If you’re looking for one of the smallest and least expensive Mazdas in America, then you really have just one choice: the 2019 Mazda CX-3, that’s because in the United States Mazda does not sell the Mazda 2, which is the smallest Mazda in other world markets.
Although, if you really wanted a Mazda 2, you could actually buy a Toyota Yaris IA, and that is essentially a Mazda 2 sedan with a Toyota logo on the front. The CX-3 is the smallest Mazda crossover and 2019 brings a few tweaks to the model. That was first launched in 2016. We still have this very distinctive Mazda front-end. LED headlamps are standard in the top-end trim and available in all the models and the one that we’re driving has a radar sensor right here, because this does have the complete active safety package. Some car companies out there like tota, are putting all of their latest active safety gadgets and gizmos in every trim, including base models. But Mazda is taking a slightly different approach with the cx-3. The base Sport trim has a slightly different safety package than what we see right here.
That model gives us low-speed, autonomous, braking blind spot warning and rear cross traffic detection. Those are enabled, via some sensors in the back of the vehicle and a module. That’s right here. Behind the windscreen, the model that we’re driving this week is the top-end Grand Touring trim.
So we have all of the latest active safety features, including expanded autonomous braking at higher speeds. Pedestrian detection LED headlamps that turn in the corners. These are some of the best headlamps. You can get in this segment radar, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning now, unlike some car companies that keep these features only in top trims Mazda will, let you add, this entire active safety package to even the base sport trim.
If you want to we’ll get onto that later in the pricing section at 168 inches long, the cx-3 is on the long side for the subcompact crossover category in America. This is about four inches longer than the new Hyundai Kona, but about two inches shorter than the Honda HRV, which is probably the most practical entry in this segment. I find the overall style of the cx-3 very attractive, and it’s not just that front end. We saw there before it’s also the overall proportions, you’ll notice that when you look at the cx-3, this looks a little bit more.
Like a jacked-up hatch, we have a very hatchback looking rear end right back there, and then we have a long hood up front that we don’t find in every SUV or crossover in America. That gives this a look. That’s perhaps a little bit more like the former generation BMW x1, then the average entry in this segment. Now, on the downside, this long hood design does compromise interior space and we don’t find the same kind of cargo volume or interior passenger volume that we find in the Honda HRV.
Even though the HRV is only about two inches longer than this, it has many more inches combined legroom than what we see here in this vehicle, and a lot of that has to do with the engine design under the hood. We’ll talk about that in just a little bit, but you’ll really notice that when you take a look at the distance between the front wheels and the front doors there that that’s a little bit longer than the average entry here, the rear end styling is very similar To the rest of the Mazda line, we have these sort of Angry Birds, tail lamps, that mirror what’s going on up front. These are very attractive in my mind and remind me an awful lot of some Infiniti models. We have the turn signals right here in the center.
Those are amber elements and then the backup lights are actually very small and discreetly placed right there on the hatch in keeping with mazda sporty advertising. We have twin exhaust tips at the bottom and you notice this hatch is a little bit unusually placed and unusually sized it doesn’t go all the way down here to the bumper like most crossovers in this segment. I’m pop that you’ll really see the difference right here. This entire section right there stays with the body when we open that hatch.
When you look under the hood of a modern, Mazda, you’ll notice, something unusual and that is the positioning of the engine, there’s a great deal of room between the engine and the firewall in the vehicle. That’s all part of Mazdas, rather innovative approach to fuel efficiency. Mazda discovered that by properly tuning the exhaust runner links, you could really improve the scavenging ability of the engine and therefore improve fuel efficiency. The downside of that is that the exhaust manifold has to be very, very large, and that takes up a lot of room right back there behind the engine and that’s part of why we have this very attractive.
Look in modern Mazdas people love the long hood look and, of course, that helps Mazda get slightly better fuel efficiency. So in a way it’s a win-win, but again that does reduce interior space. Since the cx-3 is a crossover. Let’s talk about capability, we have 6.2 inches of ground clearance, which is pretty similar to the new Hyundai Kona, but that is on the lower end of this segment.
