2021 Mazda CX-30

2021 Mazda CX-30 Review: Turbocharged Fun

A year after its release, the Mazda CX-30 has certainly made a splash in the US market. It fills a gap that many never knew needed filling, between the CX-3 and slightly larger CX-5. It does this by offering more space and practicality than its smaller sibling while still retaining its classification as a subcompact crossover. Going up against rivals like the Ford EcoSport and Subaru Crosstrek, it stands out for its well-constructed cabin and long list of features, all available at very attractive pricing. While it may have lost some fans to turbo-powered rivals last year, the 2021 CX-30 now offers a 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine with 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque, making an already sporty looking and well-handling SUV that much more enticing. We expect the latest iteration of this spunky crossover to be even more popular in 2021.

New 2021 Mazda CX-30 Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 CX-30?

While most of the changes for the new year have been minor, Mazda has delighted fans with the announcement that the CX-30 will be receiving the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the popular Mazda 3, though they may have to wait a bit since it's only scheduled to debut at the end of the year. It comes equipped to the new 2.5 Turbo trims, developing a maximum of 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. This new Mazda CX-30 model will be available in three trim levels, and also gets some new safety features, traffic sign recognition, traffic jam assist, and an available surround-view camera. But the standard range receives some updates, too, with the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on every model.

Pros and Cons

  • Newly available Turbo models
  • Engaging driving dynamics
  • Handsome exterior design
  • Well-constructed interior
  • Ample cargo space
  • Attractive pricing for the segment
  • Base engine is still underwhelming
  • Rear passenger legroom is still a bit restrictive
  • Not everyone is a fan of the rotary infotainment controls
  • Little room to customize, both in terms of tech and colors

Best Deals on 2021 Mazda CX-30

2021 Mazda CX-30 Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Base
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$21,900
Select
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$23,900
Preferred
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$26,300
Premium
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$28,550
Turbo
2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$29,900

Mazda CX-30 Exterior

Mazda seems to have mastered the art of designing cars that appeal to the masses, and the CX-30, as one of the newest models, is a fine example of this. Sleek curves abound, with large wheel arches that house 16-inch alloy wheels on the base trim and 18-inch variants on the rest. The front fascia is dominated by a large pentagonal grille, finished in matte on the 2.5 S and gloss black on the upper trims. Thin automatic LED headlights border the grille, supplemented by LED daytime running lights, and complemented by signature LED taillights on the top trims. Rear privacy glass is added from the Select upwards, while the Preferred adds a power-sliding moonroof, and the Premium rounds things out with a power liftgate, roof rails, and a shark fin antenna. The 2.5 Turbo trims will deviate slightly from this aesthetic to advertise its stronger performance. The 18-inch wheels are coated in black, as are the side mirrors. It also gets larger tailpipes and bespoke badging on the tailgate.

2021 Mazda CX-30 Front View CarBuzz
2021 Mazda CX-30 Rear View CarBuzz
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Dimensions

Slotting between the CX-3 and the larger CX-5, the Mazda CX-30 is a well-proportioned subcompact. An overall length of 173 inches makes it ideal for the urban environment, while a 104.4-inch wheelbase creates surprisingly a spacious cabin. With the mirrors folded down, it measures 70.7 inches in width. Height varies a little bit between the trim levels, starting at 61.7 inches on the 2.5 S, and increasing to 62.2 inches from the 2.5 Preferred up. Ground clearance is standard at eight inches, so you can take it off-road in a pinch. Curb weight ranges from 3,234 pounds to 3,388 lbs, depending on the drivetrain selected.

  • Length 173.0 in
  • Wheelbase 104.4 in
  • Height 61.7 in
  • Max Width 70.7 in
  • Front Width 61.6 in
  • Rear Width 61.6 in

Exterior Colors

Mazda does not offer the most extensive choice of paint colors when it comes to customizing your ride. A total of seven are presented across the range, with the entry-level 2.5 S only getting access to Jet Black Mica for free, with Snowflake White Pearl Mica adding $395 to the bill. Most of the remaining paints are unlocked when you upgrade to the Select. Additional no-cost colors include Sonic Silver Metallic and Deep Crystal Blue Mica. For $495, you can opt for Machine Gray Metallic, but if the photos of the CX-30 are anything to go by, most shoppers will want the $595 option - Soul Red Crystal Metallic, which certainly bolsters the sporty image of the little crossover. The final color is Polymetal Gray Metallic, which is made available from the Premium upwards.

