2020 Mazda CX-30: What's It Like to Live With?

At 1,000 miles, our journey with Mazda's upscale subcompact is just beginning

Mazda CX-30 2020
Miles DrivenAverage MPG

Latest Highlights (updated 10/21/20)

  • The CX-30 has just joined our long-term fleet
  • Our tester is a fully loaded Premium with AWD
  • Cost? More than $30K all told
  • Definitely the looker of the subcompact class

What do you want to know about?

What We Bought and Why

by Will Kaufman, Content Strategist

Our test vehicle: 2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium Package AWD
Base MSRP: $23,000 (with $1,100 destination fee)
MSRP as tested: $32,020

The Mazda CX-30 is the new standard bearer for extra-small SUVs. In a class mostly focused on the lowest possible price of entry, the CX-30 delivers an upscale interior, an extensive roster of tech features and a more engaging driving experience than rivals. Practicality is only average and optioned-up the CX-30 is pricey, but the CX-30's mix of style and substance makes it a unique proposition among subcompact crossovers.

What Did We Get?
We opted for a 2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium Package AWD, which starts with an MSRP of $29,600. Front-wheel drive is standard across the range, and all-wheel drive costs an additional $1,400. From there we added Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint for $595 because it looks good in pictures and it's one of the best shades of red you can get outside of the luxury market. We also got navigation for $450 and a rear bumper guard and cargo cover, which together added $275.

With the $1,100 destination charge, our total MSRP came to $32,020. That's enough to get you a pretty nice compact SUV, so the Mazda CX-30 is going to have to prove its smaller package is worth the money.

But holy cow, does this little Mazda have features! An 8.8-inch infotainment screen with smartphone integration, 12-speaker Bose stereo, head-up display, leather upholstery, power liftgate, dual-zone climate control, moonroof … And i-Activsense, Mazda's name for its suite of safety aids, is standard across the range, with forward collision alert, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and even adaptive cruise equipped on all trim levels. Only blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert require upgrading, and even then just to the second-tier Select Package.

Some features, such as all-wheel drive and adaptive cruise with stop-and-go, have become common in other segments but still aren't universally available among subcompacts, adding to the Mazda's value proposition. And even though a turbo version is coming soon, the standard 186-horsepower four-cylinder engine is more powerful than any affordably priced competitor short of the Mini Countryman S, which isn't really all that affordable.

The CX-30's price point also makes sense in terms of Mazda's own lineup. The CX-3 is more affordable but offers fewer features and less performance. The bigger CX-5 offers more space, more available features and more refinement overall, but for a bit more money.

Why Did We Get It?
Everybody knows SUVs are the future! At least, until they're not and everyone starts buying something else. But for now, they're the future! Mazda already occupied both the compact and subcompact classes with the very good CX-5 and not-so-great CX-3, respectively. But the automaker clearly saw room for a new product to slot in between the two.

Its solution was to turn its perennially popular 3 sedan-slash-hatchback into a subcompact SUV, and we knew we had to try it out.

For most of the nameplate's life, the Mazda 3 was the "zoom zoom" option in the compact car class: Better to drive than rivals, if only average otherwise. In the last generation, the interior materials and design moved more upscale, making the car feel more like an entry-level luxury offering. For 2019, the redesigned 3 doubled down on the upscale interior and made a few small compromises on the whole "zoom zoom" thing, trading some driving character for plush materials and tech while preserving the car's price point.

The CX-30, then, is a logical progression. It carries over the near-luxury interior into a body that's taller and heavier without gaining any more power. Of course, it's also competing against vehicles including the Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR, where acceleration and handling are usually treated as afterthoughts to price and practicality. That gives the CX-30 more of a performance edge against other subcompact SUVs than the Mazda 3 has against other small sedans.

But performance isn't the story here. What's important about the CX-30 is that it's bringing that luxe-lite comfort and refinement to the subcompact SUV class, which is usually more associated with a plasticky, pragmatic cheapness. In doing so, the Mazda CX-30 became our top-rated extra-small SUV.

Storming right to the top of our rankings right out of the gate is no mean feat, but now that it's at the top of the heap, the CX-30 can expect more significant scrutiny. We've acquired one for our long-term fleet so that we can both get to know it better than a normal testing period allows, and so we always have one on hand to test back to back with any new challengers to the crown. SUVs are the future, and the subcompact segment has grown quickly and ferociously in the last few years. Will the CX-30 finish out its year with us still in the lead, or is the new king right around the corner?

The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.

2020 Mazda CX-30: Real-World Fuel Economy

Let's see how our everyday fuel economy compares to the EPA's estimates.

Average lifetime mpg: 28.6
EPA mpg rating: 27 combined ( 25 city / 32 highway )
Best fill mpg: 30.6
Best range (miles): 336.3
Current odometer: 1,608

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