$15,283 - $19,790

2016 Mazda CX-3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Mazda CX-3 was new.


Performance: 9.1

According to reviewers, the all-new Mazda CX-3 has athletic handling and sharp steering, creating one of the most enjoyable driving experiences in the class. The 2016 CX-3's engine has sufficient power for driving around town but could use more power for highway passing, critics say. They add that its six-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly.

  • "This class of B-segment crossovers is growing like crazy, and will only get bigger. But until someone comes along and takes its place, Mazda has once again given us the best driver of the bunch." -- Autoblog
  • "Hatchbacks are not widely embraced by mainstream America, no matter how much we'd like them to be. SUVs are. And among the new compacts, one thing is clear-if you love to drive, your choice is easy: buy the CX-3, and enjoy every minute of it." -- Road and Track
  • "The Mazda CX-3 is compact, lightweight, and efficient, all of which makes it a pleasure to drive. At a drive event in Scottsdale, Ariz., I spent the morning behind the wheel of a loaded CX-3 Grand Touring equipped with all-wheel drive, before swapping into a front-drive midlevel CX-3 Touring. No matter the drivetrain, the CX-3 drives well." -- Motor Trend
  • "In typical Mazda fashion, the CX-3 is one of the sportiest vehicles in the subcompact crossover segment. It feels just as small as it looks, backed up by precise steering and thoroughly confident and agile handling manners. This is a car that relishes corners, and with its extra ground clearance and ample suspension travel, even bumpy back roads are enjoyable." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The new 2016 Mazda CX-3 is equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 146 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift sport mode comes standard. According to the EPA, the CX-3 gets up to 29/35 mpg city/highway, which is great for a compact SUV.

Critics report that the CX-3's engine produces adequate acceleration for driving around town. They note that it feels fairly quick from a stop, but agree that it feels underpowered when passing on the highway. Still, they note that moderate engine power is common for a subcompact SUV. Reviewers are pleased with the Mazda CX-3's quick six-speed automatic transmission and say it performs even better when in manual-shift sport mode.

  • As with most every vehicle in this burgeoning segment, the CX-3 has only modest power. Still, it makes the most of what it has. In our testing the front-drive CX-3 hit 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, which is a half-second quicker than the Fiat 500X (which has 34 more horsepower), 1.5 seconds quicker than the Chevy Trax but a little over a second slower than the class hot-rod, the turbocharged Nissan Juke." -- Edmunds
  • Power from the four-banger was adequate for the task if not necessarily for drag racing, which no one is going to do with this anyway. If we had to estimate, we'd say 0-60 will eventually come up in less than 10 seconds. Maybe even less than nine seconds. With 146 hp hauling 2,805 pounds of curb weight, the response is not bad off the line, if a little slow at passing speeds. But for almost everything that will be asked of this CUV, the powertrain is up to the task." -- AutoWeek
  • "The Mazda's Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter four-cylinder, unfortunately, isn't as enthralling. While it's mated to a six-speed automatic with a smartly tuned Sport mode and optional paddle shifters (GT models only), the engine struggles to motivate the CX-3 with any verve." -- Car and Driver
  • "Furthermore, the sport mode button is not merely ornamental. When employed, the car holds gears longer, and, when shifted manually (by tapping the shifter in the Sport or Touring trim, or using paddles in the Grand Touring trim), it doesn't dump you out of them before you give the order." -- Road and Track
  • "My biggest initial concern -- a lack of power -- turned out to be for naught. The CX-3 gets off the line quick enough around town and nicely accelerates to highway speeds. There's plenty of passing power too, as I learned in what's pretty much a perfect example of a worst-case scenario: on the highway, passing two eighteen-wheelers, uphill, at 4,000 feet, and in 95-degree desert heat. Not too shabby. The six-speed automatic is pretty good too, though it does try to spend as much time as possible in sixth gear." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

Test drivers praise the 2016 Mazda CX-3's agile handling, precise steering and fun driving dynamics. They also appreciate that its ride is comfortable over rough patches of road. The all-new CX-3 comes standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "The CX-3 was a joy to drive on the freeway and over moderately bad pavement. It dispatched bumps and lumps generally well, its solid sounds those of a well-welded and well-fastened vehicle. And the handling, especially for a crossover, inspires confidence." -- Motor Trend
  • "Although it exhibits more body roll than most lower-slung sedans, our test driver called it one of the best-handling small SUVs and was impressed by its sharp steering. That steering feels natural, whether making a turn into the grocery store or carving a line through a sweeping highway on-ramp. Those who care about these kinds of things will appreciate the feedback the CX-3 gives to the driver through the steering wheel." -- Edmunds
  • "The ride is pleasantly compliant for commutes, the amount of feedback from the electric power steering would make some BMWs blush, and the overall comportment is balanced and responsive." -- Car and Driver
  • "Through judicious timing we did get maybe five or 10 corners at speed and found the CX-3 showed very little roll and no plowing, even though we were pushing it pretty hard for a non-premium subcompact CUV." -- AutoWeek
  • "Once you get it out onto some good roads, it's really no contest. The CX-3 is as happy as a golden retriever puppy with a new tennis ball when the roads get twisty. It's well balanced and predictable as it transfers weight through winding sections. The platform provides good road feel, even with electric power steering." -- Road and Track

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