The Mazda CX-3 offers a nice blend of practicality and sportiness.

2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring Review

This crossover is endless fun on any road

By: Wade Thiel

Web2Carz Senior Staff Writer

Published: February 24th, 2016

Mazda's CX-3 is an almost perfect alternative for those torn between the Mazda3 hatchback and the CX-5 (both renowned vehicles). Before this sporty CUV, shoppers had to make a compromise one way or the other. Now, the CX-3 lets them get the sporty car-like ride they love and the higher ride height and utility of a larger vehicle like the CX-5.

Make no mistake, the CX-3 doesn't boast the cargo room of the CX-5 and it doesn't quite have the sharp handling and crisp nature of the Mazda3, but it does walk the line between the two. If it leans one way, it's on the side of the sporty hatchback (something we couldn't be happier about).

  • Exterior: An attractive, tall-standing hatchback

    The CX-3 looks more like a hatchback car that just happens to stand a little taller. We prefer this to the shrunken SUV look that so many other crossovers have. It allows Mazda's designers to work their Kodo magic and make the car look energized and ready to roll.

    • A long hood and curves make for an attractive profile.
    • The flowing lines of the car exemplify Mazda's Kodo design strengths better than on the CX-5.
    • Large 18-inch wheels give the CX-3 a tall, mature stance.

  • Interior: A sporty interior to match

    The CX-3's interior feels as well put together as its exterior. Inside it feels more like a sporty car than a people-hauler crossover. We actually prefer the CX-3's seemingly sports-car inspired interior as opposed to some of the weak, family-focused interiors we've seen on other CUVs. It reinforces the feeling that the exterior evokes. There's plenty of room on the inside for passengers and a respectable amount of cargo space (12.4 cu ft cargo volume and 44.5 cu ft with seats down), but not as much as the CX-5.

    • The HUD system's little plastic pop-up screen looks really cheap, but it still functioned well.
    • The dark red interior accents on the door and center of the dash bring some needed variance.
    • The infotainment system is easy to use but slow at times with controls underneath the center armrest that are well-placed and simple.

  • Driving Impressions: The driver's CUV

    Again, the CX-3 feels more like a fun little hatchback car than a CUV on the road. It's quick and nimble and the AWD made tearing around in the snow a lot of fun. We're glad Mazda popped a six-speed automatic transmission in this thing, as a CVT would have made it a lot less enjoyable.

    • Sport mode keeps the 2.0-liter engine revving high, making it easy to enjoy all of the 148 hp.
    • Fuel efficiency is respectable at 27 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.
    • Handling is precise and the suspension firm, but rough patches of pavement aren't too jarring.

  • Final Impressions: One of the best sporty CUVs

    The CX-3 is a lot of fun to drive, has a reasonable amount of cargo space and leg room, is appointed with comfortable seats and modern technology and can be fitted with AWD for those who feel they need it. It's at home in the city but has the equipment and power to be completely comfortable and competent on the highway or curvy country roads.

    If you need the utility of a CUV but can't stand the bland driving characteristics of many models on the road, the CX-3 is like a breath of fresh air. Instead trying to fit everything people love about SUVs into a smaller package, Mazda tried to take a sporty hatchback design and give it a crossover vehicle ride height and utility capabilities. In our minds, the CX-3 is a success.

  • Specifications & Pricing

    Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive

    Power Output: 148 hp / 146 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy: 27 mpg city / 32 mpg highway

    Base Price: $26,240

    As Tested: $29,260 (including $900 Delivery Processing and Handling Fee)

    Options on our test vehicle: Rear Bumper Guard; Door Sill Trim Plates; All State Emission; Navigation System; Sirius Satellite Radio; GT I-Activsense Package: Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Smart City Brake Support, Smart Brake Support Variable Rain-Sensing Wipers, Lane Departure Warning, Auto-On/Off Headlights, High Beam Control.

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• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2016 Mazda CX-3, click here: 2016 Mazda CX-3.