2018 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD
Just Plain Fun To Drive
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – What sets the CX-3 ahead of the pack is its personality – It loves to party on back roads.
But wait a minute, the uninitiated might mutter, aren’t we talking about a mundane little run about here?
With lots of low end grunt, quick acting paddle shifts, and a suspension that is about three whiskers on the firm side, this little crossover just hangs in there during spirited driving on rural roads. It is darn near sports car like. That’s why it really comes to life when you engage that little silver console switch and call up the “Sport” driving mode.
After all, Mazda does proclaim that “driving matters.” And we should not overlook the very attractive exterior design, to my eyes, the best of the compact crossover class.
All CX-3 models share the 2.0-liter four with 146 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 146 lb-ft of torque 2,800 rpm. It is matched to a six-speed automatic with paddle shifts.
Zero to 60 comes up in the mid-eight second range, but again, where this combo really shines is in low end acceleration.
With all wheel drive the EPA rated economy comes to 27/32/29 mpg. I came in at 28 during a week of heavy stop and go traffic that goes with errand running.
Range could be an issue on long trips with only an 11.9 gallon gas tank. It came to just 240 miles on the first tank full. Of course if there are young ones aboard that may not matter.
Up front were two very comfortable leather and suede bucket seats, a sporty sized wheel and excellent white on black instruments with the tach center stage as it should be.
A small plastic head up display pops up above the instrument panel for quick speed reference. There is also a digital speed read out at the bottom of the tach.
While fit and finish and materials were above what one might expect at this price range, all was not well.
Leg room for adults in the second was quite tight. And the front cup holders were too far to the rear making for an awkward reach for your drink. Also one must raise the center arm rest to use them.
Cargo space is the smallest in its class. A total of 12.4 cubic feet with the second row seat up, and 44.5 with them folded.
And the knob that controls some audio functions such as off and on is located too far back on the center console for an easy reach. .
Offsetting some of this was a very quiet interior on interstate trips, well above average for its class.
What do you get:
The top-level CX-3 Grand Touring includes automatic climate control, a rear cargo cover, moonroof, Bose Audio with 7 speakers, HD radio, satellite radio, and cargo rea cover. The Grand Touring Preferred Equipment Package includes parchment or black leather with red accents and suede upholstery, LED lights, navi and paddle shifters.
The CX-3 is now in its third model year and offers Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels.
For 2018 the base Sport model starts at $20,110, or $21,360 for all-wheel drive.
Our top-of-the-line Grand Touring starts at $25,165 for front drive and $26,415 for all-wheel drive. Add in $1,435 for the GT Premium Package.
If all you carry in the back seats are kids, and cargo capacity is not a huge issue, what you get here is a small crossover that is simply good fun to drive. If space is an issue, I would recommend a close check of the CX-5.
And as a daily commuter carrier, the CX-3 in Grand Touring form would be a very fine way to get to work.