2018 Mazda CX-3

2018 Mazda CX-3

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The 2018 Mazda CX-3 is an attractive small crossover pick thanks to its good looks. We’d ask for more room, but fear that would spoil the CX-3’s low price.

Few crossovers do so much with so little like the 2018 Mazda CX-3.

The compact SUV has a relatively simple look that resonates with us—effort isn’t the same as better.

The CX-3 also counts advanced safety features among its skill set—increasingly commonplace for smaller cars, but strangely missing from cars that cost more than twice the CX-3 entry ask of $21,050, which includes destination.

Review continues below

It earns a 6.5 on our overall scale thanks to its good looks and competitive fuel economy. Its Achilles’ heel is interior room, predictably tight for a crossover with such a small footprint. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year’s CX-3 is offered in Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trims, which all receive standard advanced safety features this year. The system, which Mazda calls Smart City Brake Support, can help avoid front crashes at speeds slower than 19 mph.

The rest of the CX-3 lineup is fairly uncomplicated too. Just a single engine-transmission combination powers the compact crossover down the road: a 2.0-liter inline-4 paired to a 6-speed automatic. Acceleration is unexciting, but the handling makes up for it.

Mazda’s MO over the past few years has been to constantly smooth over edges around its crossovers and cars, and the CX-3 is no different. New bushings, control arms, engine mounts and more sound-deadening material could quietly improve the things we like about the CX-3.

What they can’t improve is the rear seat room, which is best considered as an occasional penalty box for in-laws. Fold the seats down and the CX-3 gets more than 44 cubic feet of cargo room, which isn’t class-leading but more than helpful.

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