The Ford EcoSport will give you seven point: eight inches. If you look at a Jeep renegade or a Subaru, Crosstrek you’ll get eight point: seven inches of ground clearance. That is a lot of difference between this and some of those other competitors, and it means that, even if you’re out on a very mild path, you’ll have to avoid larger rocks in this, and you wouldn’t have to have that same kind of dedication to avoidance. In the Jeep or in the Subaru all-wheel-drive system capability is very similar to pretty much every other entry in this segment, although we don’t have a user command able center coupling lock in this, like we find in the kona, the renegade is probably the most capable due To the overall system design, one of the changes for 2019 is a revised front seat design.
Since we’re driving the top-end trim. We have the optional power driver’s seat with a two-way adjustable lumbar support. Now it’s worth knowing that this lumbar still does not come out of the seat very far. So if you’re looking for aggressive front seat lumbar, this is not really going to be the best option for you, as we see in some of Mazdas other sedans and crossovers they’re driving a lot of premium features down here, too less expensive vehicles.
So we do have that power, lumbar support, for instance, that we don’t generally find in this segment. We also have a two-position seat memory, a tilt, telescopic steering column and even though this front passenger seat is not powered, it does adjust for height and that’s something that we don’t see in all of the competition hopping into the back seat. We find the downside for the stylish side profile of the cx-3. We find a lot less combined legroom back here, then we find in something like the Honda, HRV and even versus something like the Hyundai Kona, which has about the same kind of legroom and Headroom.
I actually find this rear seat compartment to be a little bit tighter. My head just barely touches the ceiling, and these headrests are positioned so that they actually hit me in kind of a strange place in the back. They are designed to go very low on the seat, but the counterpoint to that is that they don’t go high enough really. For me, you’ll really notice the legroom.
If I try and scoot over to the right side of the vehicle where this front seat was adjusted for a six foot, five person – and I really can’t get comfortable on this side II, if I move all the way over to the right, I just can’t get My legs back there under that seat, in addition to the rear seats being a little bit tight, the cargo area is a little bit smaller than the competition as well. Behind this hatch, we find twelve point four cubic feet of storage space. That’s about half of what we find in the Honda HRV or the Kia Soul, although it is just a little bit below what we find in the Hyundai Kona still, the Hyundai Kona will fit more bags in the back, and that is a pretty big difference. This 22 inch roller bag will fit back here behind that rear seat in that position.
But if I were to try and rotate it to this position, you actually can’t push them all the way over to the sides of the cargo area, and the cargo area itself is a little on the narrow side. Some bags may even have trouble fitting in that position if they’re just a little bit too tall. Although this one does, as you can see right there, the other downside is. We have a hard cargo cover right here on top and if you wanted to put larger items in the vehicle, you’d have to leave this somewhere.
This is a little bit less practical than some of those roller covers that we see in the competition on the bright side. If we dive a little bit deeper into this cargo area, we find a very small amount of storage right here, underneath that load floor load. Four is also a very rigid sturdy variety, so you’d have no problems, putting heavier items in here and then below that we actually find a spare tire and that’s something that we don’t find in all the competition. The interior is largely the same as the previous model year vehicle.
Although there are a few changes for 2019, we still have a pretty standard sized moon roof right there over the driver and front-passenger heads height, adjustable shoulder pills, which are another nice touch that we don’t find in every subcompact crossover in America actually, including even in the Luxury segment two-way adjustable headrests up front. Personally, I found that those stuck a little bit further forward than I would have liked and we have leather upholstery in this particular model. If you get the touring trim, you get leather at. If you get the Grand Touring, then you actually get real leather.
As we see in some of Mazdas other vehicles, we find a little bit more aggressive, bolstering on the front seats than we find in other mainstream competitors. If we move on over to the front doors we find just about as much soft touch material as we find in the competition, the upper section of the door is a hard plastic. That’s a little bit of a bummer. If you do like putting your arm on top of the door, but we do have a soft armrest and then actually a faux suede insert right there in this Grand Touring trim, which actually is a very nice and somewhat unexpected touch.
