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2016 Mazda CX-3 Road Test | Edmunds.com

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 10,059
edited June 2015 in Mazda
An all-new model in the subcompact crossover segment, the 2016 Mazda CX-3 combines a well-built interior, class-best driving dynamics and a small footprint into a curvy body. Excellent fuel mileage, available all-wheel drive and numerous standard and optional features make it one of the top picks in this expanding category.

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  • hank39hank39 Tallahassee, FLPosts: 144
    I'm a Mazda fan through and through (my family and I have owned six Mazdas since the mid-90s), but if I were in this market right now, it would be tough to pick the CX-3 over the HR-V. The HR-V is roomier and seems more practical to me...and it's pretty important as we have a little one in tow these days. Obviously I could be swayed differently upon seeing both in person and driving them.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,056
    The Chevy Trax wasn't "an early entrant" in the CUV category as it only became available this year. The Buick Encore has been available since 2013 and it is very strange that your list of competitors doesn't include it. More of an SUV, great interior and good road manners, it at least deserves a mention in both this review and the review of the HRV.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • a1addicta1addict Posts: 5
    @Hank39: I hear you on lack of CX-3 practicality, I too hoped it would offer a bit more as well as a bit more mpg. No, the best in class comes from the class above- CX-5 with the 2.5L. Its my daily driver and I basically can't recommend it enough. After discount on a '15, (touring or above) price diff will be negligible as well as mpg. What won't be is refinement and +39 lb-ft torque that pulls this vehicle up hills amazingly well at 40MPH turning 1500 RPM like none other in its price range. Also happy to run when you boot it up the rev range- its an awesome powerplant bolted to a great chasis with great steering. A supercharger and lowered sport suspension are the only things that hold it back from being truly sublime.
  • a1addicta1addict Posts: 5
    By refinement I'm strictly referring to the engine bay (and I'll add responsiveness and flexibility to that) as otherwise I'm sure the CX-3 is right there with its stablemates at or near top o' the heap.
  • shifter25shifter25 Posts: 1
    a beautiful design that i hope will sell like hotcakes so Mazda can continue building fun affordable cars! i think they have a good chance in this segment as not all the competition has an offering yet.
  • suckered5suckered5 Posts: 1
    I have to say, since Mazda decided not to Market the Mazda2 hatchback under its banner this year (sedan version sold as Scion iA), they would go a bit easier on the CX-3 price. Still, looking at the other vehicles in this class, it doesn't seem out of line once you compare it to the other "cute-utes"... it has certain safety features not even available on many of them, and thank God, it has a 6 speed tranny (albeit automatic) rather than a CVT. If I see CVT, I take a car off my shopping list (bad recent experience as well as a couple people I know having problems). It sounds like the Grand Touring, with AWD would be complete as is, though the Touring may well work witha sunroof option for me, Either way, the mid-20's is not a bad price these days, though I wish it could be optioned with the 2.5L (and I wish the CX-5 could be optioned with something pushing 50 more HP, even though it feels OK as is. Just big hills + snow, more HP (and torque) can be quite helpful being I come from a very hilly, snowy area.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited August 2015
    My wife and I tested a 2016 CX-3 AWD yesterday. Grand Touring model in Meteor Gray Mica with a black interior. Our (misguided?) goal is to try to downsize from the minivans we've been driving to something smaller. Our hobbies have changed a bit and we'd like something easier to drive and park that's better on gas.

    We have looked at most of the compact SUVs and most of the boxy hatches, at least on paper.

    The closest competition for the CX-3 is the HR-V. The HR-V is roomier and utilizes space better but loses on the driving experience and the AC is weak (at least on our tester).

    The tech stuff is appreciated on the CX-3. Two handy USB ports in the console caught my eye. The "stuck-on" nav unit didn't bother me - even though it's on top of the dash it's still low enough not to interfere with vision out the windshield and is easily viewable (if the screen on your tester is washed out, turn the headlight switch to "auto").

    The stay in your lane gizmo had the typical irritating buzz that you'll wind up turning off a lot but the good implementation of the feature relates to the other popup on the dash, the heads up display. On the display, there's a visual indicator of where the vehicle is on the road - left, right, center. I could see that feature growing on me.

    I've had a rental car with a HUD on the windshield and I really like them. The popup one on the CX-3 isn't attractive, but it works well. Not sure what else you may be able to display on the popup but I like the digital readout of my mph.

    Speaking of visibility, the mirrors seemed a bit intrusive and the passenger side one created a noticeable blind spot. The blind spot detection warning on the mirrors could be handy but there'd be a learning curve for me to take full advantage of them.

    There's a backup camera in the nav unit that I didn't pay a lot of attention to. Didn't notice whether it turns with the wheel. The HR-V really sets the standard with back up cams with their 3 view choices.

    Handling, fun to drive? Yep, plenty peppy (I'm used to 10+ zero to 60, so anything under that qualifies as peppy in my book). Couldn't really say that the Sport mode made all that much difference, but I'm not a particularly aggressive driver. I was expecting a bit more of a go-cart feel but it wasn't quite a road snuggler as, say, an old Miata I had for a weekend years ago. I'm so old school, my idea of a grown-up go-cart is an original VW Beetle. But the CX-3 is definitely fun to drive and the seats were comfy. Didn't play with the paddle shifters.

    About those seats - all manual and no lumbar in the tester (that otherwise had a lot of features, including a nice sunroof). I'm not a big leather fan but these were okay.

    The negative points for us all relate to room. I like to be able to splay my knees out when driving but the cockpit is too narrow, although my right knee really didn't bump the console as much as it rested against it. Your choice is a straight right leg from seat to accelerator - or cruise control. Might get old on a road trip.

    My wife is average size but she felt like the shoulder room was lacking on the passenger side, especially if you move the seat back so that your shoulders are near the pillar.

    The shared center armrest works but could be better, especially for the passenger.

    The back seats wouldn't work well if you frequently carry friends around. Pretty tight.

    The seats fold down and you can fold them from the hatch. They don't quite fold flat but it's close.

    Great car and not as SUVy as a CX-5 (we tested one of those right after driving the CX-3).

    So Mazda, lets see that rumored CX-4 - could be perfect for us. B)
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 122,989
    Sounds like you'd be happier in a CR-V..

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    Edmunds Moderator

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,056
    Or the Nissan Rogue. Is that on your list? It's just a bit bigger than the Encore and seems more trim than the CRV.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
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