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2017 Mazda CX-3 Review

The CX-3 is now in its sophomore year of production. It has made its presence known at the crossover lunch table that it is here to stay.

The 2017 Mazda CX-3 is smaller than the Mazda 3, but sold as a subcompact crossover. It’s a term I never understood. Why would people want a “SUV” that is smaller, or equal to, a compact car?

The logic didn’t add up in my head. Now I get to find out if the 2017 Mazda CX-3 AWD should be an option for someone looking in the crossover market.

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Exterior

Some vehicles have a love or hate appeal to them and the CX-3 could fall on that list within the certain opinions. It’s small, but it nose makes up 1/3 of the vehicle leaving a small rear end.

It looks like they spent most of their time designing the front and ran out of time with the rest of the car. It doesn’t look bad, but it’s not jaw dropper either.

I wear different styles of boots and from the right angle the CX-3 reminded me of a boot. The low front end ending with the tall tip at the end gives it that shoe appearance.

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The profile view is the CX-3’s best view. You can see the lines of the vehicle as it rolls up and down like rolling plains of Texas.

The dual tailpipes at the end do give it that sporty vibe when you walk up to it. It provides a sense that the vehicle had handling in mind. It might even have a sport mode.

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One of my friends said that it reminded her of her own Nissan Juke. Depending on who you are that can either be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s a hatchback with sporty capabilities that sits a little higher than a sedan.

Interior

As I mentioned earlier, the CX-3 replaces the compact Mazda 2. Interior space is small, even for a medium size guy like me. I felt quite large inside the CX-3. It took a good 10 minutes adjusting the manual seats and steering wheel to find the right spot.

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I had the Mazda CX-3 during the New Year weekend and used it to chauffeur my friends around San Antonio. All four of us were able to fit without complaints of head room or leg space. But anyone over 5’ 10’’ will have trouble getting in and out of the back seat. The low roofline makes a low bridge for anyone who is tall.

The particular Mazda CX-3 was the Grand Touring AWD trim so it came fully-optioned. I sat in leather with suede inserts that were also heated.

It had push-button start, moon roof, audio and cruise control on the steering wheel and a Bose-equipped sound system. Mazdas have always had outstanding, AC and heater systems in their cars. It doesn’t matter what the weather may be outside, because in a Mazda you can be shivering or sweating at the turn of a knob.

The CX-3 also came equipped with Mazda’s Active Driving Display. It’s a little clear tinted screen that flips up when you start the car and is sitting right on top of the gauge cluster. The CX-3 only has a digital speedometer and it’s hard to see in the corner of the main center gauge. The heads-up display shows you how fast you are going so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.

The CX-3 is comfortable once you get the seating position right. Everything feels tight as drum and crisp to the touch the way modern should feel.

Specifications

Powering the 2017 Mazda CX-3 is a 2.0 liter SKYACTIV-G four cylinder engine making 146-hp and 146 lb.ft of torque. The CX-3 weighs in at a hair under 3,000 pounds.

Is it fast? It is you are not aware of it. The CX-3 doesn’t feel fast on the road. Put your foot down and the 2.0 liter makes a not-too-pleasing noise as it tries to pull away.

One area where the CX-3 shines is gas mileage. The 2017 Mazda CX-3 gets 27 in the city, 32 on the highway for an average of 29 mpg. I was able to get close during my week with the CX-3 by averaging 28.8 mpg.

One of Mazda’s ad campaigns is “driving matters” so I took it to my favorite country road to see if it could make me giggle. The CX-3 does not have a manual option, but you do get paddle shifters which are responsive.

Powering through the corners is where you can feel the front wheels digging in to pull through the tight turn without understeer. That’s thanks in part to its independent front suspension.

I wish I had access to a race track to find out what the CX-3’s edge of traction is. On these civilian roads I was trying my best to see if I could make the front tires misbehave. The CX-3 brushed away my attempts by sticking to the pavement like a slot car. Fast it may not be, but still has a Mazda’s endearing quality for being fun at low speeds through tight turns.

The 2017 Mazda CX-3 comes in three trim levels: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. Prices start at $19K and can travel up to the high 20’s. The CX-3 used for this review came with an MSRP of $26,240, but with extra options its total final price was $28,510.

2017 Mazda CX-3

Exterior
Interior
Infotainment
Performance
Fuel Economy
Safety

$28,510

Someone who buys the CX-3 is someone who falls in love with it. You need to have an emotional investment in this car in order for it to make sense to you.

Final Thoughts

I have always had a soft spot for Mazda but I didn’t fall in love with. The front arm rest is over the cup holders which means you have to lift it up to place your big-gulp. Any straws in the beverage will smash under the arm rest. A real “first-world problem” to be complaining about but at 30 grand it’s justified.

Interior space is too small for my taste.

My biggest question with the CX-3 is the why. Why would someone spend $26-28,000 on a subcompact crossover? You can get a lot of vehicle for that kind of money. It doesn’t make sense to me.

If you want a small car with 4-doors and a big trunk, get the Mazda 3. Want all that but in a SUV appearance package? Get the Mazda CX-5. All vehicles with MSRP’s that ranges like the CX-3.

Someone who buys the CX-3 is someone who falls in love with it. You need to have an emotional investment in this car in order for it to make sense to you.

About Jesus R. Garcia

Jesus R. Garcia is an automotive journalist and contributor to Future Motoring. He's a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association.

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