2016 Mazda CX-3

The CX-3 is Mazda’s entry in the popular subcompact CUV class – in essence, crossovers that get smaller and smaller until they approach hatchbacks. There is only one engine and one transmission offered in the CX-3: a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic that pushes out 145 horses to all four wheels in the AWD version. A front-wheel-drive version is also available. On the road, the CX-3 definitely produces plenty of zoom-zoom for a fun and lively ride.

Exterior: The CX-3 is one of the best-looking small SUVs on the planet. The combo of its long curvy hood, flared fenders and muscular tail end evokes a sexy hatchback. The CX-3 emits Mazda’s Kodo design philosophy, which is elegant and sleek with flowing organic lines. The 18-inch dual-spoke gunmetal wheels have a rugged look.

Under the Hood: The CX-3 uses Mazda’s 2.0-liter Skyactiv 4-cylinder, which is paired with a 6-speed automatic. This is the sole combo across all three CX-3 trims. The CX-3’s strong suit is its nimble handling, which is assisted by a sport-tuned suspension that makes for a firm ride. On the AWD with active torque control, the CX-3 gets an estimated 27/32 MPG city/highway. Our test vehicle was equipped with the I-Activsense option package ($1,920, only available on Grand Touring) that adds radar cruise control, smart-brake support, rain-sensing wipers, lane-departure warning, auto on/off headlights and high-beam control. With the optional mobile start, you can start the car before you get in.

Interior: The sleek cabin has a European vibe with an uncluttered minimalist design. The use of quality textures and colors — including suede-like fabric, red piping in seats, satin-finished faux metal and faux carbon fiber — add to the interior’s appealing design. The gauges are easy to read and feature a dominant center tachometer that also houses a digital speedometer. The Grand Touring package has a driver’s head-up display, which is one of the most underrated options. You adjust its height via the centrally-located infotainment screen. That 7-inch display is controlled by on-screen buttons or a knob on the center console. The seats are narrow, but comfortable and well-bolstered. The cabin provides decent head- and leg-room.

The Mazda CX-3 provides an excellent combination of style, technology and zoom-zoom exhilaration. It’s one of the top three subcompact crossovers on the market.

2016 Mazda CX-3 by the Numbers

  • Price: $19,960 base start/$29,690 Grand Touring AWD
  • Engine: 2.0-liter Skyactiv G 4-cylinder
  • Transmission: 6-speed auto transmission with sport mode, AWD
  • Horsepower: 146 at 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 146 pound-foot at 2,800 rpm
  • MPG: 27 city, 32 highway

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