2021 Mazda CX-30

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2021 Mazda CX-30 Test Drive Review: Boosted Fun

A year after its release, the Mazda CX-30 has 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 or Subaru Crosstrek, it stands out for its well-constructed cabin and long list of features, all available at very attractive pricing. And, 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 the USA this year, but to see what we're in for, Mazda sent us a Turbo version to get acquainted with.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 9 /10
  • Performance 9 /10
  • Fuel Economy 9 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 9 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 8 /10
  • Reliability 9 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 9 /10
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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
  • No suspension upgrades for the Turbo model

Best Deals on CX-30

2021 Mazda CX-30 Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive

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
2021 Mazda CX-30 Frontal Aspect CarBuzz
See All 2021 Mazda CX-30 Exterior Photos


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
  • Curb Weight 3,234.0 lbs

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
  • Deep Crystal Blue Mica
  • Sonic Silver Metallic
  • Soul Red Crystal Metallic
  • Machine Gray Metallic
  • Polymetal Gray Metallic

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. We wish Mazda would have leaned into the luxury direction a little further, but the CX-30 still feels more premium than many of its competitors. It's not quite on par with an Audi or BMW, but it feels somewhere in the middle.

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 CarBuzz
Honda CR-V CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Mazda CX-30186 hp25/33 mpg$22,050
Subaru Crosstrek 152 hp22/29 mpg$22,245
Honda CR-V 190 hp28/34 mpg$26,800

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

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