2018 Mazda CX-3 Review
2018 Mazda CX-3 Review
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
Used CX-3 for saleAppraise This Car
See Edmunds pricing data
Has Your Car's Value Changed?
Used car values are constantly changing. Edmunds lets you track your vehicle's value over time so you can decide when to sell or trade in.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Senior Editor and Content Strategist, CarMax
Will Kaufman has worked in the automotive industry since 2017. He has written hundreds of car-related articles and reviews over the course of his career. Will is a senior editor and content strategist for CarMax at Edmunds. Will has been featured in the Associated Press and a number of major outlets on the topics of infotainment and vehicle data, vehicle subscription services and autonomous vehicles. Will started his career in online publishing by writing and editing standardized test guides, but he has a lot more fun writing about cars.
- Attractive and comfortable interior
- Engaging driving experience
- Impressive fuel economy for a crossover
- Good selection of available driver aids and active safety features
- Below-average cargo space
- Tight rear seat
- Suspension tuning may be too firm for some
For 2018, low-speed automatic emergency braking is standard across the CX-3 lineup. Mazda says it has revised the CX-3's suspension to improve handling and ride quality and added more sound-reducing materials to make the CX-3 quieter. Small changes have been made to feature availability.
For its third year, the Mazda CX-3 receives a handful of updates that improve on some of its best characteristics. In past years, we praised the CX-3 for being the most enjoyable vehicle in the subcompact crossover SUV segment to drive. For 2018, revisions to the suspension tuning promise an even sharper driving experience. There's also more sound insulation and added low-speed crash protection in the form of a standard automatic emergency braking system. And just like last year, the 2018 CX-3 also boasts an upscale interior, comfortable seats and high fuel economy.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 Mazda CX-3 Sport 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.12 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$125/mo for CX-3 Sport
Avg. Compact SUV
The CX-3 does have a few shortcomings, though, such as a cramped back seat and below-average cargo capacity. If interior space is a priority for you, you might prefer the more versatile Honda HR-V. You could also check out the Jeep Renegade or Subaru Crosstrek for superior off-road capability. All in all, though, we think the CX-3 is a pretty appealing package.
Notably, we picked the 2018 Mazda CX-3 as one of Edmunds' Best Small SUVs for 2018.
Edmunds' Expert Rating7.7 / 10
You'll like how the 2018 Mazda CX-3 combines the petite size of a subcompact with the stance of an SUV. Even better, it's liberally spiced with Mazda's fun-to-drive character and attention to detail. It's a desirable pick for a runabout crossover SUV.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring (2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).
Since this test was conducted, the current Mazda CX-3 has received some revisions, including updated suspension tuning, a quieter cabin and additional standard safety features. Our findings remain applicable to this year's Mazda CX-3, however.
|Overall||7.7 / 10|
Performance is a CX-3 strong point. This is the most fun crossover to drive in this segment. Although it feels slow compared to most cars these days, it's actually "speedy" among subcompact crossovers. Handling is sharp and responsive, and it's easy to drive the CX-3 in the city.
Power is modest in the CX-3, as it is in most of its rivals. It's quick for the class, though, with zero to 60 mph taking 8.5 seconds.
The brakes offer excellent feel. They are firm enough to tell you there is good stopping power but soft enough for easy modulation at stoplights. Emergency braking power is about average, with very good stability.
Steering feels perfectly natural. It's nicely weighted, and there's good feedback through the wheel. The CX-3 turns in quickly without ever feeling twitchy and feels just as light and small as it is.
The CX-3 is lively and responsive to driver inputs. Midcorner bumps don't upset it. You'll forget about the stiff-ish ride on a curvy back road.
The quick-shifting automatic transmission is responsive. In low-speed driving, it can hunt around a bit, although Sport mode helps. The CX-3 is easy to maneuver in tight spaces.
Although we didn't test it, all-wheel drive is available on the CX-3, but it's meant much more as an aid in snow, mud and rain than for any kind of true off-roading.
