If you find yourself in the (fairly specific) predicament where you find the Mazda CX-3 to be too small, and the Mazda CX-5 to be too big, well then I’ve got great news. No, it’s not the Dacia Sandero, it’s the Mazda CX-30!
We just spent a week with the subcompact crossover, so let’s see what life is like with Mazda’s middle-child. Is it “just right” like that chick in that story about the Three Bears, or is like that chick that said “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” from the Brady Bunch?
But first, let’s dig a bit more into the origins of the CX-30. Our 2020 CX-30 is actually part of the very first production year for the handsome crossover. Production began in 2019, and in case you are wondering, there is a CX-4 in production already. And it’s actually a Mazda, specifically a wagon’ish version of the CX-5. So it’s not like someone else owns the name, CX-4 would have have made a lot more sense in my opinion. But hey, 30 > 3, so the math works.
The CX-3 is actually a bit smaller than the current generation Mazda3. The CX-30 has an overall length of 173″, while the CX-3 rings in at 168.3″. So it’s not massively larger, although the wheelbase is a solid three inches longer, critically giving the CX-30 more rear seat room for passengers. Front passenger room is the same in both subcompacts.
The CX-30 comes in four trim levels, starting with the base 2.5 S which still comes with a ton of standard stuff. The Select adds bigger wheels (18″ vs. 16″ on the base), dual-zone climate control, leatherette seating, and more. Preferred builds on creature comforts with heated eight-way power driver’s seat, and Bose audio. Finally, our tester was the maxed out Premium trim, which starts around $29,000. As you can see, our loaner had a few options added (including a $450 SD card) for a grand total of $31,670.
All trim levels come with the same 2.5L 4-cylinder pushing out 186 horsepower paired with a six-speed auto gearbox. Let’s see what she’ll do.
We took the CX-30 out for a holiday tradition, the choosing of the family Christmas tree! Although this year, it was the “ordering the family Christmas tree online” and picking it up in a drive-thru. The farm clearly left their halloween drive-thru set up and put up holiday decorations, but it was free with the tree. Thankfully.
On the highway, the CX-30 drives like most small crossovers. The 186 horsepower engine isn’t exactly quick; but at 3400 pounds, the CX-30 is a pretty lightweight SUV in the grand scheme of things. The Premium trim even has cylinder deactivation, so you can drive in 2-cylinder mode depending on load and get 25/32 mpg. The farm road wasn’t much of an off-road challenge, but we slid the little Mazda around a little on our way to the tree pick-up. AWD is available and adds about $1,500 to the bottom line.
Like most Mazdas, the CX-30 was blessed with a pretty face. The side profile is a little awkward, as shown above, but it’s a nice looking package overall. The CX-30 gets the required beefy plastic around the wheels so we know it’s not a stinkin wagon!
Like a lot of companies, Mazda used the ctrl-c; ctrl-v styling which means smaller and larger offerings across their lineup all look nearly identical from a distance. Not a bad thing in this case, since I think pretty much everything in the Mazda lineup is pretty.
Similarly, Mazda has been on a roll with their interiors. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the color pallette, all of the materials felt high quality and the level of comfort is on par with vehicles that cost a lot more. The seats were impressive, with a good side bolster. I’m a sucker for a good bolster.
Interior room is adequate, with what I would consider “tight” legroom in the back, but pretty usable. My 13 year old daughter said she was cool with it, and she’s pretty tall. The cargo area is generous for such a small vehicle, so for a newly expanding family expecting their 1st child, the CX-30 would be a good option.
The CX-30 exists in an interesting segment. Their are subcompacts that are smaller, like Mazda’s own CX-3, and there are subcompacts that are a bit larger. Probably. Even within Mazda’s own lineup, it sits in a strange spot. Buyers who come in looking for some sort of small SUV will have a few options, from the smallest CX-3 to the still-compact-but-barely CX-5. If one is too small, and one is too big, the CX-30 might just be goldilocks.
Oh, and a 250 horsepower version is coming soon, the CX-30 Turbo. So if the current naturally aspirated version is a little too slow, stay tuned. In the meantime, the CX-30 is an impressive entry to the crossover market and should definitely be on your shopping list.