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August 15, 2018
Driving Dynamics
2019 Mazda 1203 CX-3 31489 400866
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The 2019 Mazda CX-3 is pitched as a small crossover vehicle, but there’s a lot of hatchback in its smart profile and its car-like handling.

This year, the CX-3 adopts a revamped grille. It carries over its 148-horsepower 4-cylinder engine and its 6-speed automatic. It also brings back the lively handling that’s been a trademark since it was new, with crisp steering and a firm suspension.

The EPA rates the CX-3 at 29 mpg city, 34 highway, 31 combined; with all-wheel drive and its extra 150 pounds, it gets 2 mpg less.

The IIHS gives the CX-3 ΓÇ£GoodΓÇ¥ scores in every test, and calls the available LED headlights “Acceptable.ΓÇ¥ It calls the CX-3 a Top Safety Pick. The NHTSA gives it five stars overall. Low-speed automatic emergency braking is standard on every model, while Sport and Touring editions can be optioned with a full-speed system, which is standard on the Grand Touring.

Model Lineup

The 2019 CX-3 is priced from about $21,000 to more than $28,000.

The base CX-3 Sport comes standard power features, 16-inch wheels, keyless ignition, cloth upholstery, a 7.0-inch infotainment system with touchscreen, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, blind-spot monitors, and low-speed automatic emergency braking with forward-collision warnings. Bundled options include adaptive cruise control, full-speed automatic emergency braking, LED headlights, and lane-departure warnings.

The Touring adds synthetic leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, automatic climate control, blind-spot monitors, LED headlights, and heated front seats. An option package adds Bose audio, satellite radio, and a moonroof.

Grand Touring adds the safety package, leather, and navigation.


The CX-3 carries smart hatchback style and raises it a few inches. Its curves are subtle; the roofline and rising beltline are straightforward and engaging. The creases on the hood and lines on the doors seem to move light around the body in an intriguing manner.

The black trim instead of chrome around the windows is handsome. The big 18-inch wheels on the Touring give it an impressive stance.


The cabin offers high-quality materials that are both soft and rugged; they look richer than the price. The controls are clean and neat.

As for interior space, the CX-3 is a small car, but in front, it’s roomy enough. The back seat is sized for smaller passengers, as it’s based on a compact car. Cargo space is on the lean side as well, with 12.4 cubic feet behind the rear seatsΓÇöbut it expands to more than 44 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

Driving Impressions

For 2019, the 2.0-liter engine gets an increase in horsepower: from 146 hp to 148 hp. The 6-speed automatic transmission gets paddle shifters on the Grand Touring. The combination is tuned for economy, but sounds pleasant enough to paddle through the gears.

The CX-3 handles like it’s related to the Mazda Miata MX-5. With crisp steering and a firm ride, it feels nothing like a top-heavy crossover. The all-wheel-drive versions handle even better, with lateral stability thanks to a torque-control system that moves power from the front wheels to rear wheels in corners.


The 2019 Mazda CX-3 offers great handling and looks that remain fresh thanks to stylish sheetmetal and conservative trim. It’s a trim alternative to a more clunky crossover SUVΓÇöa space Mazda fills in particularly well.

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