Thanks to Drive Shop and @MazdaUSA for providing this vehicle (a Mazda CX-3) for me to review! All opinions are my own. #DriveMazda
I recently got to take a solo trip to Walt Disney World for the DVC Safari Spectacular event. My arrival to and departure from the Orlando International Airport were just 32 hours apart, so to say it was a whirlwind trip would be an understatement.
One thing that made it feel more like a getaway? This little gem, which I quickly and affectionately dubbed “The Blueberry”. (Any Psych fans out there?)
I was invited to give the 2016 Mazda CX-3 Touring a test drive while I was in the Orlando area. It was a major departure from the three-row SUVs we drive at home, which made it quite fun.
First things first. The CX-3 is classified as a “subcompact crossover SUV”. I’ll admit that I didn’t know such a class existed, but to me it’s a bit of a misleading name. This is not Mazda’s fault, of course. As a long-time SUV driver, I can’t exactly imagine what would have qualified this vehicle as such. To me, it was simply a “very small car”… but a very small car that is not at all small on features!
A slew of safety features (stability and traction control, antilock breaks, airbags, and a rearview camera) come standard on the CX-3. The Touring edition adds a blind-spot monitor. Front wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive offered as an option on all trim levels.
I didn’t have anyone with me (or even a single suitcase) to truly test the capacity, but the trunk looked like a reasonable size for this vehicle class, and the backseats were rather wide. There are seat belts for three in the back, but as with many small cars, a middle passenger would be sitting on what is not much of a seat. I would imagine two shorter adults wouldn’t mind this backseat ride at all, though.
My favorite things about the Mazda CX-3 Touring Edition —
- Super accessible tech and safety features. Before purchasing my current vehicle, we strongly considered and test drove a Mazda CX-9. This experience wasn’t too distant a memory, so the controls and setup felt comfortably familiar. Even as a first time Mazda driver though, I think you’d find the positioning of the controls rather intuitive.
Even more intuitive and useful was the 7″ touchscreen interface. Everything you need right at your fingertips, placed in such a way that is easy to see without taking your eyes off the road – yet not obstructive at all. This particular model also had a lot of entertainment options built in. Drivers can connect a device via Bluetooth or USB, or listen to Pandora, Stitcher, and a number of other options controlled directly from the interface.
As mentioned, safety features such as blind spot assistance, lane departure warnings, and a backup camera were a great addition to the car I drove. I also loved Mazda’s “Active Driving Display”, which projected important information directly in your line of sight – again, without being obstructive – so that you literally don’t have to move your eyes to see certain details as you drive. The display is adjustable for height, as well.
- Great gas mileage. The 2016 Mazda CX-3 gets 29/35 miles per gallon (city/highway), which is quite nice. I realize I was only there for a very brief time, but it looked as if my gas gauge didn’t move at all.
- Easy maneuverability. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a strong vehicle. I don’t really love to drive minivans, crossovers, or sedans for long periods of time. I’d prefer anything with a V-8 engine – a ton of pick-up and power. I was a little concerned the CX-3 would feel weak and/or unsafe, but not once did those things keep me from enjoying my experience.Did it have the same pickup as my SUV? Of course not. (See also: much better gas mileage!) It definitely packed a punch in its little frame though, especially when in “Sport mode”. (From Mazda: “the 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission features Sport Mode, which gives you a feeling of extra power, thanks to a more performance-oriented shifting pattern that holds lower gears longer to keep you higher on the power curve.”)
It was also super easy to maneuver, as you may expect. It’s compact size combined with smooth handling made it enjoyable to drive (and especially easy to park), but it never felt like it was going to get blown away or crushed, either.
- Solo-trip fun. I mentioned the entertainment options above, from a technology standpoint. I’d also like to point out the sunroof (which is even more impactful on this size vehicle) and Bose stereo system. Do I want to crank up grown-up tunes in sunny Florida with a great sound system? Yes, please.Also, I loved the look of the leather and cloth-accented seats. It was definitely a sporty vehicle without screaming, “Look at me, I think I’m awesome.”
- Value. It’s no surprise that my family of five – including three booster seats that will eventually go away, but then quickly turn into three teenagers – will not be putting this particular car on our list the next time we’re shopping for a new ride. Mazda will definitely get some consideration, but it is fairly obvious that this little guy isn’t made for us.Starting at $21,960 though (for the Touring edition, including a 3-year/36,000 basic warranty), if you are usually a solo driver or a couple, either without kids or with a car arrangement where the family always rides in something different and mom or dad (or a teenager) takes a particular car, this is an awesome option.
There were only a couple of other things I noticed that would make me hesitate to put this car on a vehicle shopping shortlist. First, there was a pretty substantial lack of storage inside (as in, none in the center console area other than what I presume is the handy little cell phone space pictured below). Perhaps this is an appropriate use of space though, for the target customer – someone who probably doesn’t have to carry around a supply kit for a handful of kids!
Also, in Sport Mode the car did get the feel of a boost in power, but with it came an even more noticeable boost in noise. During our most recent car purchase, we were down to two options. This same characteristic was one of the major differences between the contenders; the associate we were riding with loved the “engine rev”, but to me it sounded manufactured and unnecessary. The CX-3 had a similar sound in Sport Mode, which may or may not be a deterrent – depending on who’s driving.
If you’re shopping for a new car and a subcompact crossover SUV is an appropriate choice for you, be sure to check this one out! It was a lot of fun to drive. The Mazda CX-9 my husband and I test drove this Spring, while ultimately getting edged out by our current vehicle, was also a really nice ride – so perhaps just give Mazda a good look no matter what kind of vehicle you’re shopping for!