  • Snowflake White Pearl Mica
  • Jet Black Mica
  • Sonic Silver Metallic
  • Soul Red Crystal Metallic
  • Machine Gray Metallic
  • Deep Crystal Blue Mica
  • Polymetal Gray Metallic

Mazda CX-30 Performance

In the past, the Mazda CX-30 has struggled to keep up with some of the competition. This is because it has been restricted to the use of a plain old four-cylinder engine with only 186 hp and 186 lb-ft. Paired with either FWD or AWD, this is only enough to get the subcompact from 0 to 60 mph in around eight seconds, according to independent test drive reports. This is on par with similarly powered rivals, like the Ford EcoSport, but falls far short of what turbo-powered competitors are reporting. Top speed maxes out at around 126 mph.

We know that the new 2.5 Turbo model will have a turbocharged four-pot with 250 hp and 320 lb-ft, but the automaker has not yet divulged how this will affect the vehicle's performance or how much quicker its sprint time will be. We can speculate, though, by looking at the similarly sized Hyundai Kona, which uses its turbo engine to benchmark a 0-60 mph time of around six seconds. The new power plant will be available with AWD only, but it gets the same six-speed automatic transmission as the standard engine. While the auto hasn't disappointed us in the past, let's hope that it is up to the task of managing so much extra power smoothly.

2021 Mazda CX-30 View Out Back CarBuzz
2021 Mazda CX-30 Rear Angle View CarBuzz
2021 Mazda CX-30 Engine Bay CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

The base engine under the hood of the Mazda CX-30 remains the same 2.5-liter four-pot that debuted last year. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, it develops 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque for the front wheels as standard. Every trim level can upgrade to the all-wheel drivetrain for $1,400. Overall, the powertrain is still capable, with smooth power delivery, but it will feel quite bland if you take the brand-new 2.5 Turbo for a test drive first.

The new top-tier Turbo receives a 2.5L turbocharged four-pot, which finally gives the CX-30 the kind of power that its rivals taunted it with last year. When burning regular gasoline, it develops 227 hp and 310 lb-ft, but this is boosted to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft if you don't mind paying for premium. The same six-speed auto does duty here, but AWD is the only option. Whatever complaints buyers might have had about the Mazda's performance will quickly be silenced the moment you feel the engine thrum to life and launch the subcompact past slower cars on the highway.

  • Engines
    2.5L Inline-4 Gas, 2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Constructed on the frame of the sporty Mazda 3, the CX-30 handles more like a car than a burly SUV, which is not all that surprising, considering its tight subcompact dimensions. Naturally, it rides higher than a sedan or hatchback, which gives the driver better visibility and more confidence. Still, its small size and sleek design allow it to be more playful than a traditionally blocky high-rider.

Steering is light at lower speeds around town, facilitating nimble maneuvers when you need to snag that last parking spot at the mall. Pick up some speed and it gains a little heft, though feedback remains limited. Selecting Sport mode from the drive options tightens up throttle responses to turn up the fun level of the CUV.

Ride comfort is adequate though not luxurious, given the size of the vehicle. But wind and road noise are well managed without needing to turn the sound system up to full blast. The available all-wheel drivetrain is great for slippery road conditions, but given the limited ground clearance and overall city-friendly design of the CX-30, it is not advised that you take it off-road, even though the i-Activ system does include off-road traction assist.

We are certainly looking forward to getting our hands on a turbo-powered version of the Mazda, and highly recommend you take one for a spin if you get the chance. Given the impressive handling dynamics of the small crossover, and how much fun it can be with the base engine, the 2.5 Turbo is bound to be a truly enjoyable variant.

CX-30 Gas Mileage

Small SUVs boast pretty good gas mileage figures, and the CX-30 is on par with rivals in terms of economy. In its base FWD guise, it returns an EPA-estimated 25/33/28 miles per gallon across the city/highway/combined cycles. Naturally, upgrading to the optional all-wheel drivetrain sees these figures drop nominally to 24/31/26 mpg. Unfortunately, the results of the turbo engine's tests have not yet been announced. We don't expect it to be all that less efficient than the standard four-pot, though. The regular FWD models receive a 13.5-gallon fuel tank, while AWD variants get a smaller 12.7-gallon tank. This allows them to roam for 378 miles and 330 miles, respectively.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 25/33 mpg
* 2021 Mazda CX-30 Base FWD

Mazda CX-30 Interior

Not to be mistaken for the cheaper CX-3, the slightly larger subcompact has a far more spacious interior, which includes better choices of materials, smarter design, and a more satisfying overall feel. The controls for the extensive array of features are laid out with ergonomic precision, and interacting with the knobs and buttons is gratifying. This more hands-on philosophy extends to the infotainment suite, since Mazda has opted to stick with rotary controls so that drivers are not distracted by finicky touchscreen interactions. Naturally the tech gets better as you move through the trim levels, but even the base model boasts a decent list of safety features and a pleasing sound system. Those in the back will have little to complain about with such entertainment, and there is more than enough room to go around.

2021 Mazda CX-30 Dashboard CarBuzz
2021 Mazda CX-30 Steering Wheel CarBuzz
2021 Mazda CX-30 Driver Seat CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

There is seating for up to five inside the seemingly small CUV, but if you're carpooling your coworkers, we'd suggest sticking to a maximum of four adults. However, the legroom in the rear isn't quite so generous that you'd want to be stuck back there over longer journeys. Headroom is ample throughout, but there isn't an abundance of shoulder room, so you may bump elbows with your front seat passenger from time to time. Until you get up to the Preferred trim, you will have to settle for manually adjustable seats. Thereafter, you get an eight-way power driver's seat. Both front seats are heated from this point on, too. Overall visibility is excellent, thanks to large windows and the high riding height of the crossover.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.7 in
  • Front Head Room 38.1 in
  • Rear Leg Room 36.3 in
  • Rear Head Room 38.3 in

Interior Colors and Materials

While not all Mazdas are premium machines, even the most affordable never feel as cheap as they are. Sure, you'll find hard plastics around the cabin on the 2.5 S, and the steering wheel and gear shifter are low-budget urethane, but the build quality is excellent. The seats are upholstered in basic cloth, offered only in Black. Leatherette becomes the norm inside the Select and Preferred trims. The former is still restricted to Black, but the latter can choose Greige for a softer color scheme. The shifter and steering wheel receive an upgrade at this price point too, wrapping the steering wheel and shifter is in more pleasing leather. The upper-tier Premium upgrades to genuine leather and, while Black is still a staple color choice, it adds classy White leather to the options list. The new 2.5 Turbo will be offered in three trim levels: standard, Premium, and Premium Plus. Each Turbo adds chrome finishes around the cabin to announce its sportier aspirations.

Mazda CX-30 Trunk and Cargo Space

The small crossover offers decent practicality for its size, but it won't impress shoppers who have been inside one of the popular midsizers on the market. Still, 20.2 cubic feet of standard cargo space should be enough for most daily needs. You are unlikely to run out of space when doing the weekly grocery shopping, and even larger suitcases can be stowed in the back without fuss. Of course, if you do need a little extra room, you can fold down the rear seats in a 60/40 split to create even more cargo capacity. Notable strengths in the loading bay include a low floor height and a power liftgate on the top-line models.

Small-item storage is par for the course in a family-oriented high-rider. A pair of cupholders come standard up front, with another pair added in the back on the Select. These can be used to stow water bottles or smaller items like mobile phones. Each of the four door pockets also come equipped with a water bottle holder, and the front seats offer seatback pockets. There is a standard glove compartment and the front console offers several small bins, while an overhead console is added when you upgrade to the Preferred.

2021 Mazda CX-30 Rear Passenger Seats CarBuzz
2021 Mazda CX-30 Cargo Room CarBuzz
2021 Mazda CX-30 Trunk Space CarBuzz

Mazda CX-30 Infotainment and Features

Features

The list of features on the CX-30 starts off pretty basic, but it quickly grows to rival that of far more expensive competitors. The 2.5 S is relatively bare-bones, sticking to the essentials like air conditioning, keyless ignition, a 12-volt power outlet, and basic driver-assistance tech such as a rearview camera, cruise control, driver attention alert, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning. The Select bolsters this with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, while upgrading to automatic dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, and added advanced keyless entry. Most of the upgrades on the Preferred are focused on comfort, with the addition of heated front seats, an eight-way power driver's seat, and a power moonroof. Near the top of the range, the Premium expands the driver aids with traffic sign recognition and a head-up active driving display. It also adds paddle shifters for a more hands-on driving experience. The Turbo Premium Plus will get all of this along with reverse smart brake support, rear cross-traffic braking, traffic jam assist, front and rear parking sensors, and a surround-view camera.

