The Mazda CX-30 Ups the Ante for Compact SUVs

 by Michael Satterfield

Automakers are scrambling to create compact affordable SUVs, with some brands abandoning the traditional sedan all together, the choices for most car buyers isn't hatchback or sedan, it's selecting the size of SUV they will be buying.

The new Mazda CX-30 is set to be the automaker's volume leader by offering great content at an incredible value in the subcompact SUV marketplace. Slightly larger than the CX-3, Mazda reps were tightlipped when asked if the CX-3 would stay in production to sell alongside the CX-30. However, I have my doubts that the CX-3 will be around for 2020, with just 16,899 units sold last year, just half the sales of the Mazda6 sedan and dramatically behind its big brother the CX-5 which sold over 150,000 units in 2018, it makes sense say goodbye to the CX-3.

Having reviewed the CX-3 when it first came out in 2016, I can understand the need to replace it, cramped luggage space and the odd interior layout made the CX-3 a hard sale to US buyers. While it was sporty, fun to drive, and the attention to detail was incredible, it just didn't have the flexibility most SUV buyers are looking for.

The new CX-30 takes the same sporty nature of the CX-3 but offers a useable cargo area, roomy interior, intuitive displays and controls that allow the driver to remain focused on the task of driving. The day of my test drive it was pouring rain as we drove from San Diego to Palm Springs along some of the best back roads in Southern California.

While it wasn't ideal for photography it did allow me the opportunity to really test out the latest in Mazda i-Activ all-wheel-drive. The system uses advanced computer algorithms or some form of dark-sorcery to make sure that the CX-30 remains stable in nearly all road conditions. While the engineers went into great detail about all the ins-and-outs of the i-Activ system, it can simply be said that the CX-30's composure in the torrential downpour while driving around twisty mountain roads was confidence-inspiring. The new off-road traction assist also allows the CX-30 to get into more off-road action than previous Mazdas

The 186 hp Skyactiv-G 2.5 four-cylinder is class-leading and unlike much of its competition, who offer multiple engine options, the 2.5 is standard on all trim levels. While I am always keen for more horsepower the CX-30 doesn't feel underpowered, with plenty of get-up-and-go on the highway and a responsive and sporty throttle when the road gets twisty. While I would have liked to have driven it a lot harder, the rain prevented me from really getting out and pushing it.

The exterior carries over the design language from the new Mazda3 on which the CX-30 is based. The overall shape is handsome and designers worked hard to make sure that form followed function, from the larger rear hatch to easy loading to a wider stance to increase interior passenger comfort. The black cladding, while controversial, works well and does a great job and masking the body mass of the CX-30's taller SUV shape.

Inside Mazda has created a space that is welcoming, easy to use and I will say has the most comfortable seats in its class. The infotainment is also some of the best in the industry with Mazda's simple to control knob in the console. CX-30 comes standard with an 8.8-inch large center display with Mazda Connect, an AM/FM eight-speaker sound system with HD Radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio, automatic on/off LED headlights, and an electronic parking brake. Mazda Connected Services are included for three years and the in-car Wi-Fi hot spot comes with a six-month or 2GB trial. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are standard on the Select trim level.

Overall the new CX-30 sets a high bar for its competition in the compact SUV market and I would not be surprised if it becomes a leader in a segment that is getting more competitive with each model year. With pricing starting at $21,900* there is a lot to like about the CX-30, learn more at


Front-Wheel Drivei-Activ All-Wheel Drive
CX-30 Select$23,900*$25,300*
CX-30 Preferred$26,200*$27,600*
CX-30 Premium$28,200*$29,600*

Soul Red Crystal$595
Machine Gray Metallic$300
Snowflake White Pearl Mica$200

*MSRP does not include $1,045 for destination and handling ($1,090 in Alaska), taxes, title or additional fees. Dealers set actual sale prices.