Pros: Sporty look. Driving fun. Fairly roomy. _Upscale interior. Quick. Athletic handling. Decent ride. Available all-wheel drive. Safety equipment.
Cons: Jumpy ride over bumps. Narrow rear door openings. Frustrating infotainment system. Raspy engine sound.
Bottom Line: A nicely equipped compact crossover that's practical and fun. Average fuel economy.
The new, fun-loving 2020 Mazda CX-30 is a compact practical crossover that fits between Mazda's CX-3 and CX-5. It's a perfect fit between between those two for those who want a vehicle that's not too small and not too large for their needs.
Based on the sporty Mazda3 auto, the CX-30 comes in four versions and is offered with front- or all-wheel drive. List prices go from $21,900 for the base model to $29,600 for the top-line Premium with all-wheel drive, which is the model I tested. All versions have the same sophisticated 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. The engine works with a responsive six-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift feature.
The supportive heated power front driver's seat is comfortable, and there's decent room for four tall adults. The firm center of the rear seat is best left for the large pull-down armrest, which has twin cupholders.
The power hatch opens nicely to reveal a decent-size cargo area, Rear seat backs can easily be flipped forward to greatly enlarge the cargo area.
A driver can choose via a console control to put the car in regular or "sport" mode, which stiffens things up a bit for sportier driving but doesn't make the ride uncomfortable. Steering is crisp, and my test cars handling was athletic, helped by a good chassis, dynamic stability and traction controls and all-wheel-drive system. The all-disc brakes are controlled by a firm pedal with a progressive action and "smart" brake support.
The ride was a curious blend of softness and firmness on smooth roads, but got jumpy over bumps.
The engine needs high r.p.m. to really come alive and sounds raspy under hard acceleration, but provides good performance. The 0-60 m.p.h. time is 7.5 seconds.
Mazda says estimated fuel economy goes from 25 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on highways to 24 city and 31 highway. However, my AWD Premium's Monroney economy label readings were 25 city and 32 highway. All readings are just-average for this compact vehicle, which weighs 3,337 to 3,408 pounds and is 173 inches long.
Only regular-grade fuel is needed, and the gas tank holds 13.5 gallons.
My Premium model had alluring $595 "Soul Red Crystal" paint, which really brought out its sporty lines. It took a little effort to get into its upscale interior, and rear door openings were narrow. But occupants sit higher the they would in a car. The rear quarter windows don't help rear vision much, but the large power outside mirrors certainly do.
The upscale interior under my Premium model's power sliding sunroof had leather seats and many soft-such areas, nice stitching, a pushbutton starter, easily read instrumentation, plenty of dashboard buttons and a sliding armrest covering a deep console storage area.
There also were dual zone automatic climate control with rear vents, an 8.8-inch color display, steering wheel controls and a Bose premium audio system with 12 speakers. Cupholders are placed on the console side-by-side to prevent confusion when a driver and front passenger reach for their beverages..
However, the console's rotary knob for the infotainment system made it frustrating to perform simple audio tasks.
Safety features included a blind spot monitoring system, radar cruise control with a stop-and-go feature, rear cross-traffic alert, rearview camera, electronic parking brake, front side-impact air bags, lane-departure warning system and lane-keep assist features.
Drivers who like to check engine oil will find the hood extremely heavy and held open with only a prop rod.
Mazda models are frequently overlooked, but clever CX-30 marketing might alert potential buyers to this solid, cleverly designed crossover.