2016 Mazda CX-3 — Fun and Practical

2016 Mazda CX3Model Tested: 2016 Mazda CX-3 Touring All-Wheel Drive

Engine: Skyactiv-G 2-liter 4-cylinder

Transmission: Skyactiv-Drive 6-speed, sport mode automatic

EPA Ratings: 27/city, 32/highway, 29/combined

Base Price: $23,210

As Tested: $26,050

Overview: The Mazda CX-3 is an all-new SUV-like subcompact crossover. Despite its basic crossover-type profile, the CX-3 offers racier looks than some sports cars, and is another example of Mazda’s KODO design theme, which emphasizes lush curves, brawny shapes and forceful lines. Good-looking from any angle, the CX-3 radiates a sporty, athletic, adventurous appearance.

Capability is as important as looks — and it’s where the CX-3 shines. It delivers in terms of comfort, performance and overall ability — including an impressive list of standard equipment, even on the base model.

Interior: Despite some hard plastic, the CX-3 appears as upscale inside as it does outside. Helped by premium elements like contrast stitching, seat piping, substantial-looking controls and soft-touch surfaces, anyone who’s spent time in any recent Mazda will be right at home with the cockpit’s look and feel.

2016 Mazda CX3Front occupants have plenty of room and the rear works for medium-height adults. Cargo space isn’t huge, but the load floor is flat and rear seats fold down.

Behind the Wheel: The CX-3 is great fun to drive, handling tight quarters well with steering and suspension tuned for responsive handling and stability at higher speeds. Front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive enhances stability — especially in wintry conditions.

Smooth and quiet with good ride quality when cruising, the 146-horse, 2-liter engine leaps to life if and when needed, with more than adequate acceleration.

Bottom Line: Strong on style and value, with an extraordinary array of standard features, the 2016 Mazda CX-3 is among the most impressive and enjoyable vehicles in this segment. It offers fun, comfort, handling, utility — and its own, unique brand of panache.