2021 Mazda CX-30
2021 Mazda CX-30
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 is a compact crossover hatchback. It’s built on the Mazda 3 sedan platform, and it’s about the size of the outgoing Mazda CX-3.
Although it’s a bit short on standard features in the base model, the CX-30 offers a surprising amount of space in its footprint, along with a comfortable and quiet cabin with high-quality materials. As a result of its refinement, the CX-30 is the most engaging vehicle in the compact-crossover field.
The base engine is a 2.5-liter inline-4 making 186 horsepower, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with front-wheel drive standard, and all-wheel drive optional. It’s a polished powertrain with good performance.
For 2021 the CX-30 adds a 227-horsepower turbocharged 2.5T, with standard all-wheel drive. Normally aspirated models have been renamed the 2.5S. In the cabin, a big 8.8-inch display screen (it’s not a touchscreen) now comes on every model, and on the top two of three trims, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability have been added to infotainment, along with a three-year trial to connected services and six months of car-based wi-fi.
The 2021 CX-30 with front-wheel drive is rated by the EPA at 25 mpg city, 33 highway, 28 combined. The optional all-wheel-drive versions get about 2 mpg less. The new turbocharged 2.5T with all-wheel drive hasn’t been tested by the EPA yet.
Although the fuel economy is only average, the 2021 Mazda CX-30 aces its crash tests from the IIHS and NHTSA, earning a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS and five stars from the federal government. The IIHS adds that the headlights on the Premium model cause too much glare.
Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. Blind-spot monitors are standard on all but the base model.
The CX-30 comes as the base 2.5 S, Select, and Premium models. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available for $1,400. All-wheel drive will be standard on the 2.5T. Mazda hasn’t announced yet if the new 2.5T will be available in all three trims.
The front-wheel-drive 2.5 S costs $23,000 including destination. Standard equipment includes cloth upholstery, an 8.8-inch infotainment display, 16-inch wheels, and cloth upholstery.
The Select starts at $25,000 and adds synthetic leather upholstery, smartphone software, dual-zone climate control, rear climate vents, 18-inch wheels, and blind-spot monitors.
The $29,650 Premium adds adaptive LED headlights, leather upholstery, navigation, and Bose 12-speaker audio. Options include a wireless charging pad and metallic paint.
Prices for the CX-30 2.5 T haven’t yet been announced.
The CX-30 comes with Mazda’s 3-year/36,000-mile vehicle warranty and 5-year/60,000 powertrain warranty, plus 3-year/36,000 roadside assistance coverage.
Even as a tall compact hatchback with a ground clearance of 8.0 inches, the CX-30 is handsome, sporty, and nicely proportioned. It has some touches of elegance, with cues that appear to be taken from luxury SUVs. It bears a serious-looking face and graceful roofline that slopes rearward as the greenhouse tapers inward.
It offers a lot of curb appeal, with tight creasing on the sides and smooth sheet metal below the beltline. That’s complemented by a small amount of cladding, same as on the larger CX-5.
Compared to rivals, the CX-30’s cabin is serenely quiet and sophisticated. In comfort, space, and general refinement, it’s fantastic. It’s a class above in fit and finish, with a pleasing tactile feel in everything from switchgear to surfaces. The dash wraps around the driver a bit, while the instrument panel is simple and uncluttered, although the base model uses too much high-gloss black plastic that easily smudges and scratches.
The 8.8-inch infotainment display sits atop the dash, although it’s not a touchscreen, as Mazda’s system instead uses a clickwheel controller. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it achieves its purpose: it keeps the driver’s eyes on the road.
The CX-30’s front seats are bolstered well, with a range of adjustability that will suit most body types. The bottom cushions are especially comfortable, and large occupants will be happy.
In the rear, as is unavoidable in cars of this size, three passengers will be squeezed. But two tall passengers will be fine, and will enjoy the contour and legroom of the rear seats.
Cargo space is a solid 20.2 cubic feet behind the second row, and the rear seatbacks flip forward to expose a wide and low load floor.
Outward vision in the CX-30 is good, although the rear roof pillars block the driver’s over-the-shoulder view.
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 is better than the sum of its parts. The way it accelerates with smoothness and steers with precision just fits together as a whole. It has the refined feel and well-damped ride of a larger German crossover.
It doesn’t boast impressive quickness, but it’s fast enough, able to accelerate to 60 mph in about eight seconds, powered by its 186-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline-4, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5T turbo will bring that quickness, with 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.
The standard engine likes to rev, and the 6-speed automatic transmission’s shifts are well spaced and nicely timed. Paddle shifters will appease old-school drivers who might wish a car with these dynamics had a manual transmission. There’s a Sport mode to make the transmission more aggressive. There’s also an Off-road mode, bringing versatility to the CX-30.
The Mazda 3 is known for its handling, and the CX-30 is not only built on the 3’s chassis, it’s brought along the suspension. With shocks and struts in front, and a spring and rear torsion beam in the rear, the CX-30 delivers best-in-class handling. The steering is positive and accurate, quick and light but not twitchy. It’s steady, so the driver doesn’t need to make small adjustments.
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 is beautiful, the powertrain is polished, the handling and ride are impeccable, and the cabin is refined. Want more power? The turbo arrives soon.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection