2021 Mazda CX-30 Review

2021 Mazda CX-30 - The 2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo AWD is sporty and practical


Price: $33,900

Pros—Racy look. Roomy. Fast. Deft handling. Upscale interior. AWD. Safety features.

Cons—Bumpy ride on bumpy roads. Low seating. Fussy infotainment system.  

Bottom Line—The CX-30 2.5 Turbo AWD is fun to drive and practical.

The 2021 subcompact Mazda CX-30 SUV is based on the sporty Mazda 3 auto and fits between the smaller Mazda CX-3 and larger Mazda CX-5.

There are various CX-3 trim levels with front- or all-wheel drive (AWD). They start at approximately $22,000. I tested the top-line $33,900 CX-30 Turbo AWD with the Premium Plus package. With options, the bottom line price was $35,595, including a $1,100 delivery charge.

If that seems like a lot for a subcompact SUV, consider that the CX-30 2.5 Turbo AWD is fast, fun to drive, roomy for four or five adults, has an upscale interior and is nicely built. It’s only 173 inches long and thus is handy to maneuver in congested urban areas. New for 2021 is the addition of standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.  

However, the  entertainment system, controlled by a rotary console dial, is fussy. Moreover, shorter rear occupants may feel the seating is too low.  

The styling is definitely racy, and my test vehicle’s optional Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint really made it stand out. Over-the-shoulder rear visibility is average, so a driver should make best use of the outside rearview mirrors.

The CX-30 comes with a 2.5-liter, 186-horsepower four-cylinder engine or a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder. The turbo engine generates 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque on regular-grade fuel or, as Mazda says, 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque if 93-octane fuel is used.

I assumed my test CX-30 had 93-octane in its 12.7-gallon tank, as it weighed approximately 3,400 pounds and was swift in the city and on highways. The 0-60 mph time is an estimated brisk 5.8 seconds.

The engine works with a slick 6-speed manual transmission and could be quickly manually shifted via steering wheel paddles or the shift lever.

The quiet near-premium cabin has items including power driver’s seat with lumbar support, heated leather seats, push-button start, Bose 12-speaker sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, power moonroof, rear privacy glass, heated leather-covered steering wheel, k navigation system and a rearview camera.

Gauges can be quickly read, and the row of neatly marked dashboard buttons for such things as climate control, heated seats and heated steering wheel will be appreciated by drivers who don’t want to fool with a dashboard screen. All side windows are powered, a large fold-down rear center armrest has twin cupholders and there are decent number of cabin storage areas.

The power hatch opens and closely easily, and the cargo area is decent. Heavy, thick fold-down rear seat backs sit flat when folded forward for additional cargo room.  

The electric power-assist steering quick and precise, but a little too light, with only a fair amount of road feel. Adroit handling is one of the things that makes the CX-30 2.5 Turbo fun to drive, which is a characteristic of all Mazdas. Dynamic stability and traction control systems help here, as does the nicely developed AWD system. A driver can manually switch to a “sport” driving mode, but it’s not really for routine driving.

The firm ride is comfortable on smooth roads, but bumpy ones cause a bumpy ride. The brake pedal has a linear action to help the four-wheel disc brakes with Smart Brake Support provide smooth, quick stops.

Safety features include front/rear side air curtains, front side-impact and knee air bags, radar cruise control with stop-and-go, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, heated power mirrors with turn signals, rearview camera, air bags, blind spot monitoring system and daytime running lights.

Safety options include front/rear parking sensors, 360-degree view monitor, traffic jam assist and rear cross-traffic braking.

Many who regard vehicles just as transportation devices generally only think of Mazda as a producer of the long-popular MX-5 Miata sports car. _Too bad, as they’re missing out of practical driving fun with models such as the CX-30.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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