Mazda CX-30 — First-rate addition to '3 series' family

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(April 19, 2020) Mazda it seems is covering every niche of the compact/subcompact family hauler market with three vehicles — the Mazda3 compact hatchback, the Mazda CX-3 crossover, and the all-new Mazda CX-30 crossover/car-like hatchback. The good news is that all three are among the best and most affordable family vehicles currently on the market. The differences in design, technology, performance and infotainment are small.

The CX-3 is the smallest of the three and carries a smaller powertrain. But the Mazda3 hatchback and the CX-30 are almost mirror images in size, powertrains and equipment. Both offer a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 186 horsepower, and both have nearly identical passenger space and cargo capacity. The biggest differences — the Mazda3 hatchback gets better gas mileage, but the CX-30 starts $1,645 lower. All three have the attributes of the "new" Mazda and that's a very good thing.

What the CX-30 has is the raised seating position of a crossover and the crossover shape that seems to be extremely popular these days. You might say is that the CX-30 is a "lifted" Mazda3. Mazda designers gave it a forward canted rear window and heavy black-plastic body cladding favored by crossover SUVs. Mazda says the CX-30 is the second model to adopt the latest evolution of its Kodo design, "a more mature interpretation of the striking design ethos."

While it looks like everything else in a Mazda showroom with clean lines, nice proportions and with a coupe-like silhouette, the CX-30 brings the sophistication of a more expensive car with a solid structure, an energetic engine, secure handling, a classy and quiet premium-looking interior, and a load of safety equipment.

It should work well for a new family who wants something more than a bare-bones vehicle when buying their first new car starting at a cash=friendly $23,000 including a $1,100 destination charge. This outlay brings a front-drive five-seat crossover with a fair amount of standard equipment including LED lighting, 16-inch alloy wheels, an 8.8-inch infotainment screen, an eight-speaker radio, air conditioning, two USB ports, and pushbutton start and remote entry. Standard safety features include lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and adaptive radar cruise control.

And all CX-30s come with the very adequate naturally aspired 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 186 horsepower and a 186 pound-feet of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The automatic seemed to keep the engine's peak power on tap at all speeds and we found the engine/transmission a near-perfect match. It has been measured at 7.5 seconds from 0-to-60 and at 15.8 seconds at 89 mph in the quarter mile. These statistics help explain why we had plenty of steam to quickly merge into fast-moving traffic and the where-with-all to quickly pass a slow-moving vehicle on a two-lane road without the need for advanced calculations.

While gas mileage is not best in class, it's a very acceptable  25 mpg city, 33 highway and 28 combined in two-wheel drive and 25/32/27 with all-wheel drive — using the less-expensive regular gas.

The interior of the CX-30 features elegant simplicity with well-made materials and in pleasing color combinations. We have found over the past couple years that Mazda makes the best interiors for vehicles under 30 grand. The gauges and switchgear are easy to read and understand. Climate controls all have buttons and knobs. Controlling the radio, settings, navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions all falls to the knob between the seats.

One sour note — we found accessing radio stations and setting a favorite station unnecessarily complex. In many cars you simply tune to a favorite station, press a preset button and — presto — you have your preset. Not so easy in the dizzy tech world of Mazda. Here's the procedure — go to the owner's manual to get instruc
tions, punch the home button, then select the entertainment screen, then select source (FM, XM/Sirius, etc.), scroll to the tune option, go to your favorite station, then go to the favorites button, then hit add or edit station, then add to favorites. Hey tech guys — the old fashioned way is still the best way.

We found the driver's seat comfortable and we were able to attain an optimum driving position. Rear-seat passengers have adequate legroom unless they are over 6-feet tall. Cargo space is good for the segment
measured at 20.2 cubic feet with the second-row seats in use and 45.2 cubic feet with seatbacks folded.

The CX-30 comes in four trim levels — Base, Select, Preferred and Premium — and with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. While we outlined the rather generous features of the base model, moving up the Select trim starting at $25,000 including destination brings Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind-spot monitoring, dual-zone climate control, simulated leather upholstery and tinted rear windows. All-wheel drive can be added to any trim level for $1,400.

Our Premium package test car with all-wheel drive carried a bottom line of $30,700 and added such features as full leather seating, head-up display, power liftgate, Bose premium 12-speaker audio, and adaptive front lighting.

The CX-30 comes with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile drivetrain warranty. Roadside assistance is available for three years or 36,000 miles.

2020 Mazda CX-30


Base price: $23,000; as driven, $30,700
Engine: 2.5 liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 186 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 186 foot-pounds @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 104.5 inches
Length: 173 inches
Curb weight: 3,408 pounds
Turning circle: 37.3 feet
Luggage capacity: 20.2 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 45.2 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 12.7 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 25 city, 32 highway, 27 combined
0-60: 7.5 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Hyundai Kona, Subaru Crosstrek, Honda HR-V

The Good
• Upscale interior
• Clean interior, exterior design
• Excellent handling traits

The Bad
• Over complicated audio controls

The Ugly
• Rear seat room below average