2017 Mazda CX-3: Subcompact Crossover With Spirit [Review]

2016 Mazda CX-3
The 2017 Mazda CX-3, still one of the best subcompact crossovers you can buy. [photo: Mazda]

Mazda’s CX-3 is bigger than both the Mazda2 and the Mazda3 5-door hatchbacks, but is smaller than the Mazda CX-5 crossover. An ideally sized crossover, the Mazda CX-3 GT we tested, even as the smallest iteration of Mazda’s SKYACTIV-generation lineup, may well be one of its mightiest.


The Mazda CX-3 comes in three levels of trim: the entry-level base model CX-3 Sport; next, the core model, the mid-range CX-3 Touring; and the top-of-the-line Mazda CX-3 GT. All feature the SKYACTIV technologies found on the Mazda CX-5, Mazda6 and Mazda3, which share a similar platform, but the CX-3 is significantly smaller.

For 2017, the mid-level CX-3 Touring adopts 18-inch wheels, trickling down from the Grand Touring trim level, and the Grand Touring. The i-ACTIVSENSE package of safety features now costs less than the outgoing model. It features Mazda Radar Cruise Control, automatic Smart City Brake Support and Smart Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Control, automatic on/off headlights and rain-sensing wipers.

In addition tthere are now two option packages.

Package #1 – the Touring Premium Package: Bose audio 7-speaker sound system, Power Moonroof with one-touch open;,Sirius XM satellite radio and HD Radio; and a tonneau cover.

Package #2 – the GT i-ACTIVSENSE Package mentioned above

I spent time in a FWD version Grand Touring CX-3 with the automatic transmission. The base sticker read $24,990. The final total rose to $27,260 after factoring in options and Processing and Handling fee.

2017 Mazda CX-3
[photo: Mazda]


Power for all Mazda CX-3 variants is provided by a 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G, DOHC, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder engine with gasoline Direct Injection that delivers 146 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, while generating 146 pound feet of torque at 2,800 rpm. The engine is coupled to a SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed automatic with electronic lockup torque converter, manual shift mode and Sport mode, that gears motive energy to the front wheels or to all four wheels via Mazda’s predictive i-ACTIV AWD System.

In terms of its performance, the all-new Mazda CX-3 with its 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G 146 horsepower, four-cylinder engine delivers a gasoline engine compression ratio of 13:0:1. Would turbocharging enhance the performance? You bet, but not without sacrificing some fuel economy. The handling characteristics are crisp and sporty, with a positive on-center feel and flat, stable ride during challenging and spirited maneuvers.

2016 Mazda CX-3
[photo: Mazda]


All CX-3 models also come with MAZDA CONNECT, a seven-inch, full-color touchscreen infotainment suite that is integrated with a commander control knob and Bluetooth hands-free phone pairing and audio streaming. All 2017 CX-3s also have backup camera and push-button starter as well as power windows, power door locks and remote keyless entry.

The 2017 Mazda CX-3 will be just the right size CUV for many consumers and will serve ideally from traversing cityscapes to more adventurous landscape sojourns. The seating hits the sweet spot in a variety of ways – by providing a clear view of surroundings, by mitigating the feeling of speed (a good thing for some, for others, not so much), by eliminating the distraction of the lights of oncoming vehicles and ease of entry and exit.

TFLCAR’s TAKE: The Mazda CX-3 GT is poised to compete favorably with the other diminutive SUVs or Crossovers, let’s call then CUVs. These include the Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X and Honda HR-V. The CX-3 is without question a most desirable CUV with all the right things going for it: good looks, satisfactory performance, comfort, versatility, affordability and economical operation. Perhaps best of all, the CX-3 is a Mazda through and through, with lots of “Zoom, Zoom” DNA.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring FWD

  • Base Price: $24,990
  • Price as Tested: $27,260
  • Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G, DOHC, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder engine
  • Horsepower (bhp): 146 @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque (ft./ lbs.): 146 @ 2,800 rpm
  • Transmission: SKYACTIV Drive 6-speed automatic with electronic lockup torque converter manual shift mode and Sport mode
  • Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / FWD
  • Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson strut with twin-tube shock absorbers
  • Rear – Torsion beam with Twin-tube shock absorbers
  • Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, EBD, BA, DSC and TCS
  • Tires: Yokohama Avid S34 P215/50 R18 92V mounted on aluminum alloy wheels
  • Wheelbase: 101.2 inches
  • Length Overall: 14 feet
  • Width: 5’8″ – excluding wheel arch moldings
  • Height: 5’o.7″ – without roof rails
  • Curb Weight: 2,809 lbs
  • Turning Circle: 34.8 ft.
  • Fuel Capacity: 12.7 gallons
  • EPA Mileage Estimates: 29 mpg city / 34 mpg highway