We then have a bottle holder down there at the bottom of the door, and this particular vehicle has the optional Bose audio system that imitation suede material continues on over to the dashboard. It is this section right here between the hard upper section of the dashboard and the hard lower section of the dashboard. The overall dashboard design reminds me a little bit of Mazda mx-5 Roadster. We have round air vents on the left, side and right side of your screen and then a square air vent or rec the rectangular event right there in the middle hazard light button, and then we have a standard 7 inch.
Color touch screen LCD right here in the dashboard. This will be found in all models, including the base trim, and the base trim can be upgraded to factor navigation aftermarket. If you want to, you, just buy the SD card from your Ma’s dealer pop it in and being you have navigation now we do not find apple, carplay or Android auto, yet on this screen, although Mazda does tell us that it will be coming soon via a Software update that software update and hardware update is currently available for the Mazda 6. Soon it will be available in other Mazda models, including this CX 3, but the moment we just have this pretty standard USB and Bluetooth interface, but thankfully, that screen is standard in all models.
Moving down the dashboard, we have our start/stop button for the engine over there heated steering wheel button, heated seats. The heated steering wheel is another touch that we don’t find in that many entries in this particular segment single zone, automatic climate control in this particular model. Moving down from there, we have two USB inputs: auxilary input, 12-volt power port, and this is where you would put the SD card for the mapping database. That slot again will be there in all models.
Even if you don’t get factory navigation continuing down from there. We have a pretty standard console. Shifter manual mode is over to the left, push away from the driver for gear down, pull towards the driver for gear up, there’s a toggle to switch between sport mode and normal mode. Then, behind that we have an electric parking brake.
That’s another change for 2019, auto brake hold right there and then the controls for that multifunction infotainment system. In some ways this system is similar to our Drive, because we have not this controller here in the dashboard, but that screen is also a touchscreen. However, the touchscreen functionality stops once you start moving, so you can really only use it while you’re parked between the front seats. We find a padded armrest.
That’s a change for 2019. If we lift that up out of the way we find a combination, storage area and cup holder zone, these pull out, you can see right like that and then, if I press this button on top a little cup holder, flips out like that little panel keeps the Cup from going too deep and then there’s that little sort of holder right there press this button and we get basically the same thing on this front apartment now. These do not do a very good job of keeping soda cans or other slimmer drinks in place. But if you had some large take-out drinks, then they would fit fairly well in there.
Personally. This is not as handy as a separate cargo area and cupholders own the vehicle. We’re driving has the available heads-up display, but this is a little bit different than the heads-up displays that we see in the luxury segment and actually quite similar to what we see in the Hyundai Kona. You notice that the display that you’re seeing is not projected on the windscreen.
It’s actually being projected on this little sheet of plastic right here that pops up just on top of the steering wheel, that doesn’t project the image as far ahead as I would like, and for me, because of my overall height we’re getting basically the image you’re. Seeing right here, the image is projected right on top of that windshield wiper, it’s not as useful as some of those luxury displays, but this vehicle does have one and most of the competition does not. It does help get that information a little bit further out ahead of you. If we move down to the instrument cluster, we find a design, that’s pretty similar to the other Mazda models out there.
We have this large central tech, ometer, a digital speedometer there right inside status of the transmission over here, Park, Drive, etc. If you enter the manual mode, you’ll see that over there, along with the odometer and then your multi-function trip computer is over here on the right. You click through the trip odometers with the button right over here on the right side. You click between miles per hour and kilometers, an hour by pressing and holding the one over here on the left.
If you want to toggle through the trip computer on the right side, you actually use a button on the steering wheel for that, the steering wheel is basically the same design that we see in other Mazda models. We have some small sport grips up top and if consistent diameter overall on the left side of the stairwell, we have the down paddle on the right side. We have the upshift paddle. Then we have volume up/down track forward backward over here and then, if we press the center button pressing everything down, we get voice command and then info.
The one downside to this is that it’s actually pretty easy to accidentally go track forward or backward when you want to change that readout on that instrument, cluster right there dedicated phone buttons below that on the right side of the steering wheel. We have the buttons for the radar adaptive cruise control system generally speaking, Mazdas flavor performance has not been about acceleration and that’s definitely true for the cx-3. We ran from 0 to 60 in 8.5 seconds in this vehicle that is notably slower than the hyundai kona, with the available 1.6 liter turbo and the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. That is a very, very quick vehicle for this segment, because subcompact crossovers in this main stream segment are designed to be very affordable vehicles.