It's difficult to produce a short-wheelbase, good-handling car that still delivers a decent ride. Mazda did all right with the CX-3, but rivals such as the Honda CR-V are smoother. The front seats are great, though, and other than a loud engine at full throttle, the CX-3 is pretty quiet.
The front seats are fantastic. They are firm yet comfy, with good lateral support for cornering. We love the soft simulated-suede inserts on the Grand Touring model. The door armrests are on the hard side. The rear outboard seats are pretty plush, with a seatback that isn't too upright.
Small pavement ripples are handled well, though some vibrations will enter the cabin. In previous models, we noted that the suspension could feel stiff-legged, but Mazda has made revisions for 2018 and promises that the CX-3 is smoother-riding now.
Noise & vibration7.5
We already thought the CX-3 did a good job handling noise, especially for its class, although the coarse engine note at high rpm (from the 2016 test vehicle) was noticeable. This year's improvements should make the interior even quieter.
The CX-3 relies on a straightforward system that uses clearly labeled dials for manual adjustments. Automatic climate control is now standard on the midlevel Touring as well as the Grand Touring.
We love the look and feel of the CX-3's interior, but not so much the usability of the infotainment screen or the cheesy head-up display. Front-seat space is decent, but rear-seat space is worse than in a Mazda 3.
Ease of use5.0
A 7-inch infotainment screen is standard on all trims, but some functions require extra steps. The beautiful central tach and large digital speedo are pluses, but the head-up display seems like an afterthought. The front seatback adjustment lever requires a firm hand.
Getting in/getting out7.5
The front doors are large and open wide, making it easy to climb in and out. The rear doors are reasonably sized and open wide, but entry is still tight and the raised rear bench means you have to duck your head as you hop in.
Front headroom is quite good, aided by low seat height (for a crossover). Rear headroom isn't bad considering the segment, and average-size adults should be fine. But the rear-seat area is tiny, and it can feel as if the front occupants are sitting on your lap.
The front roof pillars are slim, but thick side pillars can compromise the view, as when pulling out into a T-intersection. The rear pillars are blocky but have helpful triangle windows. A rearview camera is standard on all trims, and the CX-3 has large side mirrors.
Best-in-class build quality with excellent trim graining throughout. The simulated suede trim on the Grand Touring is a nice touch. The CX-3 generally feels solid, although the doors sound hollow and the headliner feels cheap.
Cargo space with the rear seats in place is just 12.4 cubic feet, or 44.5 cubic feet if you fold the seats forward. Other subcompact SUVs are a little roomier. Interior storage could be better as well: There's no center armrest bin, just a tiny square cubby.
Mazda's infotainment system is based around a rotary-dial interface, which is easy enough to learn but can require extra steps for some functions. Bluetooth is standard, as is some app integration, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren't available.
Which CX-3 does Edmunds recommend?
The base Sport trim is a good bargain, but overall we recommend going with the Touring trim. The Touring adds useful safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, conveniences such as automatic climate control and proximity entry, and a few extra interior upgrades. These may seem like small things, but they all add up to improve the CX-3 experience, especially if it will be your daily driver for the next few years
2018 Mazda CX-3 models
The 2018 Mazda CX-3 is available in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The base Sport trim is actually nicely equipped, especially considering its price, but moving up through the trim levels gets you some desirable conveniences and nice luxuries. All trims rely on a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (146 horsepower, 146 pound-feet of torque) paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.
The CX-3 Sport comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, air-conditioning, push-button start, cruise control, Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a USB input, app integration (including Pandora, Stitcher and Aha) and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player. Standard safety features on the base Sport trim include a rearview camera and Mazda's Smart City Brake Support System, which will automatically apply the brakes to avoid a collision as long as the CX-3 is traveling at less than 19 mph.
Moving up to the Touring trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, automatic headlights and automatic wipers. The interior is upgraded with cloth and faux leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, proximity entry, automatic climate control and an overhead console with a sunglass holder. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are also standard on the CX-3 Touring.
