2019 Mazda CX-3 SUV, AWD

Refreshed for the 2019 model year, the Mazda CX-3 is a subcompact crossover SUV manufactured in Japan by Mazda. Based on the same platform as the Mazda2, it was originally introduced to the public in November and initially displayed at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, as a production vehicle for the model year 2016. The CX-3 model years include 2017,2018 and 2019.

Mild styling updates can be seen for 2019, along with a center armrest and bin that are now standard. Depending on the trim level, advanced safety features are available.
Long on looks, with a definite ‘cute’ factor, the CX-3 is attractive and shapely. The interior on our test CX-3 was a handsome cream leather. Seats are comfortable and accommodate all sizes, including those with long legs. Although the interior is a little on the sparse side, with few bells, it's attractive and includes some goodies. Mazda refers to the interior as “Japanese Essentialism," or stripping away the busy. But it’s adequate for most tastes, and at the $20,000+ price range, it should appeal to those who need a small commuter that rides like a bigger car. Dependable and with good fuel economy.

Soul Red Crystal Metallic

Soul Red Crystal Metallic

As with all Mazda products, drivers will get an engaging driving experience, decent fuel economy and a good selection of active safety features. As we neared those cars in front of us at the light, the little beeper sounded, reminding us of the brake support with pedestrian detection feature. Radar Cruise offers cruise control with Stop and Go, which takes some getting used to.

If we must mention the "cons," cargo space might be one of them. Lacking average space, the cargo area is small, and the rear seating area is cramped for again, those with long legs. Some drivers may find the suspension tuning too firm, but this driver found it just right and appreciated the sporty feel, with a choice of “Sport” ride. The rear liftgate is powered with programmable height adjustment; a good thing so that drivers don't take a door in the head when loading.

The 2019 Mazda CX-3 crossover is available in three trim levels: Sport Automatic $24,350; Sport AWD: $25,750; Touring Auto, $26,615, Touring Auto AWD, $28,015; Grand Touring, $30,045, Grand Touring AWD, $31,445; Signature Auto AWD, $36,879; and Grand Touring Reserve auto AWD, $34,890. The Mazda CX-3 includes safety features only before available on the top Grand Touring trim. So those looking for a reasonably-priced small crossover, the CX-3 will satisfy. Keyless ignition and heated front seats, for instance, are included on the Touring trim model.

Competition is steep in this size and type of SUV, and includes Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Subaru Forester and Nissan Rogue.

All trim levels in the Mazda CX-5 are equipped with the Skyactive G 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine, 16 valve with 148 horsepower. Six-speed automatic transmission is standard, with manual ….If we had a complaint it would be the 4-cylinder engine. Even with a jump in power, the fuel economy is good at 32 mpg (29/34). It’s just hard to get away from the noise. But then, I can remember back when the V-8 engines were discontinued for some time. I thought I’d never adjust to a 6-cylinder!

Front-wheel-drive is standard on the CX-3 and all-wheel-drive is available on all trim levels. Our test vehicle came with all-wheel-drive, which came in handy. The day before the CX-3 arrived, Indy had 5 more inches of snow.This is a quick little SUV; although small in dimensions. Handling, steering and overall drivability are to be commended, but then we’re partial to Mazda products. Acceleration, however, leaves a little to be desired. We had an adjustment to getting the shifting right. At first, this writer thought there might be a glitch in the tranny, as it struggled to shift into third gear. Going back-forth with the manual/automatic shift, it finally evened out. Anyone moving into the CX-3 isn’t expecting or wanting a lot of power off the line. And you’ll find the same responses in equivalent vehicles. The CX-3 SUV happens to reach the 60 mph at 8.5 seconds.

Interior leather seating

Interior leather seating

Another addition for this year includes a electronic parking brake, freeing up a little extra space for the driver. As with all new vehicles today, one will take home more than they’ll ever need or use in a vehicle. What’s nice-and simple with the Mazda products is you can get about the same amount of goodies on all 3 trim levels, For instance, you’re going up to a 18-inch tire on the Grand Touring model, from a 16-inch on the Sport. But all measurements remain the same, or a digit off. Of course, if you just must have all those ‘extras,’ Mazda, like all other manufacturers will accommodate.Yes, they’ll take your extra dough. As a smaller manufacturer, though, they’re slimmer and trimmer. Makes sense to this writer.

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on this writer’s week in the Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring version, with all-wheel-drive. Although not much will stop a vehicle when ice lies underneath the snow on the road. Coming back to Indy proved treacherous but the CX-3 provided a little extra safety in the all-wheel-drive system. Stopping came quicker and maneuvering was more sure.

We found no issues with the braking; there when needed and smoothly executed. The steering feels like Mazda and the car turns on a dime. It’s light and easy to maneuver. The CX-3 Grand Touring SUV is quiet and smooth. Once you reach your speed on the highway, it’s an easy drive. It rides very smoothly, and feels like a larger vehicle.

All controls are straight forward and easy to operate. The sound system is a Bose with seven speakers, although a tad sub-par, but then it’s not a Mark Levinson. The top-of-the-line Grand Touring model has adaptive headlights, a sunroof, LED exterior lighting, paddle shifters, heads-up display, leather upholstery, cargo cover, and nav system. The premium audio system includes satellite and HD radio. Safety features-all options-include the advance adaptive cruise control with full-speed range, lane departure warning, automatic high beams and pedestrian detection.

If you just have to have it all, you can opt for the available Premium package which includes power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, auto-dimming rearview mirror, driver-seat memory functions, heated steering wheel and traffic sign reader. Our tester came with heated seats and heated steering wheel.

If you’re an audio-file, you’ll like the 7-inch infotainment screen (standard on all trims), with functions require extra steps. The central tach and large digital speedo are nice but look a little lost on an otherwise empty dash, and the head-up display seems like an afterthought, even though this writer is getting used to them. Don’t count on Apply CarPlay or Android Auto, neither are available. Lane departure warning, blind spot monitor and smart brake support are.

Just a passing note: I happened upon an interview with Dave Coleman, Development Vehicle Engineer at Mazda. The writer asked Dave what happened to “Mazdaspeed,” a moniker we haven’t seen since 2013. The in-house racing and tuning team that added turbo power and sharper handling to vehicles like the Protégé, Miata, Mazda6 and Mazda3. His response, in part, was that the all-new Mazda3 is the first vehicle engineered under Mazda’s new human-centric design strategy. Mazda has continued this success ride on the 3 products.

Coleman added that “the more Mazda gets their regular cars to where they want them, the less gap there is to what one would want to do with a Mazdaspeed car.” He also noted the lack of demand and enthusiasm for the Mazdaspeed-type vehicle. Which led to his remark that Mazda is, instead, moving toward “more polish and more premium.”


MSRP: $24,350-$36,890
Engine: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, w/VVT, DOHC, 16 valve; 148 hp., 146 ft. lb. torque
Transmission: SkyActive drive, six-speed automatic, with manual shift and sport mode
Wheelbase: 101.2 in.
Height: 60.9 in.
Curb Weight: 2,809 lbs.
Length: 168.3 in.
Seats: 5
Tires: 215/50/R18 all-season; temporary spare T125/90 16
Wheels: 16-inch aluminum alloy
EPA Fuel Economy: 32 mpg., 27/32 mpg.
Fuel tank capacity: 12.7 gal.
Towing Capacity: 2,000 lbs.

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