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MSRP: $20,390 - 27,145

2019 Mazda CX-3 Review

The 2019 Mazda CX-3 ranks near the top of the subcompact SUV class because it offers arguably the sportiest performance in the class, as well as a handsome cabin lined with premium materials. However, many rivals offer more space for passengers and cargo.

Pros & Cons

  • Sporty handling
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Premium interior
  • Limited cargo room
  • Small rear seats

New for 2019

  • Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert now standard
  • Slight bump in horsepower
  • Lightly restyled exterior

Is the Mazda CX-3 a Good SUV?

The 2019 Mazda CX-3 is a good small crossover. In fact, its solid combination of quality and value made it a finalist for our 2019 Best Subcompact SUV for the Money award. Subcompact SUVs are not generally known for their engaging driving dynamics, but the CX-3 is an exception. It’s one of the strongest performers in its class. Its strong brakes, agile maneuvering, responsive steering, and thrifty fuel economy make it a joy to drive. Additionally, the CX-3’s handsome cabin is made with quality materials, and this little SUV offers a long list of features. However, the rear seats and cargo hold are tiny.

Should I Buy the Mazda CX-3

The CX-3 should be on your shortlist if you’re interested in a subcompact SUV. It’s priced competitively and offers one of the most dynamic driving experiences in the class. However, shoppers seeking more room for passengers or cargo would be better off with the Honda HR-V, while those wanting more features, such as standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto or available wireless charging, might like the Hyundai Kona.

Compare the CX-3, HR-V, and Kona »

Should I Buy a New or Used Mazda CX-3?

The 2019 CX-3 belongs to a generation that debuted for the 2016 model year. There were no major updates to the 2017 CX-3, but the 2018 model received an updated suspension and low-speed automatic emergency braking, as well as available features such as a heated steering wheel and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. For 2019, Mazda lightly refreshed the CX-3, giving it a little more horsepower, a lightly restyled exterior, and front and rear center armrests. Additionally, safety features were spread through the lineup – including newly standard blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert – so shoppers interested in a suite of driver assistance technologies are no longer limited to the uplevel Grand Touring trim.

That said, you can potentially save a lot of money by shopping for a used CX-3. If you're interested in an older CX-3, be sure to visit our overviews of the 2017 and 2018 models. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 CX-3 »

We Did the Research for You: 24 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make car shopping a breeze. You’ll find everything you need to know about the Mazda CX-3 in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, safety scores, and cargo space dimensions) with professional evaluations from 24 automotive sources. This Mazda CX-3 review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2016 through 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve been reviewing cars since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. We also award the Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands on an annual basis. To ensure our impartiality, a third party handles our advertising, and we don’t accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Mazda CX-3 Cost?

With a starting MSRP of $20,390, the CX-3 is one of the more affordable new subcompact SUVs. There are a few less-expensive rivals, but the CX-3’s thrilling performance, decent fuel economy estimates, and long list of features make it a great value. Even higher-level trims are priced competitively. The top-of-the-line CX-3 Grand Touring starts at $25,745, which is several thousand dollars cheaper than many rivals' highest trims.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mazda dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mazda deals page.

Mazda CX-3 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Mazda CX-3 or Honda HR-V?

The 2019 Honda HR-V is more practical than the CX-3. It has roomier back seats and far more cargo space, and it offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Fuel economy between the HR-V and CX-3 is similar, so there won’t be a significant price difference at the pump. On the other hand, the CX-3 is more fun to drive. The HR-V has an underpowered engine, though both SUVs handle well. Unless you want the engaging performance of the CX-3, the Honda HR-V should satisfy.

Which Is Better: Mazda CX-3 or Toyota C-HR?

As far as subcompact SUVs go, the 2019 Toyota C-HR is not impressive. It is adequate as a daily driver and offers more standard safety and tech features than the CX-3 (including Apple CarPlay), but in most other ways, the CX-3 is the superior choice. The Mazda’s rear seats, though cramped, are larger than the Toyota’s. The CX-3 also has more overall cargo space, higher fuel economy estimates, a nicer interior, and more spirited driving dynamics than the C-HR. Go with the Mazda.

Compare the CX-3, HR-V, and C-HR »

CX-3 Interior

How Many People Does the CX-3 Seat?

The Mazda CX-3 seats up to five people on cloth upholstery. Synthetic and real leather seats are available in higher trims, as are heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a heated steering wheel.

The front seats are spacious enough for most adults to sit comfortably, and there’s ample support and side bolstering to keep you in place while turning. The rear seats are cramped and best left for children.

CX-3 and Car Seats

This Mazda has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an additional upper tether anchor for the middle rear seat.

CX-3 Interior Quality

The Mazda CX-3 has a modern, upscale cabin lined with premium materials. Even the base Sport trim’s cabin feel nicer than that of many subcompact rivals.

CX-3 Cargo Space

The CX-3 has 12.4 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 44.5 cubic feet with them folded down. Many rivals and even some hatchbacks offer more cargo room than this SUV. For instance, the Honda HR-V has up to 24.3 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 55.8 cubic feet overall in some configurations (AWD models have slightly less space). Additionally, the CX-3’s high floor makes loading items difficult, and there are few small spaces for stowing your personal belongings.

CX-3 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Mazda Connect infotainment system comes standard in every trim and includes a 7-inch touch screen, a console-mounted control knob, Bluetooth, and internet streaming services like Aha and Pandora. However, the CX-3 does not offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone integration, which you can get in rivals such as the Hyundai Kona and Buick Encore. Navigation is available.

