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2018 Mazda CX-3 Review

The 2018 Mazda CX-3 is one of our top-ranked subcompact SUVs. There's a lot to like about this crossover, including its sporty driving dynamics and upscale interior.

Pros & Cons

  • Upscale cabin
  • Sporty handling
  • Great gas mileage
  • Less cargo space than rivals
  • Small backseat

New for 2018

  • Retuned suspension
  • Low-speed automatic emergency braking became standard
  • Heated steering wheel and power-adjustable driver’s seat became available

Rankings & Awards

The 2018 Mazda CX-3's #4 ranking is based on its score within the 2018 Affordable Subcompact SUVs category. It was a finalist for our 2018 Best Subcompact SUV for the Money award. Currently the Mazda CX-3 has a score of 8.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 27 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 8.7
Performance: 8.7
Interior: 6.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.9
Safety: 9.8
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Mazda CX-3 Overview

Is the 2018 Mazda CX-3 a Good Used SUV?

Yes, the 2018 Mazda CX-3 is a good used SUV inside and out. The cabin looks so upscale that it wouldn't seem out of place in a luxury SUV, and there are plenty of tech features. The CX-3 is engaging and athletic on the road, and it's more fuel efficient than many of its class rivals. In fact, this Mazda's combination of all-around quality and value helped make it a finalist for our Best Subcompact SUV for the Money award.

The CX-3 has some appealing strengths:

  • Arguably the most fun-to-drive crossover in the class
  • Great gas mileage
  • More upscale cabin than most classmates

It doesn't have many weaknesses:

  • Rear seat not adult-friendly
  • Less cargo space than many competitors
Why You Can Trust Us

Our Mazda CX-3 review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 31 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

The U.S. News Best Cars team has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than a combined 75 years of automotive industry experience. To ensure our impartiality, we never accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2018 Mazda CX-3?

There are about 100 listings for the 2018 Mazda CX-3 on our site, with an average list price of $20,800. Prices range from $16,600 to $24,500 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Mazda CX-3 Cost to Own?

The 2018 CX-3’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be about $22,725, or $4,545 per year. That’s about average for a subcompact SUV.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Mazda CX-3?

The 2018 and 2019 CX-3 belong to the same generation and are similar in most ways. However, there are a couple of notable changes for 2019. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert were optional for 2018, but they are now standard for 2019. Mazda also restyled the exterior for the new model year.

Read about the new Mazda CX-3 »

Mazda introduced the CX-3 for the 2016 model year, and the crossover still awaits its first redesign. There were no major changes for 2017, but the 2018 model received some minor updates. These include a retuned suspension and low-speed braking as standard features, as well as a couple of new available seating options. That means that you can likely save thousands of dollars with a used 2016 or 2017 CX-3, provided you can live without the few changes made in newer versions.

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

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Mazda CX-3?

J.D. Power gives the 2018 CX-3 a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Read more about CX-3 reliability »

2018 Mazda CX-3 Recalls

No recalls have been issued for the 2018 Mazda CX-3 as of this writing.

See more information on Mazda CX-3 safety recalls »

Which Used Mazda CX-3 Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Mazda CX-3 comes in three trims: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. The base trim offers some nice infotainment features, but the midlevel Touring is an even better option. It comes with additional comfort and active safety features like heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

  • Mazda CX-3 Sport: The base Sport trim comes with cloth upholstery, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, a rearview camera, and low-speed automatic emergency braking.
  • Mazda CX-3 Touring: The Touring trim adds synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic climate control, a proximity key, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.
  • Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring: The Grand Touring model tops out the range. It adds leather upholstery, a moonroof, a seven-speaker Bose sound system, satellite radio, navigation, and a head-up display.

See 2018 Mazda CX-3 trims and specs »

What Does Mazda's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Mazda offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles six years old or less and with fewer than 80,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. For each certified pre-owned vehicle, Mazda extends the original limited powertrain warranty to seven years from the original sale date or 100,000 miles and provides a one-year/12,000-mile limited warranty after the expiration of the original three-year/36,000-mile warranty. Every CPO Mazda must pass a 160-point inspection. Additional benefits may include towing, a 90-day complimentary SiriusXM satellite radio trial subscription, extended coverage, and roadside assistance, so read the Mazda warranty page carefully.

Mazda’s CPO program is about average for an affordable auto manufacturer, according to our research. Chevy, Hyundai, and Kia all have better programs.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Mazda CX-3?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the CX-3 a 2018 Top Safety Pick. The CX-3 received the highest rating of Good in all crash tests conducted. It also received the highest rating of Superior for front crash prevention, as well as the second-highest rating of Acceptable for how well the headlights illuminate the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 CX-3 an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. It received five stars in the frontal and side crash tests, as well as four stars in the rollover test.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • low-speed automatic emergency braking

Available advanced safety features:

  • head-up display
  • traffic sign recognition
  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • adaptive cruise control
  • forward collision warning
  • lane departure warning

See CX-3 safety scores »

2018 Mazda CX-3 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Mazda CX-3 or 2018 Honda HR-V?

The 2018 Honda HR-V doesn't rank as high as the CX-3 in the subcompact SUV class. The Honda provides more cargo room than its Mazda rival, and its rear seats are more accommodating. However, the CX-3 comes with a few more standard features, including a touch screen. Both SUVs get good fuel economy, but the CX-3 is far sportier.

Which Is Better: 2018 Mazda CX-3 or 2018 Mazda CX-5?

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 is a compact SUV, and it's essentially the CX-3's big brother. Both of these Mazdas have quality interiors and good fuel economy, and they are more fun to drive than many rivals. The CX-5 provides more passenger space, especially in the rear seats, and it has more cargo room. It also costs a bit more than the CX-3, so you'll have to decide if the extra space is worth the money.

Compare the CX-3, HR-V, and CX-5 »

2018 Mazda CX-3 Performance

How Does the 2018 Mazda CX-3 Drive?

Hit the gas, and the engine drones a bit, but it's energetic enough to move the CX-3 quickly off the line. The best part of driving this Mazda is its handling, though. This athletic crossover has responsive steering and feels planted around turns. It also delivers a smooth ride.

  • Base engine: 146-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive.
  • Transmission: six-speed automatic
Does the 2018 Mazda CX-3 Get Good Gas Mileage?

The CX-3 gets better gas mileage than many of its classmates.

  • FWD: 29/34 mpg city/ highway
  • AWD: 27/32 mpg

Read more about CX-3 performance »

2018 CX-3 Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 CX-3 Seat?

The 2018 CX-3 seats five people in two rows. The entire cabin exudes a luxurious vibe thanks to the quality materials that front-seat passengers will enjoy most. The comfortable front seats do a good job holding you in place during more spirited driving. There's also plenty of head- and legroom. The story is different in the back, where there's not much legroom, leaving most adults feeling cramped.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth upholstery

Available seating features:

  • leather or synthetic leather upholstery
  • heated front seats
  • power-adjustable driver seat
  • heated steering wheel
How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Mazda CX-3?

The 2018 CX-3 has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat. The middle seat also has the ability to borrow lower anchors from the adjoining seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CX-3's LATCH system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for ease of use. The lower anchors are set deep in the seat, but the tether anchors are easy to find. Most types of car seats fit reasonably well.

2018 Mazda CX-3 Features

This Mazda's infotainment system comes with an easy-to-see touch screen, but there are physical controls for some functions as well. No matter how you change the settings, the system is easy to use after a small learning curve. Still, some settings are buried under several layers of menus.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system, a six-speaker audio system, and Bluetooth
  • Available infotainment features: a seven-speaker Bose sound system, satellite radio, HD Radio, and navigation
  • Other available features: a moonroof and automatic climate control

See 2018 Mazda CX-3 specs »

Read more about CX-3 interior »

2018 Mazda CX-3 Dimensions

Mazda CX-3 Cargo Space

With its rear seats up, the CX-3 gives you 12.4 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold them down, and you get 44.5 cubes. These are below-average totals for a subcompact SUV. What's worse, the cargo floor’s liftover height is high, which can make it tough to load heavy items.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Mazda CX-3 Length and Weight
  • Length: 14 feet
  • Curb weight: 2,809 to 2,952 pounds
  • Gross vehicle weight rating: 3,840 to 3,990 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Mazda CX-3 Built?

Mazda built the CX-3 in Japan.

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