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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Great gas mileage, spunk and style are just a few attributes of the Mazda CX-3, representing a new breed of crossovers served up in a smaller portion. You’ll be giving up interior space, but if that isn’t an issue, then the vehicle will be one big gain in just about every category.

I drove a 2017 Mazda CX-3 with the 146-horsepower SKYACTIV-G 2-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is available). There are three trims – Sport, Touring and Grand Touring – with my fully loaded Grand Touring trim featuring the following standard features: leather-trimmed sport seats; eight-way power driver’s seat; heated front seats; dual zone climate control; navigation with seven-inch touchscreen display; rearview camera; upgraded Bose audio system; auxiliary input jack and USB port; Bluetooth; HD Radio; Pandora Radio; nineteen-inch wheels; paddle shifters; LED fog lamps; rear roof spoiler; rear cargo cover; eighteen-inch wheels. Vehicle price as described without options came to $24,990.

Now in its second year, the 2017 model features no new major additions. The also-newer Honda HR-V remains the CX3’s best competitor in terms of price and features, but you also have the Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade if you’re looking for something more terrain or attitude specific.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Another impressive point about the Mazda CX-3 is how supportive the front seats are – one can definitely log some comfortable miles in. If you’re comparing it to the Honda HR-V, I’d say the CX-3 features higher quality materials with more thought put into crafting a modern cabin (and that includes a better infotainment system – despite the upgrade Honda’s just doesn’t come off as engaging). The CX-3 has 12.4 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seats and 44.5 with the front seats down; note the HR-V offers 58.8 of total cargo space with the seats down. My test drive also featured a $1,170 GT I-Activsense Package featuring safety technology like Land Departure Warning and Mazda’s own brand of “Smart” performance technology such as City Brake Support.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2017 Mazda CX-3 is a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) with ratings of “Good” in all areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle an overall rating of 5-Stars. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, five-passenger three-point safety belts, dynamic stability control, traction control, hill launch assist, and an advanced airbag system that includes side-impact bags. The Smart City Brake Support uses a laser sensor mounted high on the inside of the front windshield that detects an obstruction, and will reduce the brake rotor travel to allow for more immediate braking should the system calculate there is a risk of a collision. At the mid-level Touring trim you do get Blind Spot Monitoring, which is helpful on highways when changing lanes.

Cost Issues:The base Mazda CX-3 Sport trim starts at $19,960; my loaded Grand Touring trim with the GT I-Activsense Package was $27,260. The 2016 Honda HR-V offers a very competitive price as well with the base LX starting at $19,465. The luxurious version of a sub-compact crossover would be the Lexus NX with a starting price of $35,285.

Activity & Performance Ability: If you need sporty performance to convince you that size doesn’t matter in an SUV, then take a spin in the CX-3 – the 2-liter turbo offers quick action paired to a solid feel at the corners and when jumping off the starting lines or full stops. The HR-V’s four-cylinder wasn’t as spunky and did drivers have to deal with that annoying whine from the CVT-equipped models. What’s also cool about the smaller CX-3 is all-wheel drive is an option. Do check out the Hyundai Tucson’s 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and quick-shifting seven-speed transmission or a Volvo’s four-cylinder turbo if smaller engines with loads of power impress you.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy is a highlight at 29 miles-per gallon city and 32 highway for a combined 31 miles-per-gallon (the Honda’s HR-V’s stats are exactly the same).

If you like the look of an SUV but don’t need all the space of one, consider the sub-compact 2017 Mazda CX-3 that features quick performance, all-wheel drive ability and excellent fuel economy at an affordable price.

©2017 Katrina Ramser

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