new CX-3, but adding extra equipment is more a question of going for a higher trim level than attacking an options list. For example, the Touring model has 18-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, automatic climate control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, and heated side mirrors. Stretch to the Grand Touring models for LED headlights, fog lights, navigation, Bose audio, and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. This top level is also eligible for a GT Premium package bringing radar-based cruise control, power-adjustable driver’s seat and a heated steering wheel.
UPSCALE FEATURES GALORE
For a mainstream marque, the 2019 Mazda CX-3 has an impressively premium air. Standard features include push-button start, Mazda Connect infotainment and Smart City Brake Support (forward-collision mitigation), while the GT trims add Bose audio and adaptive LED headlights.
STYLE BEYOND ITS PRICE
It’s not unfair to say that, of all the Japanese car companies, Mazda is the one that consistently comes out with attractive designs that could easily apply to luxury labels like Lexus, Infiniti or even Jaguar. Imagine if Acura had stuff that looked like this. The CX-3, however, is a reasonably priced subcompact-crossover SUV.
Under the Hood
Powering the 2019 CX-3 is one of Mazda’s Skyactiv units, deploying some pretty complex engineering in the quest for optimum fuel efficiency. This year sees a bump from 146 to 148 horsepower, while maximum torque remains at 146 lb-ft, all pulled from a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder configuration. This links to a 6-speed automatic transmission that, in standard setup, sends drive to the front wheels (FWD). All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional. The paddle shifters in the GT trim bring the opportunity for greater driver engagement, allowing manual control over gear changing to get the most out of the engine. In normal use, though, the CX-3 is more focused on impressive fuel economy.
148 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
146 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/34 mpg (FWD), 27/32 mpg (AWD)
The 2019 Mazda CX-3 subcompact-crossover SUV has been upgraded for this model year. But the changes are as subtle as the “b” in “subtle.” Which means the CX-3 remains one of the most engaging choices among its peers, thanks to a rare athletic quality in the chassis and an equally exceptional classiness to the cabin. Naturally, there are strong competitors. The Honda HR-V, for example, has more interior space and useful seating/cargo versatility. The Hyundai Kona has fresh design plus a tempting price/equipment proposition. And while the CX-3 offers all-wheel drive (some rivals don’t), the Subaru Crosstrek has it as standard. However, for the complete package of styling, dynamics, safety, purchase price and resale values, the 2019 CX-3 makes a solid case.