2019 Mazda CX-3

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2019 Mazda CX-3 Test Drive Review: Compact Chic

The subcompact crossover segment has become the arena in which every manufacturer wants a slice of the pie - it is, after all, one of the quickest growing pies of all automotive segments. It's also the field in which automakers can afford to do something unique, whether it's alien styling, hot performance, or in the case of the Mazda CX-3, giving a subcompact crossover enough luxury to trouble truly niche premium brands and products like the Mini Countryman. At a shade over $20,000, the CX-3 is also Mazda's cheapest offering in the United States, but that doesn't mean they've held back, pairing the Kodo: Soul of Motion exterior design language with an interior that has more than just a whiff of Audi sophistication. We got behind the wheel of the top-spec CX-3 Grand Touring for a week to see whether, in a world of turbocharged corner-cutting, Mazda's 2.0-liter naturally aspirated crossover could cut the mustard in a segment hotly contested with the likes of the Hyundai Kona and Honda HR-V.

Read in this review:

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2019 Mazda CX-3 Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2018 CX-3?

Mazda has thrown quite a few changes and improvements at the CX-3 for the 2019 model year, keeping an already top-class competitor even fresher. Incorporating improved materials, sound insulation, and newly available full-leather seating, the CX-3 now offers a more refined drive. A new fully electronic parking brake has been fitted, which allows Mazda to have reworked the center console and armrest for enhanced storage. The front seats have been redesigned and there is a new rear armrest with cupholders. Outside, the 2019 CX-3 has a revised front grille, new taillights, and new wheels. Safety has taken a step up, with a new tire pressure monitoring system and blind-spot monitoring standard from the entry-level trim. The new Sport i-ActiveSense Package adds a full suite of safety gear. Power has increased marginally, with the 2.0-liter engine producing two horsepower more than before.

Pros and Cons

  • Improved standard and optional safety features
  • Genuinely fun to drive thanks to quick steering and a nimble chassis
  • Comfortable ride quality for a small car
  • Clean and smart interior design
  • Top-quality materials used in the cabin
  • Good blend of power and economy for city driving
  • Smart, classy looks for a compact crossover
  • Poor rear legroom
  • Mediocre cargo capacity
  • Lack of turbocharging shows at higher speeds
  • Engine isn't the quietest
  • Automatic gearbox behaves sluggishly

What's the Price of the 2019 Mazda CX-3?

The cheapest trim is the Sport, with an MSRP of $20,390. The mid-range Touring costs $22,475 and the fully-loaded Grand Touring is $25,745. These prices exclude tax, licensing, registration, and a destination charge of $1,045. All-wheel-drive is available on all trims at an additional $1,400.

Best Deals on 2019 Mazda CX-3

2019 Mazda CX-3 Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
Grand Touring
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2019 Mazda CX-3 Trims and Specs

2019 CX-3 Exterior

2019 Mazda CX-3 Side View Mazda
2019 Mazda CX-3 Side View 1 Mazda
2019 Mazda CX-3 Rear View Mazda
See All 2019 Mazda CX-3 Exterior Photos


  • Length 168.3 in
  • Wheelbase 101.2 in
  • Height 60.7 in
  • Max Width 69.6 in
  • Front Width 60.0 in
  • Rear Width 59.9 in
  • Curb Weight 2,809.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Jet Black Mica
  • Deep Crystal Blue Mica
  • Titanium Flash Mica
  • Eternal Blue Mica
  • Ceramic Metallic
  • Snowflake White Pearl
  • Soul Red Crystal Metallic
  • Machine Gray Metallic

2019 CX-3 Performance

2019 Mazda CX-3 Side View Driving Mazda
2019 Mazda CX-3 Taillights Mazda
2019 Mazda CX-3 Wheel Mazda

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine
    2.0L Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

While the option might exist for all-wheel-drive, unless you live in a state frequently visited by Jack Frost, we'd avoid the option. The front-wheel-drive models are more than good enough at dealing with the available power, and the chassis is simply one of the best in the subcompact segment. It's easy to forget the CX-3 is a crossover, as, truth told, the 6.1 inches of ground clearance is barely more than hatchback status, and the way the CX-3 behaves is nothing like a traditional crossover.

The steering is beautifully weighted, feels fluid, and points the front end exactly where you want it. And while there isn't much feedback, the linearity of responses and the keenness to change direction are more than fair compensation. There's an abundance of grip from the front end too, and if you can look past the slow gearbox and hustle the CX-3 down a twisty road, you'll be amazed at the balance and poise provided by the chassis.

It's largely down to the suspension setup, which absorbs all but the largest bumps with aplomb while dealing with mid-corner abrasions as if they were barely even there. It affords some playfulness, too, with little tastes of lift-off oversteer for the enthusiastic driver. The brakes are good, too, but they lack feel. However, they'll stop consistently quick and take all the abuse standard road use should send their way.

