2017 Mazda CX-3

Starting MSRP: $19,960 - $26,240

Estimated MPG: 29 city / 34 hwy

2017 Mazda CX-3 Review

There's a growing market for subcompact crossovers, and the 2017 Mazda CX-3 shines as one of the segment's most capable and appealing picks. It provides enjoyable handling, strong fuel economy and a cabin whose upscale design cues belie the CX-3's modest price point. Look to the Mazda CX-3 for a compelling mix of driver engagement and value.

By Warren Clarke
Last Updated 02/10/2017

The 2017 Mazda CX-3 is a subcompact crossover providing seating for five passengers. All models come with a 2.0-liter engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available, and the CX-3 is sold in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trims.

For 2017, the Mazda CX-3's Touring trim gains 18-inch wheels.

Exterior

Exterior
9

With its long hood and muscular haunches, the 2017 Mazda CX-3 looks ready for action. Our CX-3 Grand Touring test vehicle came in Crystal White Pearl Mica, and the color served as an attractive contrast for the black cladding on the vehicle's fenders and pillars. With its sleek surfaces and chiseled lines, our CX-3 looked modern and capable.

In front, the CX-3's wide grille is flanked by standard halogen headlights and daytime running lights. The crossover cuts a sleek and fit figure from the side, and the view from this angle offers a glimpse at the CX-3's standard body-colored door handles and power-adjustable side mirrors. Base models ride on 16-inch alloy wheels, and a rear window wiper is visible from the back.

A standard roof spoiler adds sporty flair, and all models are equipped with a shark-fin antenna. You can upgrade your CX-3 with 18-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, a power sunroof, fog lights and LED headlights and taillights.

Interior

Interior
8

Without a doubt, cabin design is one of the 2017 Mazda CX-3's key strengths. Our Grand Touring model featured handsome leather-trimmed upholstery with Lux Suede inserts, and we loved the bold black, white and gray color scheme. The overall look of our test vehicle's cabin was clean and elegant. Fit and finish was superb, and the vehicle's interior had an upscale, near-luxury feel.

On a less positive note, the CX-3's subcompact footprint brings some compromises when it comes to spaciousness. Front-row passengers enjoy supportive seating and a decent amount of room, but taller passengers traveling in the second row will likely feel pinched for space. The lower half of the crossover's front seatbacks help alleviate this shortcoming to a degree by curving inward to accommodate intruding knees.

Things are also somewhat cramped when it comes to cargo capacity. Behind the second row, the Mazda CX-3 offers a meager 12.4 cubic feet for your belongings, and lowering the crossover's standard 60/40-split folding rear seats expands this figure to 44.5 cubic feet. Grand Touring models like our test vehicle offer even less room, since this trim comes with a Bose sound system with a trunk-mounted subwoofer that reduces capacity to 10.1 cubic with the rear seat in place and 42.3 cubic feet with these seats lowered. Rivals such as the Jeep Renegade offer 18.5 cubic feet behind the second row and 50.8 cubic feet of maximum capacity.

The base CX-3 comes with cloth upholstery, a six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column and power windows and door locks. Higher trims add amenities such as heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leatherette or leather-trimmed upholstery and automatic climate control.

Performance

Performance
9

The 2017 Mazda CX-3 comes standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available on all three trims. A six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode changes the gears. All models are equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine the generates 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque.

Fuel economy for front-wheel drive models stands at 29/34 mpg city/highway, while all-wheel-drive models get 27/32 mpg. These are excellent numbers. For comparison, the Honda HR-V gets 28/34 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive.

Our test CX-3 delivered quick acceleration and precise handling, and it made every commute a pleasurable experience. This is a crossover for people who like to relish the driving experience. Ride quality was gracious and pleasant, and our CX-3 had a lively and energetic spirit that lifted our mood every time we got behind the wheel.

Technology

Technology
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The 2017 Mazda CX-3 comes with a strong complement of technology features. Base models are equipped with a 7-inch touch screen, voice command functionality, a USB port, an auxiliary input jack, text message audio delivery and reply, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system. Grand Touring models like our test vehicle add navigation, satellite and HD radio and a Bose seven-speaker sound system.

Our CX-3 Grand Touring's navigation system was simple to use, but we weren't too impressed with its graphics, which seemed less colorful and engaging that those presented in rival models. Our crossover featured a head-up display that made it easy for us to keep track of our speed during a weekend trek that had us spending a couple of hours on the freeway. The optional Bose stereo was a delight, with crisp highs and booming lows.

Safety

Safety
9

In tests carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2017 Mazda CX-3 earned a perfect five-star overall rating for crashworthiness.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the CX-3 a top rating of Good in all crash test evaluations, and the crossover was awarded a Top Safety Pick+ designation. The 2017 Mazda CX-3 also earned a Superior rating from the IIHS for its crash avoidance and mitigation technology.

All CX-3 models are equipped with a rearview camera, antilock brakes, stability control and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Touring models add blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and Grand Touring models add adaptive headlights. Grand Touring models may be equipped with an i-Activesense package that adds active safety features such as forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

The Honda HR-V and many other choices in this segment offer a more limited range of active safety technology than the CX-3. This fact makes the Mazda a compelling purchase if safety is a priority.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The base-model 2017 Mazda CX-3 Sport starts at $19,960, excluding a $940 destination fee. Touring models start at $21,960, and add features such as heated side mirrors, 18-inch wheels, leatherette upholstery and blind spot monitoring. The range-topping Grand Touring ups the ante by throwing in navigation and leather-trimmed upholstery, and pricing kicks off at $24,990. For an extra $1,250, you can add all-wheel drive to any of these trims.

Our Grand Touring test vehicle featured the i-Activesense package of active safety features ($1,170) and had a final price of $27,755.

We imagine many buyers will be well served by the Touring trim. However, those seeking to make the most of the CX-3's complete spectrum of useful safety technology will want to step up to the Grand Touring to gain access to the i-Activesense package.

The Mazda CX-3 represents solid value, providing accessible pricing, high quality and an impressive level of feature content.

Overall

Overall
9

Many times, the vehicles offering the most value fall short when it comes to delivering an emotional driving experience. This isn't the case with the 2017 Mazda CX-3.

The CX-3 offers attributes that appeal to both the heart and the mind. It succeeds as a thoroughly rewarding choice among subcompact crossovers.