Not that many turbocharged engines are available, but you will find them in something like the chevy trax or if you step up into a Buick Encore, you can choose between two slightly different turbos in terms of overall braking score. The Spiegel did fairly well for itself. We stopped from 60 miles an hour back to zero in 118 feet, which is a very short score for this segment. You can thank the light, curb wait for the cx-3 for that short stopping distance.
This is one of the lighter subcompact crossover us in America and light kerb weight affects not just braking but also handling ability. So, even though this CX 3 has 215 lift tires versus some of the wider tires that we find on a select number of the competition, this actually handles very, very well for the segment, but I have to say that the brand-new Hyundai Kona will actually hold the Road a little bit better again, if you look at the top-end trims, if you’re comparing like vehicle to like vehicle lower end trims of this will actually handle a little bit better than that Kona, however, but by the time you move on up to this very top End Grand Touring trim a comparable, Hyundai Kona would handle a little bit better, but the overall handling feel of the cx-3 is, I think, the best in this segment. This is another area where Mazda has typically done well and that translates directly to this CX 3. The overall handling feel the amount of feedback that we get from the front tires is definitely better than the average in this group out on a rougher road like we’re on right here.
You’ll definitely notice that the suspension in the cx-3 is firmer than the average subcompact crossover and that actually includes luxury sub compact crossovers, because I think that the overall suspension tuning on this is firmer than something like a Volvo XC, 40 or actually even a BMW. X. 2 and of course, since this is a mainstream crossover, we don’t have an adaptive suspension even in this top and trim. That would make this an awful lot more expensive and it wouldn’t really fit in with the rest of the crowd. So, if you’re looking for something with a firmer suspension tune, that’s gon na lean a little bit less than the corners and overall feel a little bit more engaging.
Then this is going to be a very good option, but on the other hand, if you’re looking for something that’s a little bit smoother out on the road than something like the Honda HRV might be a better fit when it comes to our overall ride score. I’m gon na have to give this model a see, because just about every one of the competition is going to be a little bit softer out on the road back out here on a paved road. The firm suspension is definitely noticeable and it can be a little bit tiring if you’re on a rougher road or a road with freeway expansion. Joints, you’ll also notice that the cx-3 has a fairly short wheelbase, and that does mean that you get a little bit of a bobble-headed feel if you’re out on a freeway with those regularly spaced expansion joints in our cabin noise score.
This model came in at just over 74 decibels, making this one of the louder subcompact crossovers in terms of overall cabin noise. It’s important to remember that there are two components in cabin noise: there’s wind noise and then there’s Road noise. Wind noise is fairly well controlled. In the cx-3, but we definitely get more Road noise into this cabin.
So if you’re driving along on a rougher or older road surface, especially something like a concrete highway you’re going to get more noise in this cabin than in some of the newer competitors. In terms of overall fuel economy, this model did very well for itself actually beating the EPA estimate. We’ve been getting right around 30 miles per gallon in this vehicle. The EPA says we should be getting 29 now.
You will get better fuel economy in some of the competitors that have CVTs continuously variable transmissions do an awful lot for overall fuel economy, but most of those competitors are going to be a little bit slower than this zero to 60, and the CVT is definitely not Going to be as engaging, although I’ve said before that I wish Mazda would develop an 8-speed automatic or by someone else’s 8-speed automatic in this particular category. Six speeds: are the average, not eight speeds, so it’s not really that much of a problem in this vehicle that this does have a 6-speed auto, and this is one of the faster shifting entries in this segment and definitely faster. If you plan on selecting your own ratio than those CV T’s that we find in the competition, so if you do plan on using them, paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel or the shifter right here in the center console, this is going to be More engaging than those CVT equipped options over all the cx-3 is pretty much exactly what you’d expect out of a Mazda in this category. It feels a little bit more premium, both in terms of the overall driving nature and just in terms of the overall cabin than many of its direct competitors, but on the other hand, you will find competitors that handle better than this and accelerate better than this.
