2019 Mazda CX-3 Review

2019 Mazda CX-3 - The 2019 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD is among the most sporty small crossovers


Price: $27,145

Pros-Stylish. Fun to drive. Nimble. Improved interior. Fuel-efficient. Available all-wheel drive.

Cons-Cramped rear seat. Modest cargo area with upright rear seats.  No remote hatch release.

Bottom Line-Sporty and economical small crossover.  

The 2019 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD is a small crossover that fits right in with America's love affair with crossovers and small SUVs. Moreover, it's fun to drive and economical to run.

This mainly is a car for younger drivers or older ones who don't need much room in the rear and don't want driving to be a chore.

The Mazda CX-3 lineup starts with the front-drive $20,390 Sport model, followed by the $22,475 Touring. I tested the top-line $27,145 CX-3 Grand Touring model with extra-cost all-wheel drive (AWD), a feature offered for all CX-3 models. The Grand Touring costs $25,745 with front-drive. You can get it with a $710 premium option package that contains items including a power driver's seat and heated steering wheel.

The CX-3 is one of the better crossovers when it comes to driving enjoyment, which is a Mazda attribute for all its models.

The Grand Touring's quick steering is precise but becomes somewhat heavy at higher speeds. The car handles curves gracefully. The AWD system helps keep things stable during various driving conditions, and a retuned suspension also helps here, as does the Grand Touring's 50-series tires on 18-inch alloy wheels.The brake pedal has a linear action, which helps make heavy stop/go freeway driving a little more tolerable.

However, I found my test car had a cramped rear seat and only modest cargo room unless the rear seatbacks were flipped forward. Also, the rear hatch has no remote release-I had to grope along the bottom of the hatch to find its release. That's odd because remote releases are common. At least the hatch raises smoothly on hydraulic struts and has an indented inside area to help close it.

Power comes from a 2-liter, 148-horsepower four-cylinder, or two more ponies than the 2018 model posted. Acceleration is decent because the high-rev engine has been refined and works with a responsive six-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift feature featuring paddle shifters. There's a console switch  that allows a "sport" mode. It increases engine revs for quicker acceleration, but is really for spirited driving on winding back roads and such. This mode causes excessive engine revs on highways.

Estimated fuel economy is 29 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on highways with front-drive and 27 and 32 with AWD.

Other new CX-3 features include minor styling changes, which aren't really necessary because the CX-3 already had a slick long-hood/short-rear deck styling theme. Besides a new grille design, there are piano black exterior accents, a new LED combination taillight design and a small rear roofline spoiler. My test car's chromed dual exhaust outlets added to its sporty flair.

The car's optional, striking new optional "Soul Red Crystal Metallic" paint really made it stand out. I can't think a better color for the car.

The interior has been been made quieter and is more upmarket, with nicer materials, chrome interior accents and a redesigned console with a fairly large storage area and armrest. My top-line test car had full leather seating with new pleated piping, automatic climate control, backup camera  and a power glass sunroof.

The fully redesigned front seats were nicely supportive and other standard features included air conditioning, a Bose 7-speaker audio system and a 7-inch full color touchscreen display that took some getting used to. Happily, there are large redundant manual dashboard controls for the climate control system. The start/stop engine button beats fooling around with an ignition key, but is buried behind the steering wheel. That's the problem with smaller cars-there's only so much room to conveniently put all controls in plain sight on the dashboard.

The sporty nature of the CX-3 Grand Touring AWD was illustrated by the large tachometer directly in front of the driver. The digital speedometer reading standard for the Grand Touring was in a smaller area near the "tach." Speedometer readings also were shown via a windshield heads-up display, which came in my test car in both "m.p.h." and "kilometers." It's easy to switch from one to the other, but I amused myself by using the kilometer readings most of the time because they reminded me of driving during European car previews.

A CX-3 can be had with all sorts of safety features, including pre-collision safety technology that reduces the severity of a collision and radar cruise control with a stop/go function, lane departure warning and a pedestrian protection system.

Those wanting to check the engine oil level under the long hood will find the hood to be extremely heavy and held open only with a prop rod.

The solidly built CX-3 Grand Touring AWD shows that one can get a premium small crossover without cracking the $30,000 mark. Just be sure to check out the Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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