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Mazda CX-3: Small crossover offers same ‘zoom-zoom’ feel

The 2019 Mazda CX-3 is a refined small crossover that provides a true feeling of elegance, the expected Mazda zoom-zoom performance and a notable level of efficiency. With an outstanding safety record and affordable starting price, Mazda’s CX-3 is a good value in this fast-growing segment.

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Improvements to this successful young addition to the Mazda lineup, the CX-3 gets a new front grille design, new tail lights and wheel options. Mazda says the improved cabin materials include better sound insulation, new full-leather seating surfaces and a standard electronic parking brake that delivers peace of mind.

The funny part about the love affair with the more diminutive SUVs and crossovers is the audacity it takes to say you don’t want to sacrifice anything to get all the advantages. Obviously, something has to give, right?

Not necessarily in Mazda’s eyes.

For 2019, the CX-3 gets upgraded interior options and an impressive powertrain. Available in Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring models, the CX-3 has a great list of standard and optional amenities, while still delivering on the Mazda performance promise.

Take Your Pick

The CX-3 offers a very athletic stance, low-slung nose and my tester featured a bold Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint hue. The base Sport trim has blind spot monitoring and a rear camera with rear cross-traffic alert, power windows and doors, power mirrors, pushbutton start, Bluetooth hands-free calling, and a 7-inch touchscreen.

Select the Sport i-ACTIVSENSE package and you get a full suite of safety technologies like Advanced Smart City Brake Support with pedestrian detection, radar cruise control with stop and go, lane departure warning, high beam control, automatic adaptive headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic climate control.

My upscale Touring model tester had everything plus upgraded wheels, advanced keyless entry, heated leatherette front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. Not bad for a small crossover with some attitude.

Cabin

Inside the cabin full leather seats envelop you with the perfect positions that are assisted by power controls for both driver and passenger. I really appreciated the touch of chrome accents, bright LED lighting, power moon roof, fog lights, navigation, and a heads-up display that rises from the top of the dash when the engine is started.

While this is a small crossover by definition, you never quite feel like you are in something that has the word ‘small’ in its definition. I was very comfortable on short and long trips — and stuck in some pretty nasty I-55 traffic jams.

Front-seat headroom is 38.4 inches, while the back is an impressive 37.2 inches. Three adults can fit in row two, but it’s cramped. Cargo room is 12.4 cubic feet with the second row up, expanding to 44.5 cubic feet if you fold the seats down.

Skyactiv-G

All 2019 CX-3 trims come with a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Offering 148 horsepower and 146 lb.-ft. of torque to the front wheels, don’t miss the chance to add the AWD for a mere $1,400.

My CX-3 tester was a pleasure to push around Chicagoland for a week. It handles crisply, with responsive steering and immediate braking. It sits low, so pushing the CX-3 into a corner hard creates little body roll.

The 2019 CX-3 makes my really short list of fav small crossovers. This is Mazda performance with an impressive safety record and lots of interior comfort. With AWD included, the Sport trim is $21,790, the Touring is $23,875, and the Grand Touring is $27,145. My Grand Touring tester landed at $27,145 with everything.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication