2017 Mazda CX-3 handles well, features strong tech and safety offerings Featured

Mar 20, 2017 Hit: 462 Written by 
The 2017 Mazda CX-3 competes in the emerging subcompact SUV category.
The 2017 Mazda CX-3 competes in the emerging subcompact SUV category. Photo courtesy of Mazda

Several years back, led by the Nissan Juke and other vehicles, the subcompact SUV category became a big thing -- and it’s been exploding every since, with manufacturers clamoring to join the segment. Last year, Mazda got involved with the CX-3 offering, and that offering is back again unchanged for its second year with a 2017 model, which I recently had a chance to test.

For those unfamiliar, these things are simply tiny SUVs; they ride higher than a regular car and area bit heavier, but interior space isn’t much bigger than a small sedan. Every year, more and more them appear.

The CX-3 can technically fit 2 people in front and 3 people in back, but the space is so tight in the rear, I wouldn’t want to sit there. Maybe small kids will be OK.

Numbers on the CX-3 are 18 cubic feet of cargo volume, and it can accommodate a max load of 850 pounds. The vehicle is 168 inches long, 70 inches wide, 61 inches tall, and weighs 2,945 pounds. In addition to the tiny back seat, your cargo space isn’t much to talk about.

On the plus side, the interior design is among best in the segment.

Target buyers for this vehicle would be couples who won’t be transporting children, or folks who generally travel alone or with one passenger, and want to upgrade from a typical small sedan at a reasonable price.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2017 Mazda CX-3
  • Price as tested:: $28,810 (starts at $19,960)
  • Best feature:: Excellent handling, strong tech and safety features
  • Rating:: 3.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: People who usually travel alone or with one passenger, and want to upgrade from a typical small sedan.


You get only one option under the hood of the CX-3: A 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine, with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It boasts of 146 horsepower and 146 lb.-ft. of torque.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but AWD is offered.

As usual with Mazda vehicles, the drive is a smooth and enjoyable one -- that’s sort of their trademark. It handles well due to its sporty suspension and a slimmer weight count than some competitors, and drives as well or better than most of its mini-SUV competitors.

But the problems come in when we talk power. To be blunt, the CX-3 is not a powerful vehicle. That’s my main issue with this particular segment; whether it’s Mazda or other brands, it’s typically very hard to find a tiny SUV that gets you moving as well as you’d like it to. Also, inside the CX-3 there can be a decent amount of road noise at times.


As usual when I drive their vehicles, I found Mazda’s infotainment setup easy to use and well-designed. It features a 7-inch screen and a rotary knob that is quite handy in the center console. One other bonus on the CX-3 is that it does offer blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control; features not available on many of the vehicles competing with the CX-3.

Among the many other tech and safety features available on the CX-3 are: Heated front seats; Push-button start; Navigation; Rearview camera, and a Bose sound system. All in all, for a small vehicle, it offers more tech than you would expect.

As a bonus, safety test ratings are very high all around, which isn’t always the case with smaller vehicles like this. That’s a big factor for many potential buyers and should help the CX-3.

So how is fuel economy compared to other vehicles in its class? Very strong, actually.

The CX-3 offers 27 mpg in the city, 32 highway and 29 combined. Compared to other SUVs in this size (Chevy Trax, Buick Encore, Honda HR-V, among others), the CX-3 ranks at or near the top of the class in terms of fuel mileage numbers.

The price range for a 2017 CX-3 will fall somewhere in the 20s; My test vehicle was a maxed out vehicle that came in at over $28,000; base price starts just a hair under $20K.


The 2017 Mazda CX-3 is not for everyone due to its small size (I would recommend it only to people who don’t regularly transport people in the back seat or transport much cargo), but if you’re in the seemingly growing number of consumers in the market for one of these tiny SUVs, the CX-3 has some appealing features that make it worth considering, even against the bevy of competitors it faces.

================ can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.


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