2018 Mazda CX-3

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MSRP: $20,110 - 26,415

2018 Mazda CX-3 Review

The 2018 Mazda CX-3 ranks near the top of the subcompact SUV class because it offers an excellent combination of athletic performance, interior refinement, and good safety scores.

Pros & Cons

  • Sporty handling
  • Great gas mileage
  • Upmarket interior
  • Limited cargo room
  • Small back seat
  • Below-average predicted reliability rating

New for 2018

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

Is the Mazda CX-3 a Good SUV?

The CX-3 is a great small crossover. Sporty performance is the real highlight of this SUV, thanks to its lithe handling and eager, fuel-efficient engine. The CX-3 continues to impress inside, with luxurious styling, top-notch materials, and a long list of features. Safety is another of the CX-3's strong suits. This crossover earns good crash test scores and is available with many advanced safety features. Its one clearly discernable flaw is a below-average predicted reliability score. Still, we named the CX-3 a finalist for our 2018 Best Subcompact SUV for the Money award because of its value and quality.

Should I Buy the Mazda CX-3

The CX-3 should be on your shopping list if you're considering a subcompact SUV. It's priced competitively and has a lot to offer. However, if you need lots of space in the back for passengers or cargo, you will be better served by a roomier competitor like the Honda HR-V.

Compare the CX-3 and HR-V »

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

The CX-3 was introduced as an all-new model for 2016. There weren't any major changes for 2017, but the 2018 CX-3 gets an updated suspension, adds low-speed automatic emergency braking as standard, and receives new available features like a heated steering wheel and a power-adjustable driver's seat.

You can potentially save 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 2016 and 2017 models. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 CX-3 »

We Did the Research for You: 32 Pieces of Data Analyzed

We analyzed 32 Mazda CX-3 reviews to give you an idea of this SUV’s pros and cons. We’ve also included information on fuel economy, safety, and reliability to help you decide if the 2018 CX-3 is the right SUV for you.

This overview uses applicable research and reviews from every year of the current generation, which spans the 2016 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our editorial staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. To keep our reviews impartial, we don't accept expensive trips or gifts from car companies, and an external partner places and sells the ads on our site.

How Much Does the Mazda CX-3 Cost?

With prices starting at $20,110, the CX-3 has one of the lowest base prices in the subcompact SUV class. A few competitors are cheaper, but the CX-3's long list of features, great fuel economy, and eager performance make it a great value. The top-of-the-line CX-3 Grand Touring is priced at $25,165, 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 Honda HR-V is a more functional subcompact SUV than the CX-3, though it's not as fun to drive. The HR-V offers roomier back seats and much more cargo space than the CX-3, but the two earn similar crash test scores. If you enjoy spirited driving, you'll want to stick with the Mazda, since the HR-V has an underpowered engine.

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

The CX-3's bigger brother, the Mazda CX-5, is a compact SUV with a lot more space. If you can afford the larger model – which costs a couple thousand dollars more – you'll be rewarded with an adult-friendly second row with plenty of head-, shoulder-, and legroom. The CX-5 has nearly three times as much cargo space behind the seats as the CX-3. Otherwise, the models are very similar, with great fuel economy, high safety scores, nimble handling, and eager engines.

Compare the CX-3, HR-V, and CX-5 »

CX-3 Interior

How Many People Does the CX-3 Seat?

There are seats for five in the CX-3. The front seats are spacious and supportive, with plenty of side bolstering to hold you in place while turning. Tall passengers won’t find the back seats very accommodating, as headroom is only adequate and legroom is very poor. Base models have cloth upholstery, while higher trims have leather or leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, or a heated steering wheel.

CX-3 and Car Seats

Each of the outboard rear seats has a full set of LATCH connectors, while the middle rear seat has only an upper tether anchor.

CX-3 Interior Quality

Step inside the CX-3's cabin and you may feel like you're in a much pricier model. The interior design is modern and driver-focused, and it's fitted with premium materials. All models in the range, even the base trim, are more upscale than the cabins of most other subcompact rivals.

CX-3 Cargo Space

The CX-3 has very little cargo space for the class: just 12.4 cubic feet of space behind the back seats and 44.5 cubic feet with the seats folded. Many hatchbacks offer more cargo room than this SUV. The cargo floor is also high, which makes it difficult to load your items. There aren't many small storage spaces to stow your personal belongings, either.

