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2020 Mazda CX-30 Review by Larry Nutson +VIDEO

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2020 Mazda CX-30
Poised and Refined

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

If you’re scratching your head wondering why Mazda has an SUV model named CX-30 amongst its CX-3, CX-5 and CX-9 crossover SUV lineup, don’t fret. Mazda has a CX-4 in the Chinese market, so it needed a new name. It’s that simple, in today’s global auto business.

The CX-30 slots in between the CX-3 and CX-5 in both size and price. It’s based on the same platform that also underpins the Mazda3 hatchback and sedan. And, it’s powered by the same “Skyactiv-G’ 186-horsepower 2.5-L engine and 6-speed automatic as used in both the Mazda3 and the CX-5.

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The subcompact-size CX-30 seats five, is 173 inches long…5 inches longer than the CX-3 and 6 inches shorter than the CX-5, is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and has 20.2 cu.ft. of cargo space.

Four trims are offered: a base trim priced at $21,900, Select at $23,900, Preferred at $26,200, and Premium at $28,200. All-wheel drive adds $1,400 to the price of each and the delivery fee is $1,100.

From a design perspective the CX-30 follows the Mazda3’s “Kodo” Soul of Motion design language. The overall design is well proportioned, very clean and uncluttered. I especially appreciated the clean front end featuring only the wing-like design of the grille and LED headlights. There’s not lots of additional scoops, and swoops, and fog lights. Similarly, the rear is also uncluttered featuring smartly designed LED taillights and black rear hatch spoiler that visually narrows the C-pillar.

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Mazda has pushed its interiors into a more-premium look and feel with high quality trims and finishes. The driver focus is on a digital gauge display with an 8.8-inch center infotainment display. Leather seats, steering wheel and shift knob, power moonroof, head-up display, power liftgate and Bose 12-speaker audio are available. Seats are nicely supportive. Interior control and switch gear are ergonomically well placed, easily viewed and smooth to operate.

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Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an array of Advanced Driver-Assist Safety (ADAS) feature are offered, depending on trim level. A Multi-function Commander control mounted on the center console is used to access the infotainment display. Mazda has moved away from using a touch screen which is considered more distracting to use. Once a driver sets their preferences it’s quite easy to use.

Research studies say that new vehicle buyers, especially under the age of 40, want remote connectivity in their next vehicle. Mazda Connected Services is a standard feature on all CX-30 models. Features are accessed by logging into the MyMazda app. The app allows control the state of CX-30 remotely. This includes being able to remotely lock the doors or remotely start the engine. In the app, CX-30’s status can also be monitored, such as oil information or tire pressure.

For my evaluation of the CX-30 I drove the Premium AWD trim with a $29,600 base price and was nicely finished in Soul Red Crystal Metallic ($595) with a black leather interior. A white interior is also offered and both are elegantly trimmed with deep brown contrasting surfaces on the instrument panel, doors and center console.

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The 186 ponies from the 2.5-L engine with its race car like 13:1 compression ratio did a decent job of getting me and the CX-30 moving around from stop sign to stop sign in my Chicago neighborhood. Out on the highway it proved just as capable with good merging, overtaking and cruising power. I’ve gotten used to eight, nine, and ten speed transmissions in many a new vehicles today that contribute more than they are given credit for in making a power train perform well. The six-speed in the CX-30 did just fine with smooth shifting and good gear selection at the right time. Also note that Mazda has worked hard on keeping the cabin quiet and that was evident on the CX-30.

Dynamically the Mazda handling style is in the sporty direction and the CX-30 has a nicely compliant ride with well balanced and confident handling, often times begging to be pushed hard through a turn. A myriad of sensors on the iActive AWD system monitor lots of vehicle inputs and distribute torque appropriately. G-Vectoring control helps even more to get around a corner quickly and precisely.

EPA fuel economy ratings are 25 city mpg and 33 highway mpg for FWD models. AWD models are rated at 24 city mpg and 31 highway mpg. But, with cylinder deactivation that is equipped on Premium trims you gain one mpg in each.

The cabin front compartment is nicely roomy. Rear seat space is by no means overly generous but decent enough to carry two grown adults in good comfort. I could easily sit in the rear seat with the driver’s seat set for my 5ft 10in frame.

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More facts and figures on the 2020 Mazda CX-30 can be found at

Mazda offers some interesting choices in the way of two-row SUVs. The CX-30 seems like a much better way to go for most any small and growing family than choosing the CX-3. Not to say the CX-3 doesn’t have its merits and place in the world. The CX-3 certainly would serve a single, just out of college young person very well. Whereas, the CX-30 offers a bit more space and performance that might suite a young couple or some urban-dwelling active lifestyle empty nesters.

There’s something for everyone.

© 2020 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy