2016 Mazda CX-3 Touring

2016 Mazda CX-3 Touring Review

Can a crossover ever be truly sporty? Mazda thinks so.

By: David Merline

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: October 5th, 2015

We don't mean to oversell Mazda's CX-3 crossover, but it might just be good enough to make us rethink our opinion on crossovers. Except, it probably won't because the best things about the CX-3 are related to its small size, something most crossovers definitely don't have

  • Exterior

    Thanks to its diminutive proportions, the CX-3's crossover shape doesn't actually look bad. In fact, it may be one of the better looking compact SUVs on the market. It actually looks like the half-wagon/half-hatchback that it is. Unlike larger crossovers, everything about the CX-3 looks in proportion, and Mazda's stylish grille blends seamlessly into the various aerodynamic lines and arcs that carry back to the car's rear.

  • Interior

    Mazda's interiors are not the fanciest on the market, but the CX-3 is so well outfitted, at least in Touring trim, that the quality and hardness of the plastic probably won't even register. Between the top-dash-mounted screen and the circular air vents, there's a touch of the Audi look to the CX-3's interior.

    Because it is actually a smaller SUV, the cabin, while roomy and open, has a bit of a sports-car feel behind the steering wheel. The arrangement of buttons and switches that control various functions (like the volume button, or the infotainment wheel) are placed in a rather contortion-producing position, but these are minor design issues that one gets used to after a few days behind the wheel.

    The infotainment is laggy, but not buggy, and the Bose sound system is decent, definitely price-point appropriate. The one major complaint is the cheap, pop-up HUD. We love HUDs, but the index-card-sized plastic piece that rises to display that small HUD information ends up placing the image exactly in the middle of the hood horizon line, making it rather difficult to see clearly.

    Still, with the CX-3's copious options, this becomes a minor quibble. Also, it is possible to turn off the HUD display, although there appears to be no way to keep the plastic screen from popping up.

  • On the Road

    The CX-3 doesn't just look like a reasonably-proportioned car, it drives like one, and that's this car's best feature. The combination of the CX-3's 2.0-liter Skyactiv engine and its delightfully non-CVT transmission makes for a wonderfully old-school driving experience.

    Sport mode keeps the revs high, something no CVT is able to do, making it easy to take advantage of the CX-3's 148 horsepower when it's needed. Normal mode delivers a tamer, but not fun-free drive, and is better suited for stop-and-go traffic. The CX-3 handles like a champ, adding to the hatchback-esque feel - the maneuverability Force is strong with this one.

    This Mazda crossover also delivers very respectable fuel efficiency: 27 city and 32 highway aren't numbers you'll find on anything called a crossover, unless it has the word "hybrid" attached to it.

  • Conclusion

    In general, anything even remotely crossover-like offers little besides extra space, extra height, and extra cost. The CX-3, with its reasonable, but still extremely utilitarian, amount of space, is able to deliver a truly car-like driving experience, while still delivering the flexibility that crossover buyers want.

  • Specs & Prices

    Engine: 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-four

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive

    Power Output: 146 hp / 146 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 27 city / 32 highway

    Base Price: $23,210

    As Tested: $26,150 (includes $825 destination charge)

    Available Features: Mazda mobile start, rear bumper guard

    Premium Package: Power moonroof, tonneau cover, satellite radio, Bose 7-speaker audio system, HD radio

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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.