CX-3 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

All trims have the Mazda Connect infotainment system, which includes a 7-inch touch screen, a console-mounted control knob, and Bluetooth. Notably missing are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, which are available in many competitors. Mazda Connect is mostly easy to use after you become familiar with it. Still, you have to go through multiple steps using both the touch screen and control knob to access some features. The screen's high position on the dash puts it easily in view. Navigation is only available in the top Grand Touring trim.

Read more about interior »

CX-3 Performance

CX-3 Engine: Peppy Power

A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an automatic transmission powers the CX-3. It's an eager setup that helps the CX-3 feel quick, especially when pulling away from a stop. The engine can make unpleasant noises under heavy acceleration, but the automatic transmission makes smooth, timely shifts just when more power is needed.

CX-3 Gas Mileage: Excellent for a Subcompact SUV

The CX-3 is one of the most fuel-efficient crossovers in the class, getting up to 29 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with standard front-wheel drive. All-wheel-drive models lose a couple of miles per gallon both in the city and on the highway.

CX-3 Ride and Handling: Dynamic Handling

Twisty stretches of pavement are a pleasure in the CX-3, as it’s among the sportiest handling subcompact SUVs in our rankings. The CX-3 has little body roll when taking turns at speed, and there's plenty of feedback from the power steering system. Over rough roads, the CX-3 is nicely cushioned to keep you comfortable. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional.

Read more about performance »

CX-3 Reliability

Is the Mazda CX-3 Reliable?

The 2018 CX-3 has a predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five. Three is considered an average rating across the industry.

Mazda CX-3 Warranty

Mazda covers the 2018 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 CX-3 earns top-tier safety scores, with five out of five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned five stars in front and side crash tests, and four stars in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2018 CX-3 a Top Safety Pick. It received the highest rating of Good in all conducted crash tests.

CX-3 Safety Features

All models come standard with a rearview camera and low-speed automatic emergency braking, which usually costs extra in rivals. More advanced driver assistance systems are available, including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a traffic sign recognition system.

Read more about safety »

Which Mazda CX-3 Model Is Right for Me?

The base CX-3 Sport is among the cheapest models in the class, and it offers a great value with its numerous standard features. We recommend saving your money and staying with this trim unless you want more advanced driver assistance features. If you want a full suite of advanced safety systems, you'll need to buy the Grand Touring and add the available option package. All trim levels are standard with a four-cylinder engine, an automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. You can get all-wheel drive instead for $1,250 in all trims.

Mazda CX-3 Sport

The base CX-3 Sport starts at $20,110, and comes standard with cloth upholstery, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch-screen display, a rearview camera, and low-speed automatic emergency braking.

Mazda CX-3 Touring

Starting at $22,195, the Touring trim adds leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, automatic climate control, a proximity key, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. 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 $25,165) tops out the range. It adds leather upholstery, a moonroof, a seven-speaker Bose sound system, satellite radio, navigation, and a head-up display. The Premium package, available for $1,435, has a power-adjustable driver’s seat, a heated steering wheel, a traffic sign recognition system, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.

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 2017 Mazda CX-3 specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Mazda CX-3 deserves its place near the top of our rankings (and buyers’ shopping lists) because it is a great option in the subcompact SUV class. It offers sportier performance and a more luxurious cabin than most competitors. It beats many rivals' safety scores and fuel economy estimates, too. Just note that if you find the CX-3’s back seats and cargo area too small, an alternative like the Honda HR-V or Mazda CX-5 may be 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.

  • "Many compact crossover SUVs aren't so 'compact' anymore. But the petite 2017 Mazda CX-3 might be just what you're after. It's stylish, easy to park and fun to drive. If interior space isn't a priority, this could be your ideal crossover." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "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)
  • "After a few hours behind the wheel, we were quite impressed with the 2016 Mazda CX-3. It's yet another attractive, fun-to-drive, sophisticated car from Mazda. But then we realized something: Mazda already sells a great small hatchback. It's called the Mazda3. As we thought more about the new CX-3, we struggled to see any tangible benefits of stepping up to this crossover, other than the availability of all-wheel drive." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)
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