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
9.0
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New 2021 Mazda CX-30 Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 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 2021 Mazda CX-30

2021 Mazda CX-30 Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Base
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$22,050
Select
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$24,050
Preferred
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$26,450
Premium
2.5L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$28,700
Turbo
2.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$30,050
See All 2021 Mazda CX-30 Trims and Specs See All 2021 Mazda CX-30 Exterior Photos

Dimensions

  • 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

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 traditional high-rider.

Steering is tight and direct, but light enough to facilitate 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, but the steering weight remains unchanged.

Ride comfort is adequate though not luxurious, given the size of the vehicle. The rear torsion beam suspension is the lone weak point, causing the back end to go jolting into the air over large bumps and crests in the road. 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, unaggressive tires, 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.

  • 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

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.

2021 Mazda CX-30 Comparisons

Subaru Crosstrek
Honda CR-V CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Mazda CX-30191 hp26/33 mpg$22,950
Subaru Crosstrek 152 hp22/29 mpg$23,645
Honda CR-V 190 hp28/34 mpg$31,610

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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