Infotainment

Mazda decided to go back to the basics when it comes to infotainment. There is a large 8.8-inch display in the upper dashboard, but it does not offer touchscreen interaction. Instead, users navigate the functions using a smartly designed dial on the center console or via the voice command system. This grants access to HD Radio, Pandora, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The standard sound system comprises eight speakers with Mazda Harmonic Acoustics. The only upgrades to this setup come in at the Premium level, where Sirius XM and navigation expand the basic functions, and a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system replaces the standard offering. Charging of smart devices is facilitated by a pair of USB ports, but you can opt on a wireless charging pad.

Mazda CX-30 Problems and Reliability

J.D. Power's reliability review of the Mazda CX-30 sees it earning an impressive overall score of 82 out of 100. However, it is by no means a perfect vehicle, since it saw two recalls issued in 2020. The first was for loose bolts on the front brake calipers, while the second was for a disconnected vent hose that may cause a fuel leak.

The warranty plan is pretty average in comparison to competitors like the Hyundai Kona. It comprises three years/36,000 miles of limited coverage and five years/60,000 miles of powertrain coverage, as opposed to the ten-year/100,000-mile warranty offered by the aforementioned competition. Roadside assistance is available, 27/4 for the duration of the limited warranty.

Warranty

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

Mazda CX-30 Safety

Safety reviews for the CX-30 are quite superb. The NHTSA gives it an overall rating of five stars, and only the rollover crash test returned a less than perfect score of four stars. The IIHS similarly awarded the Mazda CX-30 a rating of Good in every single category, as well as its coveted Top Safety Pick status. It is worth mentioning that this only applies to models equipped with the top-tier headlights.

US NHTSA crash test result

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

Key Safety Features

Even the base-model CX-30 gets a fair number of standard safety features. Naturally, it has ABS, EBD, traction and stability control, as well as a set of eight airbags: dual front, front side, front knee, and side curtain. More advanced features include a rearview camera, smart brake support, driver attention alert, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning. Moving up through trim levels adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, traffic jam assist, and an active driving display. At the top-tier, you are offered the option of adding a surround-view camera.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Mazda CX-30 a good car?

Mazda added the CX-30 to its lineup to meet a specific need within the market. It is targeted at shoppers who want more utility and space than a smaller CX-3 provides, but who also don't need as much as what the CX-5 offers (or who simply can't afford it). But being affordable doesn't mean cheap, especially when it comes to Mazda.

The subcompact is remarkably well-appointed, with enough passenger and cargo space for a budding family. High-quality materials are used throughout, and comfort is always fore of thought. The Japanese automaker hasn't gone overboard with the tech, which helps to keep the price down, but all the essentials are included and the safety suite is comprehensive.

While it does offer all-wheel-drive, it is not a rugged off-roader like some of the competition. Instead, it feels at home around town, delivering a lively but comfortable driving experience. For fans who fell in love with the Mazda 3 hatchback, but who also want to move with the times and get a high-rider, the CX-30 is less of a compromise and more of an upgrade.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Mazda CX-30?

Although there have been some updates to the standard features across the range, they were minor and did not affect the price of the Mazda CX-30 for the new year. The entry-level 2.5 S carries a base price of $21,900, while the Select asks for $23,900. The now mid-tier Preferred goes on sale for $26,300, and the Premium raises the stakes to $28,550. Each of these models can be equipped with an all-wheel drivetrain by adding $1,400 to the bill. This is already included on the all-new 2.5 Turbo which starts at $29,900. It can also be upgraded to the Turbo Premium for an additional $2,400 or to the exclusive Premium Plus, which has the highest base price of $33,900. These are MSRP figures and do not include tax, registration, licensing, or Mazda's $1,100 destination charge.

2021 Mazda CX-30 Models

There will be seven models for the Mazda CX-30 in the USA this year. The 2.5 S, Select, Preferred, and Premium carry over mostly unchanged, but the 2.5 Turbo is a brand-new addition to the lineup, which is also presented as the Turbo Premium or Turbo Premium Plus. The established trims have a 2.5L four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic that develops 186 hp and 186 lb-ft. It is available in either FWD or AWD configurations. The new Turbo keeps the gearbox but upgrades to a 2.5L turbocharged inline-four that develops 250 hp and 320 lb-ft for all four wheels only.

At the entry level, the crossover rides on 16-inch alloy wheels and is equipped with LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights, along with rain-sensing wipers. Cloth fabric dresses the interior, while manual air conditioning regulates it. Features include cruise control, push-button start, and basic safety tech such as a driver attention system, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and a rearview camera. The infotainment comprises an 8.8-inch display, HD Radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth, channeled through an eight-speaker sound system.

With the Select Package equipped, the CX-30 upgrades to 18-inch alloy wheels on the outside, and leatherette upholstery inside. Other upgrades include automatic dual-zone climate control with rear vents, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter.

The Preferred installs a power moonroof and an eight-way power driver's seat with memory settings. It also adds heating functionality to both front seats, and installs an overhead console.

The penultimate Premium trades out the standard taillights for signature variants, while adding a shark fin antenna, roof rails, and a power liftgate. Inside, the steering wheel gains paddle shifters, the seats are dressed in leather, and the infotainment is bolstered with SiriusXM, navigation, and a new 12-speaker Bose premium sound system. A windshield-projected active driving display makes it easier to monitor car information and driving aids, which now include traffic sign recognition.

The Turbo is equipped with all the standard features of the Preferred, though it boasts a sportier exterior with 18-inch black alloy wheels, gloss black mirror caps, and larger tailpipes.

The Turbo Premium naturally adds the extra features found on the regular Premium, paired with the Turbo engine.

The Premium Plus is a trim level that is unique to the Turbo. It gets access to brand-new i-Activesense features, including reverse smart brake support and rear cross-traffic braking. It also receives traffic jam assist, a surround-view camera, and front and rear parking sensors.

See All 2021 Mazda CX-30 Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The CX-30 has been separated into distinct trim levels to ensure that every buyer is accommodated, and Mazda is so sure that it has perfected each model that there are almost no customization options to spec your vehicle differently. However, there are still some independent add-ons available, such as a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror ($275), illuminated door sills ($425), a wireless charging pad ($275), or an interior lighting kit ($230). Several cargo management add-ons are available, as well as all-weather floor mats, and a couple of roof rack adjustments.

🚗What Mazda CX-30 Model Should I Buy?

The CX-30 is a great deal, no matter which trim you opt for. Even the base model is well-equipped, especially with the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across the range. However, the new turbocharged engine on the 2.5 Turbo models is an extremely tempting proposition. Unfortunately, these models are significant;y more expensive, starting at around $30,000, so they may not suit every wallet.

If you are on a tighter budget, the mid-tier Preferred would be a great place to start, and you can build on it with navigation and the wireless charging pad, and still have some cash left over for one of the premium paint options without the cost of your Mazda CX-30 breaking the $30k mark.

2021 Mazda CX-30 Comparisons

Subaru Crosstrek Subaru
Honda CR-V CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Mazda CX-30186 hp25/33 mpg$21,900
Subaru Crosstrek 152 hp22/29 mpg$22,145
Honda CR-V 190 hp28/34 mpg$25,350

2021 Mazda CX-30 vs Subaru Crosstrek

While the CX-30 is modern and sporty, the Crosstrek looks more like a rugged off-roader shrunk down to subcompact proportions. However, the Subaru's entry-spec engine is even less powerful than the base CX-30, developing only 152 hp and 145 lb-ft, and it looks pitiful beside the newly available turbocharged engine in the 2.5 Turbo. The Crosstrek can feel more engaging to drive at times, thanks to its manual gearbox, but the optional CVT is less impressive. However, it is more economical, with mileage returns of 28/33/30 mpg. Despite having a higher starting price than the Mazda, the Subaru doesn't feel it on the inside. Both subcompacts are outfitted with a decent list of features, though, and they match each other almost perfectly on cargo space. Still, the Mazda CX-30 seems like the smarter choice, with better overall appeal, and an available turbocharged engine, if you are willing to dole out some extra dough.

See Subaru Crosstrek Review

2021 Mazda CX-30 vs Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is one of the most popular midsize SUVs in the USA, so it is hard for the CX-30 to compete with it. An extra ten inches of length means that it offers loads more cargo capacity - 39.2 cubic feet in total behind the rear seats - and more comfortable rear-seat passenger accommodations. However, the new turbocharged four-pot on the Mazda gives it loads more power than the 190 hp developed by the 1.5L turbo on the CR-V, and the smaller crossover handles far more gracefully. In terms of tech, the two are almost neck-and-neck, so what it really comes down to is whether or not you need the extra space. The Honda has a more expensive starting price of $25,350, but you'll need to pay over $30k to get the CX-30 2.5 Turbo. Still, if you have smaller children and don't need the extra trunk space, the Mazda seems like the more pleasing purchase.

See Honda CR-V Review

Mazda CX-30 Popular Comparisons

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Photos
$21,900 - $33,900
Price Range (MSRP)
Mazda CX-30