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- Ample features and good value
- Available all-wheel-drive system
- Good handling and impressive performance for segment
- Easy to learn infotainment
- No manual, paddle shifters only on top models
- Not a lot of rear seat room
- Monochrome gauges look cheap
- Head-up display is nice, but not very useful
The 2017 Mazda CX-3 keeps the most attractive features from last year: its price and its handling.
Looks only tell half of the 2017 Mazda CX-3's story: The body cladding and badging on the CX-3 point toward a soft-roader based on the fun-to-drive Mazda 3, but there's more to its tale.
The CX-3 earned a 7.2 overall rating on our scale, which is fairly high for the budget hatchback. We like its fuel economy and features, but it has room to improve on features and overall comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The CX-3 is more closely aligned to the Mazda 2 (sold in the U.S. as the Toyota Yaris iA) and the cladding only covers up a wagon version of that car—but those aren't bad things. We say that because the Mazda CX-3 may be best considered as a hatchback version of a small Mazda sedan, with more usable space and available all-wheel drive.
Even more, the Mazda CX-3 is a stylish wagon that embodies the best of Mazda's "Kodo" design language. It's sinewy and flowing forms underlie the sporty, athletic style on the inside, and its tasteful and elegant interior not found on many small SUVs. If we have one nitpick on the inside it's that the budget roots start to show in the monochrome gauges. We'd prefer that Mazda kept the cash they used to develop the available head-up display (which isn't all that useful) and designed better-looking gauges instead.
The 2.0-liter inline-4 may not be the strongest performer on paper—only 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque—but it is fun to drive and brisk in the corners. The CX-3 is silent and unobtrusive in highway cruising; throaty (albeit a little gutless) in city runabouts. Accordingly, the CX-3 manages good fuel mileage numbers from the EPA that place it among the best in its class along with the Honda HR-V.
It's available all-wheel drive system includes useful predictive features that help spin up wheels that need power—in some cases even from a standstill. Its low curb weight only adds to its tossability in fun corners.
Comfort, safety, and features
Safety scores for the CX-3 are mixed. The NHTSA found in its side-impact testing that the Mazda CX-3's left rear door could collapse into the passenger and increase their risk for a spinal injury. In separate testing, the IIHS called the CX-3 a Top Safety Pick+ for 2017, which reflects good crash safety and available advanced active safety features.
Despite that, Mazda makes available a suite of active safety features, dubbed i-ActivSense, on top models that includes adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, adaptive headlights, automatic emergency braking, and rain-sensing wipers.