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2019 Mazda CX-3 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.7

Performance is one of the 2019 Mazda CX-3’s strongest aspects. With its energetic acceleration, smooth transmission, strong brakes, and agile handling, the CX-3 is a good subcompact crossover SUV. It also has exceptional fuel economy estimates and a comfortable ride.

  • "Performance is a CX-3 strong point. This is the most fun crossover to drive in this segment. Although it feels slow compared to most cars these days, it's actually 'speedy' among subcompact crossovers. Handling is sharp and responsive, and it's easy to drive the CX-3 in the city." -- 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 only powertrain available in the 2019 CX-3 is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. With a 148-horsepower rating, this engine is slightly more powerful than previous models. The CX-3 accelerates faster than many subcompact SUVs, and the transmission shifts smoothly and timely. Some models have steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters that let you choose when to change gears.

The front-wheel-drive CX-3 earns some of the highest fuel economy estimates in the class: 29 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. All-wheel-drive models lose 2 mpg in both city and highway driving.

  • "The quick-shifting automatic transmission is responsive. In low-speed driving, it can hunt around a bit, although Sport mode helps. The CX-3 is easy to maneuver in tight spaces." -- Edmunds
  • “Engine improvements include a couple of extra horses in output. It doesn't turn the 2019 CX-3 into a rocket sled, but the relatively modest 148 horsepower is only part of a larger equation that includes well-calibrated suspension and steering systems. That said, some contenders are appreciably slower in the sprint from standstill to 60 mph. … The 2019 CX-3 does it in around eight, making this the driver's choice among subcompact-crossover SUVs." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It's one of the peppiest powertrains in the subcompact SUV class – especially when pulling away from a stop." -- Consumer Guide (2018)

Handling and Braking

The CX-3 shines on the road. It has poised handling around turns, and its responsive steering gives you ample feedback. Nimble and adept, this Mazda is perfectly suited for driving along twisty roads, and it’s comfortable enough as a daily driver. The CX-3 comes standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "The steering feels perfectly natural. It's nicely weighted, and there's good feedback through the wheel. The CX-3 turns in quickly without ever being twitchy and feels just as light and small as it is." -- Edmunds
  • "While no speed demon, the subcompact CX-3 reminds us that adept handling and communicative steering can be just as satisfying as an abundance of horsepower." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "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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