The top-tier Grand Touring gets a sunroof, LED exterior lighting (headlights, taillights, foglights, daytime running lights), leather-trimmed seats with simulated suede inserts, a head-up display, steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, navigation, and a seven-speaker Bose sound system with satellite radio.
The Grand Touring's sunroof and Bose stereo can be added to the Touring with the Preferred Equipment package. The Grand Touring can be upgraded with the Premium Package, which includes adaptive cruise control, higher-speed forward collision warning and automatic braking, lane departure warning, a six-way power-adjustable driver seat, driver-seat memory settings, a heated steering wheel and a traffic-sign recognition system.
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
solid tank of a car
Gene O, 07/05/2017
2017 Mazda CX-3 Sport 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
This car feels like a hybrid of a small tank and a porsche. The car handles excellently and because of the way this car handled and steered on a test drive, I picked the CX3 over a subaru crosstrek - an uninspired driving disappointment, by comparison. The CX3 is not quite a utility vehicle. It's more like a station wagon that's a little jacked up higher off the ground and has AWD. It … feels powerful with a 2L engine and has good acceleration if you drop the pedal. In the snow, it bites and drives great. Bad weather is no match - snow, ice, rain - it can handle any of that stuff. Several inches of wet snow and going uphill - barely a slip. It's a little beast. On the highway its smooth sailing and very good MPG. You don't get a huge gas tank - max range is about 295-300 miles. Comfortable interior and lots of USB ports and stuff for phones and other junk you want to plug in. the touch screen has good visibility and all the functions work well - good ergonomics with the console dial, voice control, rear camera and steering wheel buttons. The inside climate control is a little wonky - it's not easy to get it just right for some reason. either you get ice cold air or something that doesn't defrost your glass or something that's hot....odd. Sometimes my kid likes to sit in the middle of the back seat when I drive and he's very close to me there - like a parrot on my shoulder - which I'm not crazy about. The back seats are not huge. He says they're comfortable. A USB port or two back there would be cool instead on me having to run a wire from the front. the cargo area is big enough for me to carry 2 hockey equipment bags for both my kids and most other bulky stuff but it's not huge, either, which is something I happily accept for what the car is. It has a small sub-section under the floor so you can make it a little bigger, if you want. Stereo may sometimes have a little buzz if you set the bass all the way up to max. My pet peeve with the CX3 is that the outside back of the car gets FILTHY with road stuff and spray. I suppose a set of mudflaps would fix that. If you're driving on wet and salted roads, the back of the car is coming home covered in a filthy grime of road salt. Not nearly as bad in summer when roads are cleaner. Even a good car wash has trouble eliminating all that filthy grime off the back so there's the Achilles's heel of the CX3. - update - at 40,000 miles needed new tires and new brakes. Mazda just rolled out Android auto and upgraded USB ports for this car at a cost- will update that too. I added Michelin Defender tires to the car and that cut down significant road noise. Car itself is on the noisy side. If you're in the car during a rainstorm, it sounds like you're in a tin can. The handling and performance of the car remains excellent. With top of the line tires on the car, it excels in bad weather handling and is superior on dry roads. Interior holding up well. Stereo buzz was a faulty speaker that Mazda fixed for free so, no more buzz. Update at 65,000mi - cars back brakes will wear out before front brakes, which seemed unusual but that's what happens. Car is on 2nd set of tires - michelin defenders -which are excellent. First set wore out around 35k, Mechanically, the car has been very sound and the handling, traction in snow with AWD and overall engine performance are still top notch. All regular maintenance has been done at correct intervals. Added the carplay/android auto update when it was available about 2 years ago which brought the car up to a modern convenience. Fuel efficiency is excellent. Overall. still solid tank of a car and has been a fun to drive reliable workhorse for our family that we have no plans to change out.
