2018 CX-3 New Car Test Drive
The 2018 Mazda CX-3 has been significantly improved over the 2017 version of the subcompact crossover. It's nothing you can see, and it's not easy for a manufacturer to hype, but a number of updates improve the car: new suspension bushings, control arms, engine mounts and more sound-deadening material. Such improvements occur year after year, with Mazda, and many updates go unreported.
The CX-3, built on the platform of the subcompact Mazda 2, was introduced for 2016, and has sold well. It's sporty, attractive, practical, affordable, economical, and fun to drive.
The CX-3 is front-wheel drive, with available all-wheel drive.
It uses one powertrain, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. With a modest 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque, it manages to deliver enthusiasm and energy not often found in the crossover SUV world, while bringing EPA-rated mileage of 31 Combined miles per gallon, among the best in its class. Its top rival might be the Honda HR-V, which gets similar mileage. Another competitor, the Chevrolet Trax, gets similar mileage, as well.
The CX-3 gets top crash ratings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with five stars overall, including for frontal and side impacts (four stars for rollover). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CX-3 its top Good ratings in each test, naming it a Top Safety Pick Plus.
For the top CX-3 Grand Touring model, there is an available group of active safety features, including lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, adaptive headlights, automatic emergency braking, and rain-sensing wipers. It's called i-ActivSense, and is affordably priced.
Mazda CX-3 Sport ($19,960) includes air conditioning, Mazda Connect infotainment with a 7-inch touchscreen, rearview camera, cruise control, power windows/locks, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, keyless start, and Bluetooth streaming audio and phone connectivity. Six airbags are standard.
Front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive is available for all models ($1,250). (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
CX-3 Touring ($21,960) adds blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, six-speaker sound, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated mirrors. An optional Tech Package includes premium Bose audio, a panoramic moonroof, satellite radio, HD radio, and a cargo cover.
Grand Touring ($24,990) comes with paddle shifters, a head-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. The i-ActivSense is optional ($1,170).