The Mazda CX-3 compact crossover, the smallest vehicle in Mazda’s 14-model line-up, has continued to improve since its launch four years ago and offers minor upgrades for 2019 to enhance its sporty image.
2019 Mazda CX-3 Review
Channeling Mazda’s “Zoom Zoom” mantra, the CX-3 is peppy with extra horsepower and a firmer suspension to match excellent handling. Unrelated to zooming, it has a revised standard center armrest and storage bin.
We test drove the Grand Touring all-wheel-drive, top above the Sport and Touring trims, and outfitted with $1,505 in options.
The Premium Package at $710 was the biggest add-on but armed the Mazda CX-3 with interior comforts like adjustable heated driver’s seat with memory and heated steering wheel. Black parchment leather seats are outlined with white piping. The Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint job added $595.
Premium includes top safety aids like dynamic cruise control, lane keeping warning and a heads-up-display for your speed, posted speed limit, navigation destination guide and warnings of vehicles in your blind spots. Under 19 mph, brake augmentation kicks in automatically.
Handling in the CX-3 was excellent, reminiscent of Mazda’s iconic Miata, and a new suspension with McPherson front strut with stabilizer bar and rear torsion beam firmed up the all-wheel-drive ride on 18-inch tires, inspiring confidence.
We used steering wheel manual paddles driving in sport mode while checking out the dashboard tachometer. It’s fun to drive, agile and responsive, built with the brand’s versatile SKYACTIV® technology for a lighter, stronger frame and increased engine efficiency.
All-wheel-drive works best on wet, snowy or muddy roads but handles mild off-roading.
The CX-3 also incorporates Mazda’s KODO “Soul of Motion” uncluttered design with underbody cladding, muscular fender arches, black window surrounds, and contoured angles for a strong, sleek profile. However, a sloping roof constricts headroom for taller rear seat passengers.
Inside, a dashboard elevated 7-inch touchscreen controls the Mazda CX-3’s CONNECT infotainment system, integrating apps, voice recognition and manipulating the BOSE audio system. A center spine knob also controls functions, since the screen doesn’t touch-function while underway.
A new electronic brake switch created space for an armrest redesign, with one exposed cup holder and one covered, which has to be kept raised for taller cups. Both were covered in past years.
Knick-knack spaces abound and the cargo area is adequate with folded rear seats.
2019 Mazda CX-3
LIKES: Handling, mileage, price, looks, versatility, firm ride, quiet
DISLIKES: Tight third row, options needed
BOTTOM LINE: Affordability, versatility keep it top competitor
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested world-wide market.