Those are important things to keep in mind in the United States. The cx-3 is the smallest, but not the least expensive Mazda available. Remember that the Mazda 2 is not sold in this country. Nursing for 2019 starts at 20,000 390.
If you want all-wheel drive, that’s 20 1790, the base model comes relatively well equipped. We get alloy wheels instead of steel wheels like we see in some of the competition, those dual exhaust tips and the seven-inch infotainment and navigation system. That system can be updated to include apple carplay and android later, but that will be an aftermarket upgrade at this point in time. Mazda is rolling out their carplay upgrades to their models relatively slowly and at this point in time, just the cx-9 and the Mazda 6 will come with carplay from the factory the other models.
It can be added to aftermarket it’s about a $ 500 upgrade if you’re interested Mazda is also offering autonomous braking in that base model along with blind spot monitoring. These are safety features that we don’t find in all of the competitions base trims as we see with most, but not all of the entries in this particular segment. You can add a reasonable amount of stuff to your CX 3 and you can get it all the way up to about $ 28,000. If you try the top-end model with the moonroof and all-wheel drive, but no additional options ends up at 27,000. 145.
That’s basically the model that we were driving this week. It has the LED headlamps that steer in the corners the LED fog, lamps navigation, the Bose audio system, auto braking with pedestrian detection and radar adaptive cruise control, although most of the vehicles in this particular segment seem to run about the same pricing range as the cx-3 About 20,000 dollars on it just under $ 30,000, keep in mind that there aren’t entries in the segment that are considerably less expensive and those wouldn’t be the direct competition for the cx-3. Let’s dive into that competition right now, our first competitor is the all-new Hyundai Kona. The Kona is a very attractive entry in this segment.
When you take a look at its overall performance and its overall pricing, I also think that the Kona has a very attractive interior and the exterior is growing on me. A little bit more unlike Mazda Hyundai offers two different engines in the kona, so you can get a model that has much improved performance over what we see in the cx-3 that uplevel engine will get you 0 to 60 about 2 seconds faster. It’s a pretty big difference in this segment. It’s also worth noting that the Kona really is the handling winner in this segment.
It handles better than the cx-3, even though I think the cx-3 has a slightly better overall feel now you could drastically improve the cx-3 s. Handling by upgrading the wheels and tires aftermarket, but from the factory, the Kona is definitely going to outperform the Mazda. Depending on how you’ve configured your model, the Kona will be a little bit more expensive than the cx-3. But it is worth noting that for the price of the top-end Grand Touring cx-3, you could get into the more powerful engine in the Kona, and I have a feeling that that would probably be my preference because is significantly faster.
It also is a little bit more practical overall, because the cx-3 is a little on the small side for this segment and it’s really noticeable. When you take a look at the cargo capacity as well as the accommodations in the backseat. It’s definitely very tight back there. On the flipside, even though the cx-3 is one of the older entries in this segment, I think it’s aged extremely well, it’s very attractive on the outside.
It also is very attractive on the inside and when you take a look at that very top end, Grand Touring trim that we were driving. It actually has a very premium feel to it, and I think that’s why it compares very well to our next competitor, the Buick Encore. The Encore is kind of an odd entry because it’s a tweener, it’s it’s somewhere between entries like the Hyundai Kona and entries like a BMW, x1 in terms of overall positioning overall price and luxury feature set etcetera. But I don’t necessarily think that the Encore really feels that much more premium than the cx-3.
I think the cx-3 is definitely the prettier vehicle. Overall, the Encore does offer turbocharged engines and there is an optional engine that will definitely get you faster 0 to 60 than the cx-3, but handling isn’t really that much of an improvement over there with the Buick. We do get a longer warranty and a more premium dealer experience, but I think overall, this comparison really shines. The light on how good the cx-3 is, both inside and outside it’s just a little bit on the small side again, so the rear seats and the cargo area are not going to be as generous as the Encore but in terms of overall fit and finish.
