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A Look at the Mazda CX-30: ZIPPY ZOOM ZOOM

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A Look at the Mazda CX-30: ZIPPY ZOOM ZOOM

A Look at the Mazda CX-30:



  • Engaged driving experience: Mazda’s reputation for sporty handling shines through in the CX-30. Sharp steering and a well-tuned suspension make it a joy to navigate twisty roads.
  • Upscale interior: High-quality materials and a European luxury design separate this from a budget-friendly crossover.
  • Standard features galore: Even the base trim boasts goodies like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, push-button start, and a suite of well-functioning driver-assistance features.


  • Cargo and passenger space: The CX-30 is snug compared to some rivals, especially in the rear seats. Cargo space is decent but not class leading.
  • Base engine sluggish: While adequate, the standard 2.5-liter engine might leave some power-hungry drivers wanting more.
  • Stiff ride quality: The CX-30 prioritizes handling over ultimate comfort, so the ride can be firm on bumpy roads.

The Mazda CX-30 is not your average subcompact SUV. It injects a dose of driving fun into a world of practicality, making it a compelling choice for those who seek both. Let us take it for a spin and see if it measures up.

Buyers think it does. The CX-30 provides joie de vivre driving, which is made even more enjoyable by Mazda’s trademark near-luxury cabin materials and assembly. The combination has its fans. Five years after the CX-30 first reached these shores, the little SUV continues to gain market share, particularly among young adults and beginning families.

Mazda sells more than 200,000 CX-30s a year on all seven continents. Last year, Canada and the United States accounted for 43.5% of the SUV’s global sales. The trend is continuing this year. CX-30 sales increased 43.4% in the first quarter, and the compact trails only Mazda’s midsize CX-5 as the brand’s most popular offering.

Recently, Ford CEO Jim Farley said he admires Mazda’s view of transportation as something to be enjoyed rather than just another commodity. Indeed, if Ford built cars this good, it might still sell them rather than gas guzzlers, which are admittedly higher-profit vehicles.

The 3 means it is a compact

In Mazda terminology, the final digits represent size, so the Mazda2 is the smallest passenger vehicle and the CX-90 the largest. Models with a 3,5, or 9 also come in -30, -50, and -90 versions, which indicates they are more SUVish .

The CX-3, for example, is 168.3 inches long, while the CX-30 stretches to 173. The former suits urban driving and tight parking spaces, while the latter accommodates passengers and cargo.

Americans are bound to be attracted by the CX-30’s superior drive train. A CX-3, starting at $26,800, comes with front-wheel drive and a 2.0-L naturally aspirated engine that puts out 148 hp and 146-lb-ft of torque, the force we feel on acceleration; in the case of the CX-3 this is not so much.

A CX-30, with nine models ranging from $24,995 to $38,100, comes standard with all-wheel drive, which is excellent in inclement weather and confidence-inspiring when navigating tight twisties on a Sunday afternoon. The base 2.5-L engine puts out a muscular 191 hp and 186 ft-lb, while a 2.5-L turbo cranks it up to 227 hp and 310 ft-lb.

That is a load of power for a 3,300-lb. car. Zoom-Zoom. 

Mazdas are supposed to drive well, and the turbocharged CX-30 does so in spades. It rockets through curves like it’s on rails. 

Standing out from the crowd

The CX-30 competes with a strong group, including the Honda HR-V (starting at $26,800), Subaru Crosstrek ($25,445), and Hyundai Kona ($24,000). Compared to these rivals, Mazda offers a premium feel and superior driving dynamics but sacrifices practicality in terms of space.

Hitting the road

The steering is responsive and precise, giving the driver a confident feeling behind the wheel. The standard engine provides adequate power for most situations, but the turbocharged option is the clear winner for those who crave a zippier ride.

 According to the EPA, fuel economy estimates are on par with the class, with the base model achieving up to 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. Mazda has a good reputation for dependable vehicles, and the CX-30, now in its fifth year of production, earns high marks.

Cozy comfort (for some)

The cabin is a delightful place to spend time, with attractive materials and a clean, driver-focused layout. However, rear-seat passengers might find legroom tight, especially on longer trips. Cargo space is sufficient for groceries and weekend gear, but those with bulky camping equipment might need to look elsewhere.

Tech keeps you safe

Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Higher trims add blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Our tester came with a full suite, and we were pleased to note that Mazda is among the car companies that make it work well. The car can keep itself nicely balanced in the middle of its lane, and the adaptive cruise control will bring it to a complete stop when needed.


Mazda offers a competitive warranty package with 3 years/36,000 miles of basic coverage and 5 years/60,000 miles for the powertrain.

The Verdict

The Mazda CX-30 prioritizes driving engagement and a luxurious feel over outright space. If you value a sporty and stylish subcompact SUV with a premium interior, the CX-30 is a strong contender. However, a competitor might better serve those needing maximum passenger or cargo room. 

Take it for a test drive and see if the Zoom-Zoom spirit resonates with you.

In four decades of journalism, Bill Owney has picked up awards for his coverage of everything from murders to the NFL to state and local government. He added the automotive world to his portfolio in the mid '90s.

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