From the outside, the 2017 Mazda CX-3 is visually appealing and hits the mark in the world of near-lookalike crossovers. Its lines are not dull, it looks both athletic and sculptured, and is sportier than most of the competition.
That’s just the outside.
What about the inside and its driving dynamics? We wanted to find out if it’s as good as it looks. This week, we have been test driving the 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD.
The Mazda CX-3 was all-new for 2016 and gets minor changes for the 2017 model year. Larger, 18-inch wheels now come on the Touring and Grand Touring that we have be riding in this week.
Features & Options
The 2017 Grand Touring AWD ($26,240) comes well equipped with a heads-up display, leather seat upholstery with suede inserts, heated front seats, LED adaptive headlights, LED foglamps and taillights, Bose seven-speaker audio, satellite radio, navigation, and automatic climate control. It comes with steering wheel paddle shifters too. The i-ActivSense ($1,170) suite of safety features offered radar cruise control, Smart City Brake support, and variable speed rain-sensing wipers.
Total MSRP including destination: $28,510.
The cabin of our Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring tester was black and white, which gave it a striking, bold look. It goes well with the tastefully laid-out dashboard, and there’s plenty of soft-touch materials throughout. The CX-3 interior has a premium look and feel. The controls are easy to use – it helps the driver when the radio controls are conveniently located on the console. We definitely appreciated the standard heads-up display, but it was not as crisp as the displays in other vehicles we’ve tested.
However, we think the cabin is a little more elegant than other small crossovers in this class.
Overall comfort is above average and visibility out the back and sides is excellent for a small crossover SUV. Interior space is decent for a vehicle this size in the front. Head, leg, and shoulder room is more than sufficient for two adults to ride all day up front. Back seat accommodations leave a little more to be desired for taller adults. For kids, it will work out just fine. The cool looking roofline outside translates to less headroom for rear passengers.
The CX-3 offers hatchback versatility and a flat cargo area with enough room for groceries and other equipment. With the rear seats up, cargo volume comes in at an acceptable 12.4 cubic feet. Rear seats fold flat to expand the area to an available 44.5 cubic feet of space. In spite of the raked rear hatch, we were able to easily load the boxes we had to transport this week.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
All Mazda CX-3 models are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission with Sport Mode. The 2.0-liter produces a modest 146 horsepower and 146 lb-ft. of torque. EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at a frugal 27/32 city/highway and 29 combined mpg with all-wheel drive.
In city traffic, the CX-3 is a joy to drive. We were able to scoot around other cars and get the small crossover into tight spots. The hatchback offers a satisfying drive in crowded streets or on the open highway. The 2.0-liter engine isn’t a powerhouse, but it has enough ponies to get the job done for small families. Where it excels is in its fun-to-drive nature, and that will make the commute go by quickly.
Mazda is known for its fun driving dynamics and the CX-3 lives up to the reputation. The attractive exterior styling translates behind the wheel. You will feel connected to the road and it inspires driving confidence. We pushed the CX-3 Grand Touring hard up I-70, into the mountains, and the small crossover responded with ample authority. We dropped it into Sport Mode and the 4-cylinder responded vigorously, willing to rev towards its 6,500-rpm limit.
For driving enthusiasts, steering wheel paddle shifters are standard on the Grand Touring, and that ramps up the fun quotient even more. The 6-speed automatic is smooth and the gear changes are almost seamless. The available all-wheel drive system improves the CX-3’s ability to maneuver nimbly through tight mountain corners, and it would be a welcome addition in cold climates.
The 2017 Mazda CX-3 is sporty, attractive, and practical for small families. It’s affordable and gets great gas mileage. The Grand Touring model ramps up the fun-to-drive meter and offers more luxury than the standard model.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy