$15,501 - $21,182

2017 Mazda CX-3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Mazda CX-3 was new.


Performance: 8.9

Professional test drivers think that the 2017 Mazda CX-3 is fun to drive and delivers great overall performance. It offers excellent handling and engaging driving dynamics, with enough engine power for regular driving situations. The six-speed automatic transmission aids in quick acceleration.

  • "Few crossovers this inexpensive are this much fun." -- Edmunds
  • “The 2016 Mazda CX-3 handled everything we threw at it with aplomb. Its steering had a satisfying heft to it, the firm but composed suspension tuning made for supremely balanced handling, and the CX-3's overall fluidity and confidence made us want to keep driving it with gusto. It's yet another Mazda that skyrockets to the top of its class in terms of driving pleasure and enjoyment." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)
  • "The Mazda CX-3 is compact, lightweight, and efficient, all of which makes it a pleasure to drive. … No matter the drivetrain, the CX-3 drives well." -- Motor Trend (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The CX-3’s lone engine offering is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 146 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. In standard front-wheel drive configuration, the CX-3 leads the class with an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. An all-wheel drive setup gets 27 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway.

The CX-3’s engine provides decent overall power for both city and highway driving. The transmission delivers strong acceleration from a standstill and gets up to cruising speeds easily, while shifting smoothly.

  • The Mazda's 146-hp engine isn't quite as energetic, offering decent thrust but getting somewhat buzzy above 4,000 rpm. Still, the CX-3's acceleration is better than average and is aided by a surprisingly responsive and crisp-shifting six-speed automatic." -- 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 (2016)
  • "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 (2016)

Handling and Braking

Front-wheel drive is standard in the CX-3 and all-wheel drive is available. The CX-3 features sharp and responsive steering and exhibits little body roll through curves. It also provides a comfortable ride over uneven roads.

  • "With precise steering and alert handling reflexes, the 2017 Mazda CX-3 earns class-topping marks for athleticism in this segment. The only other offering that can rival the Mazda's buoyant fun-to-drive-ness is the Nissan Juke." -- Edmunds
  • "Equally impressive is how true to Mazda's roots the CX-3 is in twisty switchback roads. The CX-3 handles as well as you'd expect of any Mazda, with well-controlled body roll, quick responses, and the perfect amount of heft and effort from the steering. There's a sport mode too, which quickens the steering and throttle responses, holds gears longer, and rev-matches downshifts." -- Motor Trend (2016)
  • "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 (2016)

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