Learning to use the infotainment system takes a little time. Multiple steps involving both the touch screen and control knob are required to access some features. However, the screen’s high position on the dash makes it easy to see.

Read more about interior »

CX-3 Performance

CX-3 Engine: Peppy Power

Every CX-3 comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 148 horsepower, which is a slight bump from previous model years. A six-speed automatic transmission with sport and manual-shift modes is standard.

The CX-3 accelerates quickly, especially from a stop. It delivers sufficient power for both cruising around town and passing on the highway. The engine gets noisy when you floor the gas pedal, but the automatic transmission shifts smoothly.

CX-3 Gas Mileage: Excellent for a Subcompact SUV

With EPA estimates of 29 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, the Mazda CX-3 is one of the most fuel-efficient crossovers in the class. All-wheel-drive models lose 2 miles per gallon both in the city and on the highway.

CX-3 Ride and Handling: Dynamic Handling

As you might expect from a Mazda, the 2019 CX-3 is fun to drive. It has minimal body roll even when zipping around turns, and its firm brakes and responsive steering help make it one of the sportiest SUVs in its class. Despite its sportiness, the CX-3 has a cushioned ride. For the 2019 model year, Mazda increased the CX-3’s insulation to reduce vibrations and harsh outside noises. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

Read more about performance »

CX-3 Reliability

Is the Mazda CX-3 Reliable?

As of this writing, J.D. Power has not released predicted reliability ratings for the 2019 CX-3.

Mazda CX-3 Warranty

Mazda covers the 2019 CX-3 with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

CX-3 Safety

CX-3 Crash Test Results

The 2019 CX-3 earns good safety scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – with a caveat. It received a five-star overall rating with five stars in front and side crash tests and four stars in rollover crash tests. However, the NHTSA also noted a safety concern where the passenger-side rear-seat occupant might be struck by the interior door panel in a crash, potentially damaging their spine. As of this writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2019 CX-3.

CX-3 Safety Features

Every CX-3 comes standard with a rearview camera, low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. Some of these features tend to cost extra in rivals. Additional driver assistance features are available, including full-speed forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, adaptive headlights, and adaptive cruise control. A traffic sign recognition system is available in the Grand Touring trim.

Read more about safety »

Which Mazda CX-3 Model Is Right for Me?

Mazda offers the 2019 CX-3 in three trim levels: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. All have the same powertrain and automatic transmission, and you can upgrade to all-wheel drive in any trim for $1,400.

The base CX-3 is a great value. In addition to its generous list of standard features, this trim level comes standard with a handful of driver assistance technologies, including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and low-speed automatic braking. It’s also available with a package that adds even more advanced safety features.

Mazda CX-3 Sport

The base CX-3 Sport starts at $20,390 and comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, remote keyless entry, push-button start, cloth upholstery, a rearview camera, low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch-screen display, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, and internet streaming apps such as Pandora and Aha. The i-Activsense package ($1,100) adds a suite of advanced safety features, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, adaptive headlights, a head-up display, and full-speed forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

Mazda CX-3 Touring

Starting at $22,475, the Touring trim adds automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, proximity keyless entry, automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, and heated front seats. An optional Preferred Equipment package costs $1,410 and includes a moonroof, satellite radio, HD Radio, and a seven-speaker Bose sound system.

Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring

The Grand Touring model (priced at $25,745) tops out the range. In addition to gaining all the equipment listed in the packages above, the Grand Touring adds leather-trimmed seats and navigation. The Premium package, available for $710, has a power-adjustable driver’s seat, a heated steering wheel, and a traffic sign recognition system.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mazda dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mazda deals page.

See 2019 Mazda CX-3 specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2019 Mazda CX-3 is a good subcompact SUV. Its performance is more thrilling and its cabin is more luxurious than many rivals. It also has great fuel economy, and its long list of features makes it a solid value. However, it does have its drawbacks. Shoppers in need of more space for passengers or a larger cargo area might find the Honda HR-V or Mazda CX-5 a better option.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • “Admittedly, we have somewhat low expectations for the subcompact crossover class. For the most part, this new segment is associated with awkward styling and lukewarm performance. Yet the 2019 Mazda CX-3 is a standout for its evocative exterior design and sporty driving dynamics. … Combined with strong fuel economy numbers and a comprehensive list of available advanced safety features, the 2019 Mazda CX-3 deserves your consideration in an ever-growing class." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2019 Mazda CX-3 subcompact-crossover SUV has been upgraded for this model year. But the changes are as subtle as the ‘b’ in ‘subtle.’ Which means the CX-3 remains one of the most engaging choices among its peers, thanks to a rare athletic quality in the chassis and an equally exceptional classiness to the cabin. … [For] the complete package of styling, dynamics, safety, purchase price and resale values, the 2019 CX-3 makes a solid case." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The subcompact-crossover segment is erupting like an overdue volcano – witness the new Chevy Trax, Fiat 500X, and Honda HR-V joining other wee hatchbacks on stilts, such as the Buick Encore, Jeep Renegade, Kia Soul, Mini Countryman, and Nissan Juke. Now, having spent several hours behind the wheel of Mazda's new CX-3, we think it just may be the most compelling of the bunch." -- Car and Driver (2016)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: February 15, 2019

Weak Sales: The CX-3 is among the slowest-selling options in the subcompact SUV class. Segment sales-leaders like the Buick Encore and the Jeep Renegade both outsold the CX-3 by more than 5 to 1 last year. That trend has continued, as Mazda dealerships have moved 28.1 percent fewer CX-3 models this year compared to the same period in 2018.

Research more buying advice »
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