When it comes to compact AWD CUV’s, Mazda’s fine fleet encompasses three of our favorites. Each one a bit larger than the other starting with the CX-3 (that will cease production for the 2022 model year), CX-30, CX-5 and top-line CX-9.
The CX-30 we tested is a bit longer (173 vs. 168 inches) and a little wider (70.7 vs. 68.1 inches) than the outgoing CX-3, and is essentially based on the CX-3.
Mazda’s 2021 CX-30 has more updated interior and technology and a higher ground clearance (8.0 inches vs. 6.1) than the CX-3 which helps when traversing deep snow and even some mild off-road conditions. The MX-30 is one impressive CUV and destined to be Mazda’s top seller since it debuted.
Beginning with MX-30’s interior, a mere 18-inch step-in brings you into a cockpit that is classy and sporty with heated front seats are nicely supportive and comfy.
Then there’s a 9-inch display that’s embedded low in the top of the dash and is not intrusive to forward vision. It allows easy, safe viewing and is controlled by a rotary dial and push button switches to select features and functions such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto plus Travel Link that provides local fuel prices, sports scores, weather alerts, weather radar and more. It also serves the audio system and rearview camera with 360-degree view. Beneath it are easy to view and use HVAC controls.
Over on the analog gauge cluster, it includes a driver information display that shows various functions and operating alerts. Missing though is a wireless phone charger, but there are receptacles for charging cell phones.
CX-30’s transmission gearshift controls the standard 6-speed automatic transmission and its flanked by the rotary dial for the display and a toggle switch for Normal and Sport modes with the latter increasing engine rpm’s by 1,000 for more spirited performance.
CX-30’s back seat is comfy for two adults with adequate leg room provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward. Headroom can accommodate average height adults with ingress/egress easy thanks to wide opening doors.
Back in the cargo area, and with the rear seatbacks upright, there’s 17.8 cubic feet of space that measures 31.5 inches deep, 40.5 wide and 30 inches high. Flip the 60/40 seatbacks and capacity increases to 42.7 cubic feet.
The cargo area underfloor houses a space saver spare, jack and tools within a hard foam housing leaving little space to stow small items out of sight.
CX-30’s are offered in Base, Select, Preferred, Premium, 2.5 Turbo and top line 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus that we tested.
So configured, our test car’s 2.5-liter turbocharged inline four generates 227-hp and an impressive 310 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 22 city, 30-highway mpg when coupled to the 6-speed automatic trans with paddle shifters. There’s certainly no want for power either accelerating or when passing 18-wheelers on an interstate.
Handling too is impressive with Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that allows you to toss the CX-30 in the turns and it stays planted. A superb handling CUV that has a tight 37.3-foot wall-wall turning radius making it a breeze to park in tight spots.
CX-30 also rides quietly and smoothly on 19-inch Bridgestone tires. Roadway pock marks and tar strips are nicely absorbed.
As the top-line trim model, the Premium Plus comes with automatic emergency braking and rear cross traffic braking in reverse. The latter shocked me a bit while I was backing up on a narrow road with standing corn to my rear. The brakes suddenly employed and I thought I hit a rock or something at the edge of the corn field. But it was just the auto reverse braking feature sensing the corn stalks. A grateful feature to have. The Plus also offers Traffic Jam Assist with steering inputs provided you keep the speed under 40 mph.
The only feature that was somewhat of a pain was that every time the engine is started and you attempt to drive off, you have to first release the electronic emergency brake, a feature many of us rarely engage.
With a long list of standard items and safety features such as lane departure warning, lane keep assist, radar cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, tire pressure monitoring and more, the only extra cost options were for the cargo cover ($150), floor mats ($125), Soul Red Crystal paint ($595), stainless rear bumper guard ($125) that took the base price of $33,900 to $35,995 with delivery.
For that, CX-30 buyers also get top government safety ratings of a full five stars for an overall vehicle score; five for driver/passenger frontal crash; five for front/rear seat side crash; and four for rollover. All impressive scores that make the Mazda CX-30 a top choice for an AWD CUV.