It’s easy to confuse the 2020 Mazda CX-30 with its stablemate, the CX-3. They have practically the same name, after all. They are both subcompact crossovers too. But take a closer look and it’s clear that these two cars are vastly different. For starters, the CX-30 is longer than the CX-3 by almost five inches, making it roomier on the inside. It also has a more powerful engine and a design that skews more toward elegance than economy.
The 2020 Mazda CX-30 is not a replacement for the CX-3. Rather, it’s designed to fill the space between the CX-3 and the larger CX-5. It gives Mazda a compelling new offering in the ultra-competitive subcompact crossover class. Keep reading if you’re in the market for a new subcompact CUV. Or if you just want to know what makes the CX-30 different from the CX-3.
The Mazda CX-30 Vs. the Mazda CX-3
The CX-30 is a brand new model that debuted in 2020. Meanwhile, the CX-3 has been around since 2015. The CX-30 shares the Mazda 3’s platform, making it larger than the CX-3 (which is based on the Mazda 2, the car that provides the underpinnings for the Toyota Yaris in the United States.)
The CX-3 measures 168.3 inches while the CX-30 checks in at 173 inches flat. The larger CX-30 offers more space for both people and cargo. It’s also available in four trim levels, whereas the CX-3 is only really offered in one trim level for 2020. The CX-30 also packs a more powerful engine and a higher base MSRP.
Put simply, the CX-3 is Mazda’s value offering in the subcompact crossover class. The new CX-30 is designed to compete with the segment’s heavyweights like the Honda HR-V, Subaru Crosstrek, and Kia Soul.
Exterior Styling: Inheriting the Good Looks of the Mazda 3
Mazda typically designs really good looking cars. The CX-30 is no exception. Other than the plastic cladding on the sides, there’s nothing in the CX-30’s design that suggests it’s an economy car. LED headlights and LED daytime running lights are standard, as are LED taillights. The sheet metal is simple and unfussy. The overall appearance makes it clear that Mazda was thinking more about targeting drivers with upscale ambitions, rather than a younger age group.
What’s Under the Hood: A Throwback to Simpler Times
Turbocharged engines and continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) are ubiquitous in the subcompact crossover segment. The 2020 Mazda CX-30 is surprisingly available with neither. Instead, the sole engine on offer is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder (plucked from the CX-5) that makes 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels, or all four if quipped, via a six-speed automatic transmission. Independent testing has the CX-30’s 0-to-60 mph time at anywhere from 7.5 seconds to a sluggish nine seconds. Although the CX-30 doesn’t excite off the line, it’s still well-regarded by reviewers as being fun to drive.
The consensus among reviewers is that the CX-30 drives like a Mazda. Translation: The CX-30 has a steering wheel that’s actually responsive and transmits road feel. The suspension system is capable of both absorbing bumps in the road and keeping the crossover firmly planted through bends and curves. The CX-30 might not get off the line quickly, but passing maneuvers can be executed with ease once its up to speed. Especially with the optional paddle shifters.
The front-wheel-drive CX-30 achieves an EPA estimated fuel economy of 25/33/28 mpg (city, highway, combined). The heavier all-wheel-drive CX-30 has two ratings, that vary by trim level: 25/31/26 mpg and 25/32/27 mpg. Those figures are average for the segment. The good news is that the CX-30 might actually perform a bit better in the real world than the EPA gives it credit for. In its testing, Car and Driver found that the AWD CX-30 achieved a combined fuel economy of 28 mpg.
What’s Inside: A Well-Appointed Cabin and Tons of Standard Safety Tech
Mazda is on a mission to make economy cars look (and feel) more upmarket. The CX-30 is some of its best work so far. The list of standard features won’t blow you away, but it’s the look and feel of the cabin that’s important. Reviewers agree that all high-touch areas are made with top-tier materials. While the CX-30 is low on standard luxury features, it does offer white and black leather upholstery, heated and eight-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a power liftgate.
In its review, CarBuzz noted that the five-seat CX-30 could comfortably fit adults (standing six feet and under) in the front seats, which left just enough legroom to squeeze two more adults into the back. Three in the back will be a hurdle, though, unless you’re talking about kids or teens. In terms of storage, the CX-30 has 20.2 cubes behind the rear seats and a max of 45.2 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. Both numbers place this Mazda firmly in the middle of the pack.
All CX-30s come equipped with an 8.8-inch infotainment screen (controlled not by touch but via a rotary knob), an eight-speaker sound system, and Bluetooth. Available tech features include GPS navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a WiFi hotspot, a 12-speaker Bose sound system, and a wireless charging pad. The CX-30 doesn’t offer a ton of tech as standard. The lack of a true touchscreen will certainly put some buyers off. What it does offer, though, is a wealth of standard safety tech and driver’s assistance aids.
All 2020 CX-30s come standard with Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE suite of safety tech and driver’s assistance aids. The package includes a lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist system, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, rain-sensing windshield wipers, forward collision warning, and emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
Optional features include adaptive headlights, a heads-up display, and rear cross-traffic alert. The CX-30’s standard suite of safety tech rivals Subaru and Toyota. It’s one of the most complete in its class.
Pricing and Trim Levels
The 2020 CX-30 is available in four trim levels, all of which can be optioned with AWD. The entry-level model is simply called the CX-30 and it has an MSRP of $21,900. Opting for AWD pushes the price to $23,300.
The next step up is the Select Package, which checks in at $23,900 for the FWD version and $25,300 when equipped with AWD. Standard features include leatherette-trimmed sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, dual-zone automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Above the Select Package is the Prefered Package, which starts at $26,200 ($27,600 with AWD). This trim level features an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support and memory, heated front seats, a Bose 12-speaker audio system, and folding power side mirrors.
At the top of the range is the Premium Package, which starts at $28,200 and maxes out at $29,600 when AWD is added on. The top-tier CX-30 comes with a heads-up display, leather-trimmed sport seats, a power liftgate, paddle shifters, and a power moonroof.
Mazda doesn’t really do option packages, which means that every CX-30 trim level comes pretty well equipped. For what it’s worth, if it were our money, ee’d spend it on the Select Package. It adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, extra safety tech, and just a touch of luxury — all for under $24,000.
The Last Word
Mazda has done something truly impressive with the 2020 CX-30. Despite being one of the newest subcompact crossovers on the market, it’s already one of the top choices in its segment. The CX-30 looks stunning, fun to drive, is priced competitively, and has an impressive amount of standard safety tech. If you’re in the market for a small crossover, you should have the all-new Mazda CX-30 near the top of your list.