5 out of 5 stars
Great fun for the $$. 2018 Mazda CX-3 Grand Tourin
2018 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
Traded a 2005 Mazda 6 with 110k and was looking at the New 3's with the 2.5l engine but this one caught my eye. Never liked the Crossovers much but this was different. The style is great and the features are what I expected for much more $$ in other brands. For a great run around car this is nirvana. 35+mpg so far, Bose sterio, safety features +++, phone, tablet friendly. Cruising around … Vegas in traffic or 70+mph this car is awesome and a lot of Fun. Extremly responsive in city, and quiet on highway which I did not expect. Back seat and cargo are a bit small, but 99% of my driving is alone so no biggie for me. The lack of middle armrest is a bit weird but the center controller is awesome. If you are in the market for a Crossover, Do yourself a treat and give this car a test drive. For 26k you just cant beat it. Zoom Zoom
5 out of 5 stars
CX 3 Ideal For Me
Dave S., 02/22/2018
2018 Mazda CX-3 Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
It has a smooth, firm ride, and the steering is responsive. The CX 3 handles curves, corners, and turns extremely well. Cannot wait to take it on winding country roads and scenic drives when I travel far enough away from Chicago and suburbs. The compact SUV size makes this the perfect urban ride that can handle starts and stops. Very good burst when light goes green. This is a useful … vehicle that can also be fun to drive for distances. Interior and dash design are awesome, IMO. Everything is within reach, and the center strip knobs below the gear shift make it easy to operate the stereo, the sound, the station, the XM channels, or any of the modes this 7-inch tablet style screen offers. Screen visibility is very good. Back up camera imaging is crystal clear. Blind spot and lane warning signals provided on side mirrors, with accompanying beep sound when other vehicles are getting close in other lanes. Stereo system is excellent, with 7-speaker Bose sound system. I purchased the AWD due to winter conditions that come and go here. But the CX 3 does not seem confined by this, as it drives and handles like a FWD in stable weather, while AWD kicks in when snow and ice are present. I am enjoying the CX 3 very much, and look forward to several more years owning this. BTW, the CX 3 boasts a sporty appearance, with smooth flowing sides, an elegant front, and well designed rear with easy hatch and dual exhausts.
5 out of 5 stars
AWD GT with i-active sense package
2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
I live in Minneapolis and wanted a small vehicle with AWD. Choices were between this CX-3 and Subaru Impreza. Bought this car five days ago. I'm writing about initial impressions, will update (if I can) later with more extensive use. Absolutely love this car! Great acceleration, great handling, great mpg. Looks and feels just right. Interior space is an issue though, obviously not the … most important factor as I would not have bought the car if it was. With the car seat in the back, there is space for one other person comfortably. Trunk space is the least I've seen in almost any car I can recall. But this is meant to be my commuter car, primarily to be driven around the city. Entertainment screen and control is mostly intuitive, though I had to fiddle around a bit to learn all the aspects that you can control. Interior is snazzy with two-tone stitched leather. Got the remote starter and all weather floor mats from the dealership as well. The price I have mentioned is the walk-out price, including TTL. Update 2017-06-29: It's been now over 6 months and I love this car even more. Getting around 30 mpg, combined. On certain trips I've averaged 40 mpg!! The iActiveSense features are really useful: The adaptive cruise control is something that I don't think I'll drive without in any car. Auto brakes are cool. Lane departure warning is a pain and I've turned that feature off. Update 2018-01-11: After over a year of ownership, I still can't help but smile every time I get behind the wheels of my CX-3, especially after a vacation where I've not driven my car for a few days. Still averaging 30.4 mpg today. Update 2019-07-12: Still loving this after 2 and half years of ownership.
We have a limited number of reviews for the 2018 Mazda CX-3, so we've included reviews for other years of the CX-3 since its last redesign.
2018 CX-3 Highlights
|Combined MPG||31 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$125/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
Our experts like the CX-3 models:
- Smart City Brake Support System
- Stops the car automatically if an impending collision is detected at speeds below 19 mph.
- Blind-Spot Monitoring
- Monitors traffic in the adjoining lanes and alerts the driver to vehicles in blind spots.
- Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
- Alerts the driver to oncoming cars that may not be visible when backing out of a driveway or parking space.
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover13.8%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood