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2021 Mazda CX-30 Review

The 2021 Mazda CX-30 is a compact SUV/crossover that’s attractive, modern, and upscale. It’s certain to become one of Mazda’s top sellers over the next few years.

The CX-30 doesn’t bring anything particularly revolutionary to the Mazda lineup, but its size is interesting, slotting between the subcompact CX-3 and the conventionally compact CX-5 crossovers. For some people, then, it could have the ideal dimensions.

The excellent Mazda3 compact car provides the foundation for the CX-30, along with many other components and features, including all-wheel drive. The happy result is a small, semi-premium vehicle with refined driving dynamics, a raised ride height, and styling that would still look absolutely right if it was wearing the badge of a luxury marque.

The CX-30’s body cladding might seem overdone to some, but it’s an attractive contender in a class that’s growing ever more popular. And it’s a Mazda, one of the industry’s leaders in terms of interior refinement, overall value, and driver engagement.

What’s New for 2021?

For 2021, Mazda calls the 186-horsepower 2021 CX-30 the “CX-30 2.5 S” which essentially commits it to an engine size (a strategy that’s never worked out all that well for Mercedes-Benz or BMW). Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration becomes standard throughout the range. The Preferred version gains a powered moonroof. The top Premium model is now the point where navigation, a shark fin antenna, satellite radio, and a Bose 12-speaker audio system upgrade become available.

The Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo, new for 2021, will net you 250 hp on 93-octane fuel (or 227 with regular 87 octane). Highlights on the new 2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo include standard i-Activ all-wheel drive and a 12-speaker Bose audio system. To smarten up the 2.5 Turbo’s exterior look, Mazda adds 18-inch black aluminum-alloy wheels, larger exhaust pipes, and gloss-black outside mirrors. See the 2021 Mazda CX-30 models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Upscale exterior design
  • Luxurious interior, especially in the upper trims
  • Standard 8.8-in center screen
  • Great handling
  • Smooth ride
  • Quiet cabin
  • New CX-30 2.5 Turbo model

What We Don’t

  • Excessive body cladding
  • No Skyactiv-X engine option
  • Not enough differentiation from the Mazda3 Hatchback
  • Small fuel tank (12.7 gallons with AWD)

How Much?

$21,900 – $33,900 (excluding destination fee)

Fuel Economy

The 2021 CX-30 has a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine making 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. This is linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), versions of the CX-30 with the standard front-wheel-drive setup return 25 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined. The optional all-wheel-drive system results in 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.

In the “What We Don’t Like” section above, we mentioned how Mazda’s excellent Skyactiv-X engine is not available in the CX-30. This unit features the company’s new compression-ignition technology that brings greater fuel efficiency.

The new CX-30 2.5 Turbo packs Mazda’s turbocharged Skyactiv-G 4-cylinder engine that delivers 227 hp and a healthy 310 lb-ft of torque on 87 octane gasoline. Those figures rise to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque if you feel the urge to shop around for 93 octane gas. The CX-30 2.5 Turbo is rated by the EPA at 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.

Standard Features and Options

The 2021 Mazda CX-30 comes in base, Select, Preferred and Premium forms.

All-wheel drive, available at all trim levels, costs an additional $1,400 on non-turbo models, but will come standard on the CX-30 2.5 Turbo.

The base CX-30 ($21,900) has 16-in alloy wheels, power mirrors, LED headlights/taillights/daytime running lights, rain-sensing wipers, rear spoiler, air conditioning, cloth-covered sport seats, push-button start, power windows with one-touch up/down, power door locks, 7-inch LCD meter display, 8-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, 8.8-in infotainment system with available Mazda Connect services including a 4G LTE connection, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, dual USB audio ports, a 12-volt power outlet, steering wheel-mounted audio/cruise controls, 60/40 split/folding second-row seat, and an electronic parking brake.

All the CX-30’s available active safety features (outlined in the safety section below) are standard in this base version except for blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, which comes in at the next level.

CX-30 Select ($23,900) brings 18-in alloy wheels, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, rear privacy glass, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear AC vents, simulated leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel/gear selector, keyless entry/ignition, and a rear center armrest with cup holders.

CX-30 Preferred ($26,300) adds memory settings for the sideview mirrors, powered moonroof, gloss finish for the grille, 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar and 2-position memory, heated front seats, plus an overhead console with a sunglasses holder and illuminated vanity mirrors in the front shades.

The top-spec CX-30 Premium ($28,550) comes with LED headlights and taillights featuring a trim-specific lighting signature, adaptive front lighting, powered liftgate, roof rails, shark fin antenna, a head-up display, perforated leather seats, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for the transmission, 12-speaker Bose audio (with black gloss finishes for the front speaker grilles), navigation, and satellite radio.

On to the CX-30 2.5 Turbo models, the standard Turbo edition ($29,900) comes with LED exterior lighting, an 8.8-inch infotainment screen, 18-inch black alloy wheels, and several active driver safety assistance features, plus, of course, the turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive.

The CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium ($32,300) adds a Bose 12-speaker audio system, paddle shifters, a power liftgate, traffic sign recognition, adaptive front headlights, and navigation.

The CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus ($33,900) then adds automatic emergency braking and rear cross-traffic braking in Reverse gear, Traffic Jam Assist with supplemental steering inputs under 40 mph, 360-degree view monitoring when parking, and an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror.

Safety

The CX-30 has an array of active safety features. Automatic emergency braking, full-speed radar-based cruise control, lane-departure warning/lane-keeping assistance, and automatic high beams are all standard. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is on all but the base trim.

Additional safety features include the usual stability control/traction control, child seat anchors, engine immobilizer anti-theft system, and front, side, side-curtain, and front knee airbags.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the CX-30 its top 5-star ratings for driver and front passenger protection, leading to a maximum score of five stars overall. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the CX-30 high scores in all its impact protection categories and made it a Top Safety Pick.

Behind the Wheel

We expect an engaging driving experience every time we get behind the wheel of a Mazda and the CX-30 delivers. The handling is dialed in, the ride is comfortable and the overall experience is polished. The CX-30 has smart ergonomics, calming aesthetics, and tuning that minimizes noise, vibration, and harshness.

Prospective buyers will appreciate the CX-30’s muscular 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. That’s more power than the competition, but fuel economy takes a hit. Some will prefer the extra punch, others will like smaller gas bills.

The 6-speed automatic transmission is also something to appreciate, since many competitors have shifted toward loud, droning CVTs in the interest of optimum fuel economy.

The quality of the cabin’s materials is high. Upper trims have perforated leather in black, white or a distinct blue. Lower trims offer fabric or simulated leather in grey/beige or black color schemes.

The CX-30’s high beltline is immediately noticeable. The door panels might seem high and the window openings narrow to all but the tallest drivers. This is less of a criticism, though, and more of an observation. A light-colored headliner helps the cabin feel more airy and open.

As the CX-30 is based heavily on the Mazda3, the two vehicles have a lot in common. Such as powertrains, steering wheels, gauge clusters, center consoles, climate controls, infotainment systems, switchgear, and more. Which is no bad thing.

Cargo volume is also close. The CX-30 ranges from 20.2 to 45.2 cubic feet (with the rear seats folded down), the Mazda3 Hatchback has 20.1 to 47.1 cubic feet.

Autotrader recently sampled a new 2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo. Our findings:

This new CX-30 2.5 Turbo feels every bit as sporty as the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo, aided by abundant low-end torque, a smooth progression of power, and an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that sends more power to the rear wheels during acceleration. While the suspension might be a bit too firm for some, the CX-30 2.5 Turbo relishes roads with curves, especially when you’re in Sport mode and keeping the paddle shifters busy.

Besides helping to keep the CX-30 moving on slippery and snowy roads, the 2.5 Turbo’s AWD is tuned to aid vehicle agility. When the CX-30 2.5 Turbo is turned into a corner, the AWD system disconnects momentarily, increasing the weight on the front wheels and making the turning response shaper. In mid-corner, power again goes rearward, enabling the CX-30 2.5 Turbo to blast out of the turn with excellent composure.

The torque split to the CX-30 2.5 Turbo’s rear wheels is constantly changing, and multiple sensors determine where it’s best used. It’s not unusual to see 50 percent of the power rearward, which adds to the sporting appeal of this Mazda.

While the CX-30 2.5 Turbo is by no means a hardcore offroader, the AWD system allows a little bit of dirt exploring, provided there’s enough clearance. The CX-30 2.5 Turbo has no limited-slip differential in front or back, but the traction control will apply the brakes to a spinning wheel, thereby sending power to the other wheel with better traction.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Hyundai Kona — Although shaped like the rest of its segment, the Kona offers a little extra. Its optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine/7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission combination provides an entertaining drive. Many of Hyundai’s smart design elements are also exhibited here.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek — A lifted Impreza hatchback with added body cladding, the Crosstrek has all-wheel drive as standard, great safety features, and respectable fuel economy. The CX-30 aims for luxury, the Crosstrek goes for a more rugged vibe.

2021 Honda HR-V — Through some mastery of the dark arts of automotive interior packaging, the HR-V (considered a subcompact) is roomier than the CX-30. It will probably hold its value better as well. The styling won’t excite, but the sensibleness might.

2021 Mazda3 Hatchback— The Mazda3 Hatchback and CX-30 are mechanical siblings. Given that both are available with all-wheel drive and have similar cargo volumes, some might prefer the dynamic edge of the Mazda3 hatch and its lower center of gravity. Plus the fact that it’s not a ubiquitous crossover.

Used Mazda CX-5 — The current generation of CX-5 is exceptionally well rounded, offering space, luxury, and excellent driving dynamics. It’s been on sale in its current form since the 2017 model year, so isn’t hard to find a used example that’s virtually as good as new. Check Mazda’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program.

Questions You May Ask

What is the 2021 Mazda CX-30 compared to?
Some of the roomier subcompacts like the Honda HR-V and Subaru Crosstrek. Mazda also (perhaps cheekily) puts it against the Lexus UX 200. That’s not over-ambitious, because the CX-30 has more power than the UX, plus an extraordinary amount of refinement for what is considered a non-luxury vehicle.

Is the CX-30 replacing the CX-3?
Not for the foreseeable future. Considering how crazy-popular every kind of crossover is right now, it makes sense to offer as many different variations on that theme as possible. The CX-30 might replace the CX-3 in some buyer’s minds, though, because it offers more practicality.

How old is the 2021 Mazda CX-30?
As fresh as the morning dew. It launched just last year. And the car on which it’s based — the Mazda3 — only had its current generation debut in 2019.

Autotrader’s Advice

Select trim works for us. It has blind-spot monitoring, nicer wheels, and simulated leather upholstery. It’s disappointing that items like the powered liftgate are reserved for the top Premium trim, but we can live without that Bose audio system. If you’re feeling a little power-hungry, and you like speed complemented by a high degree of refinement, make a point of testing the boosted CX-30 2.5 Turbo. Find a Mazda CX-30 for sale

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