Model Tested: 2020 Mazda CX-30 AWD Premium
Engine: Skyactive-G 2.5-Liter DOHC 4 Cylinder
Transmission: Skyactive Drive 6-Speed Automatic
Torque: 186 lb-ft
EPA Rating: 25/City • 32/Highway • 27/Combined
Base Price: $29,600 • As Tested: $31,670
Overview: Consumers who want more space than the smaller Mazda CX-3 but not anything as big as the CX-5 should check out the Mazda CX-30. It takes the CX-3 blueprint and scales it up a half-size. The slightly larger dimensions allow a more modern interior layout compared to the CX-3 and more.
Walkaround: The CX-30 looks exactly like what we expect from Mazda — fluid lines, thin headlights, and the wide, signature shark-like grille, which sets it apart from competitors like the boxy Kia Seltos and Nissan Kicks.
Interior: The ergonomic cockpit and instrumentation of the CX-30 is familiar, yet renewed. Quality materials and excellent fit and finish for this price point set it apart.
Seats are comfortable and supportive, with plenty of adjustability. Rear seat headroom and legroom are adequate for 6-footers. Three passengers will be cozy, but two will be comfortable.
The 8.8-inch infotainment display is only controlled via a rotary dial mounted in the console. This system works fine — in theory — but in reality it’s non-intuitive and inconvenient to use at best. The standard Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto help — but not much. If you get or make a phone call, you have to retune the radio, which defaults to the phone’s audio setting.
The best option is learning the software and programing shortcuts into the dial-mounted hot keys.
There’s 20.2 cubic feet more cargo space than the CX-3 — almost identical to the Mazda 3 hatchback. The wide liftgate makes it easy to access the cargo space, although the load floor is slightly higher than most competitors.
Behind The Wheel: Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. The only powerplant available is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder delivering 182 horses and 186 lb-ft of torque — without a turbo. The only transmission is a well-mannered 6-speed automatic.
The CX-30 isn’t the most powerful subcompact crossover out there, but it’s fun to drive, handles with athletic poise and at the top of the class when it comes to driving dynamics. Handling is so good that — despite the old-school rear-end design — it rides and handles better than most competitors.
Bottom Line: With fresher styling, nicer interior, and more space than the CX-3, the CX-30 is a competitive subcompact crossover that holds its own in this crowed segment.