The ride is super-refined as well, with noises from the outside environment kept at bay incredibly well. But unfortunately, so is the view of much of the outside world, as the large B and C pillars create fairly sizable blind spots, making the CX-3 feel larger on the road than it is.

2019 CX-3 Interior

2019 Mazda CX-3 Dashboard Mazda
2019 Mazda CX-3 Gear Shifter Mazda
2019 Mazda CX-3 Steering Wheel Mazda
See All 2019 Mazda CX-3 Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 41.7 in
  • Front Head Room 38.4 in
  • Rear Leg Room 35.0 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.2 in

2019 CX-3 Trunk and Cargo Space

2019 Mazda CX-3 Trunk Space Mazda
2019 Mazda CX-3 Trunk Space 1 Mazda
2019 Mazda CX-3 Trunk Space 2 Mazda

2019 CX-3 Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the 2019 Mazda CX-3 A Good SUV?

Crossovers are appealing for a number of reasons, chief of which are the increased ride height and increased practicality afforded by a larger vehicle. Both of these are areas in which the CX-3 falls short, with ride height no greater than a regular subcompact hatch and extremely limited cargo space, as well as limited rear passenger space. It's no more than a hatchback with some wheel arch cladding giving it the title of 'faux by four'. But forget about the classification and enjoy the CX-3 for what it is, and you'll find there's much to love. Safety is top-notch, and the best features are at least available on base trims, the driving dynamics are superb, and the interior feels like it belongs in the premium segment, not in something that costs less than $30,000. It's a frugal runner, too, and the levels of available specification are excellent. But the automatic gearbox is a letdown, the limited cabin and cargo space a deal-breaker for small families, and the lack of smartphone integration a very sore point. The CX-3 is a wonderful car, but it's best enjoyed by someone who enjoys living a solitary life enjoying the finer things, without having to pay all that much for them.

What Mazda CX-3 Model Should I Buy?

It's tempting to jump headlong into buying the Grand Touring model we had on test, as it's a fully-loaded premium offering right off the showroom floor, and frankly, that's how we'd spend our money. Opting for a mid-spec Touring and adding on options packages to achieve the same level of spec ends up being pricier, and you don't get full leather seats or LED headlights that come standard on the Grand Touring. We'd choose Soul Red for the exterior color - there really doesn't need to be any other available color choice in our minds - and forego the optional Premium package, as the manual seats are fine, the heated steering is unnecessary, and the auto-dimming rearview mirror can be added as a standalone option. As for all-wheel-drive, unless you live in a snow-prone area, it's not worth the extra outlay.

2019 Mazda CX-3 Comparisons

Mazda CX-5 Mazda
Subaru Crosstrek Subaru
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Mazda CX-3148 hp29/34 mpg$20,790
Mazda CX-5 187 hp24/30 mpg$26,700
Subaru Crosstrek 152 hpTBC$24,995

2019 Mazda CX-3 vs Mazda CX-5

While the CX-3 could easily be mistaken for a regular hatchback, there will be no such misjudgments with the larger CX-5. Starting at $4,000 more than the CX-3, the CX-5 immediately atones for the CX-3's major shortcomings by offering more rear-seat space and over double the amount of cargo space, which is significant. The underpowered base engine aside, the CX-5 has the option of a 250-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder that comfortably outperforms the CX-3. Both have smart interiors that feel more premium than you'd expect, but the CX-5 also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with both smartphone integrations missing from the CX-3. Both SUVs are among the most fun to drive in their respective segments, with sharp steering setting these Mazda twins apart from the pack. With its extra space and much larger trunk, the CX-5 is the better SUV, but if you'll be using the back seat for little more than extra storage space, the CX-3 remains a compelling little crossover.

See Mazda CX-5 Review

2019 Mazda CX-3 vs Subaru Crosstrek

An interesting foil to the Mazda CX-3, the Subaru Crosstrek edges closer to the traditional SUV experience, with a raised ride height making it not only look like the more rugged option, but also giving it an edge over the CX-3 when not driving on smooth tarmac. Also more SUV-like is the Crosstrek's cargo capacity, which at over 20 cubic feet comfortably outclasses the CX-3's puny offering. The Subaru is also better for carrying passengers in the back. However, the Mazda fights back with a far more engaging driving experience, outpacing the Subaru in a straight line and when the road gets twisty. The Crosstrek is found wanting with its sluggish 152-hp engine. Although the Crosstrek's cabin is a pleasant enough affair, the CX-3 looks and feels more premium. If you want some actual SUV versatility and space, the Crosstrek takes this easily, but if you prefer your SUV to offer an experience that's more car-like, the CX-3 wins.

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