Mazda CX-30T — Just right for a small family

By Jim Meachen

(July 2, 2023) If you're a family man, but enjoy a fun-to-drive automobile with a modicum of performance then we suggest you consider the Mazda CX-30 Turbo. It's a practical vehicle for a small family that will keep dad entertained on the weekend and mom with enough room to carry her purchases from an afternoon shopping spree. The icing on the cake is that this compact crossover has very appealing styling and an interior that could live quite nicely in a near-luxury SUV.

Its curvaceous exterior design and premium cabin give the CX-30 an upscale appearance and feel that puts it in contention with some subcompact luxury crossovers, but its pricing is more aligned with mainstream competitors such as the Honda HR-V and Volkswagen Taos. All-wheel drive is standard and the turbocharger puts the frosting on this very tasty automotive cake.

Very little has changed since we reviewed the 2022 model, the biggest is a slight boost in horsepower — and improvement in gas mileage — with the base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Horsepower jumps to 191 from 186 and gas mileage has gone from 24 mpg city, 31 highway and 26 combined to 26,33,29. The CX-30 Turbo, the subject of this review, remains the same.

Although the standard 4-cylinder is probably enough for most buyers, the turbocharged version has a rewarding personality with its 250-horsepower. It's the same engine used in versions of the Mazda3 and CX-5. And it does a wonderful job of transforming the CX-30 into a performance machine that can bring a smile every time you crank it up and hit the road.

To get the 250 horsepower, Mazda says you must run it on premium gas. Feed it the less expensive regular and you will still be rewarded with 227 horses and 310 pound-feet of torque. The turbo engine only adds 100 pounds to the CX-30's weight. EPA mileage numbers are 22 city, 30 highway and 25 combined with all-wheel drive.

Among subcompact SUVs in this price range, the updated Mazda turbo's acceleration makes it one of the swiftest options on the market. To find something quicker requires stepping up to one of the small, sporty options from BMW, Jaguar, Volvo, Mercedes or Mini. But those higher-horsepower alternatives come with a much larger price tag than the CX-30 Turbo's $35,175 starting price.

The 0-60 mph time is around 6.0 seconds and you can feel it in merging into fast-moving traffic. The steering is sharp and gives you a good feel for the road. It complements the CX-30's excellent handling as it hugs corners and feels composed and at home on twisty roads.

The CX-30 has the crossover shape that seems to be extremely popular these days with 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."

You can spot the CX-30 Turbo model by its black wheels and exterior mirrors, larger tailpipes, brushed-aluminum roof rails, and the discreet Turbo badge on its liftgate. And the Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint on our test car is one of the most pleasing automotive colors we've seen in recent times.

The interior 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 35 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.

We do wish that Mazda would create a less confusing infotainment system, but the current setup, that apparently isn't going anywhere soon, is not a deal breaker.

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.

All trim levels get a good selection of safety tech including forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, drowsy driver monitor and automatic high beams.

The CX-30 comes in six trim levels — 2.5 S, Select, Preferred, Carbon Edition, Premium, 2.5 Turbo Premium and 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus. Prices start at $24,325 and go up to $32,875 for the Premium. The Turbo starts at $35,175. Our Turbo Premium Plus test car carried a bottom line of $37,405 including destination charge.

Ted Biederman contributed to this review.

2023 Mazda CX-30 Turbo


Base price (non-turbo) 34,325; as driven, $37,405
Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 227 regular gas/250 premium @ 5,000 rpm
Torque: 310 pound-feet @ 2,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 104.4 inches
Length: 173 inches
Curb weight: 3,505 pounds
Turning circle: 37.3 feet
Luggage capacity: 20.2 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 45.2 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 12.7 gallons (regular/premium)
EPA rating: 22 city, 30 highway, 25 combined
0-60: 6.0 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: VW Taos, Buick Encore GX, Hyundai Kona

The Good
• Rewarding turbocharged engine
• Improved gas mileage with non-turbo engine
• Excellent handling traits
• Upscale interior

The Bad
• Overly complicated infotainment system

The Ugly
• Firm ride might be too firm for some