And overall luxury feel it actually compares very, very well moving on to more of a mainstream competitor. We have the 2019 Honda HRV, which has been recently refreshed. The HRV actually handles quite well, even though it is softer and fairly high off the ground. The 2019 refresh brings a number of things that people were complaining about in previous versions of the HRV.
We now have more physical buttons and knobs for the sound system. We have apple, carplay and android auto available, and we have Honda’s active safety system called Honda. Sensing now, unfortunately, the base 20,500 $ 20 price point does not buy you. Those features and remember that we do get autonomous, braking and blind spot monitoring even in the base cx3.
So 6:3 does very well when it comes to standard active safety technologies. However, if you want adaptive cruise control, you’ll actually find that at a lower price point in HRV, that happens at 20 3720, if you’re, just after apple carplay you’ll find that 22222 HRV is one of the most practical entries in this segment. It has an enormous amount of legroom. It has a very practical design to the rear seats that makes cargo carrying an awful lot more practical than the average entry in the segment, and then it couples that all with one of the largest cargo areas, it actually has a cargo area.
That’s about the same size as the Kia Soul, even though the Kia Soul is a little square box. That’s really obvious when you compare the HRV to this x3, because the cargo area is about double the size and it’s very very convenient in HRV. We also have those rear seats that fold up and allow you to put much larger items in the HRV, whether they’re in the cargo area or in the rear seat area, definitely an advantage over the Mazda. But I don’t think that the interior, even after the Refresh or the exterior, is quite as premium feeling as the Mazdas.
So if you’re looking for a small crossover that has a more premium feel again, I think the Mazda is going to be a good option here. Next up we have the tow to CHR. This is a front-wheel drive. Only crossover very much like the Nissan kicks.
The CHR is a good value in base form because it does have that radar, adaptive cruise control system standard and, of course, all of Toto’s latest active safety technologies. That puts it a little bit above the cx-3 when it comes to that overall base model value. But there’s no all-wheel drive, so if you’re looking for an all-wheel-drive option, it’s simply not going to be one over time. Tota has given us additional trims in the CHR that didn’t exist at the very beginning.
So now we have a top end trim that ends about $ 26,000 they’re attempting to pit that against top in terms of the HRV and the cx-3. But it doesn’t feel quite as premium as the 6-3, both on the outside and on the inside. Although it is worth noting that even the CHR as a slightly less practical option in the HRV still feels more practical than the CHR overall handling is pretty good, it actually matches the cx-3 when it comes to overall skid pad numbers, and the overall feel is actually Quite good on the CHR as well, the CHR rides into it is brand new platform, it’s their latest design and they really have focused on handling performance and handling feel in that particular model. That’s really really obvious.
At the moment. My top picks in this segment would be the Hyundai Kona or the Honda HRV. I think the Honda HRV is a slightly better deal, but the Kona is more fun and I think it actually is a little bit better styled on the inside as well. The cx-3 comes in a close third for me, but there are a lot of caveats with the cx-3.
It is, I think, the most attractive entry in this segment. It also has one of the best feeling interiors in the segment. If you get the top-end trim and a good feature set as well, but the back seat is awfully cramped in the cargo area. Frankly is tiny, so the caveats for the CX three would be.
If you don’t need that rear seat room or you need it very. Rarely and you don’t really care too much about the cargo room, because you’re probably gon na keep those rear seats folded. Most of the time when you’re carrying larger items, then I would probably buy the cx-3 over the Honda HRV because of its overall design on the outside and on the inside. But the HRV is a better, rounded vehicle.
I think overall versus the Hyundai Kona. I really wish that the cx-3 were faster. I think that’s the big difference between it and the Kona, especially in the upper end trips. I don’t think the Kona is quite as attractive, overall or quite as well put together on the inside as the cx-3, but it is significantly faster, also handles extremely well.
So if Mazda had a sporty ER version of the cx-3 that had Kona matching performance as well as cone and matching handling, then the 6-3 would do extremely well here in this comparison. But I have to say at this point in time: it’s simply outgunned by the Hyundai. My bottom line to the cx-3 is that it is a very attractive subcompact crossover that definitely punches above its weight, and it should be on your shopping list, but not necessarily at the top of your shopping list really, depending on your priorities.