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.
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 this year.
trim levels & features
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.
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.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.