It might seem small even for subcompact standards but Mazda CX-3 enters this year with a bang. Its nimble handling is what'll steal customers form other brands and the Miata like designing makes it a Samurai amongst regular soldiers. However, it's not immune to everything, low cargo space and miniature standard trunk feels like a dent in a showroom fresh car.
With the sticker price of $20,390, the Mazda CX-3 competes in the subcompact SUV segment. The long hood hides a 2.0L Inline 4 engine paired to an 6-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain pumps out 148 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. There are three trims on the offer with an option for RWD and AWD.
You might have low hopes for the segment but it's the new fashion in the automotive bazar. The number of cars competing in the segment is mental, brands all over the world are offering their take on the segment. The CX-3 has to counter the likes of Honda-HRV, Toyota C-HR, Subaru Crosstrek, Hyundai Kona, Buick Encore and more. There is not a lot of changes for this years CX-3.
8.8/10 Engine and Performance
2020 Mazda CX-3 Features
This 5 seater baby SUV is offered in 3 trims, Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. With the starting price of $20,390 the CX-3 is offered in both Rear-wheel-drive and All-wheel-Drive and is priced accordingly for all three trims. Being a rather new concept compact SUVs are still evolving. Bold styling, rich feature list, and miniature rear seats is currently the class defining norms for a compact SUV and the Mazda is no different. All three trims share the same 2.0L Inline-4 power train so, the difference lies in the standard feature list.
16-inch aluminium alloy wheels with 215/60 R16 all-season tires
Body-colored power side mirrors with integrated turn signals
LED exterior lighting
Dual exhaust outlets with bright finish
Chrome exterior trim
Rear roofline spoiler
Variable-intermittent windshield wipers
Piano black exterior trim
Rear intermittent windshield wiper
Keyless entry and ignition
Full leather upholstery
Roof-mounted "shark fin" antenna
Automatic climate control
Seven-speaker Bose premium audio system with satellite and HD radio
Air conditioning with pollen filter
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and an overhead console with sunglasses holder
Advanced safety features include adaptive cruise control with full-speed range
60/40 split fold-down rear seatback
Simulated leather and cloth upholstery
Forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection
MAZDA CONNECT™ Infotainment System5
Heated front seats
Lane departure warning and automatic high beams
7" full-color touch screen display
Advanced front air bags, front side-impact air bags and side-impact air curtains
Hill Launch Assist
Smart City Brake Support
Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
We would recommend you to buy the base sport trim as it has the same engine as the upper trim levels. Just make sure you compliment your CX-3 with the Sport I-Activsense Package. This package adds Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Smart Brake support, Lane Departure warning, High beam control and more.
2020 Mazda CX-3 Engine and Performance
“Engine improvements include a couple of extra horses in output. It doesn’t turn the 2020 CX-3 into a rocket sled, but the relatively modest 148 horsepower is only part of a larger equation that includes well-calibrated suspension and steering systems”- KBB
Engine and Transmission
Sufficient for a compact SUV, Mazda’s choice of the engine remains modest for 2020 CX-3. The 2.0L Inline-4 engine was tuned to muster more horses and make the throttle sharper than the yesteryear’s variant. Mazda backs the engine with a supple 6-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain works beautifully on the highway and maintains a low gear on climbs, to further complete the magic a torque controlling system modulates the power delivers on the front wheels for better cornering.
As for the throttle response, there is a lot of humming from the exhaust. The power delivery feels delays for initial gears, also the engine feels jolly only in this denial state. When you press out more power it screams-out to loosen the grip.
2.0 Liter Inline-4
1.8 Liter Inline-4
2.0 Liter Inline-4
2.0 Liter Inline-4
1.4 Turbocharged Inline-4
2.0 Liter Boxer-4
6-Speed Automatic w/SelectShift
148 @ 6000 rpm
141 hp@6500 rpm
144 @ 6100 rpm
147 @ 6200 rpm
138 @ 4900 rpm
152 @ 6000 rpm
138 hp @ 4900 rpm
123 @ 6000 rpm
146 @ 2800 rpm
127 lb. ft. @ 4300 rpm
139 @ 3900 rpm
132 @ 4500 rpm
148 @ 1850 rpm
145 @ 4000 rpm
148 lb-ft @1850 rpm
125 @ 3500 rpm
The competition is mad for these mini-SUVs, every brand packs up a lucrative deal with resembling power and practicality for the majority of things. Mazda established its territory with its tad more horsepower than the usual, though Subaru Crosstrek further turns up the heat with its 152 horsepower. The CZX-3 features a 6 speed automatic over its arch rivals like Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR who settled for a CVT transmission.
Shoppers in the small SUV segment won’t buy the CX-3 as a sprinting animal, it’s more of a tamed cruiser for the majority of the time. The pickup isn’t that lively but its gains momentum as you are deep into the throttle. Mazda makes the 60 mph test in 8.5 seconds, similar to its last year’s performance. Press even further and the SUV hits the chequered flag for the quarter-mile in 16.3 seconds.
0-60 MPH (sec)
Quarter mile (sec)
(Tons/yr. of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
Even with similar engines and power, Mazda’s sorcery keeps the CX-3’s acceleration under 9 seconds while the latter were mostly over this bar. Even the powerful Subaru managed a 9.3-second performance, well size does hinder performance. For the quarter-mile distance HR-V catches up to the CX-3 with its 16-second performance but the Toyota was nowhere to be found.
Ride and Handling
The CX-3’s handing is sharp and reminds of Miata performance cars. The power might feel undermining but its actually satisfying for a car of this statures. Steering is nicely weighted and has a good balance delivering a zippy ride. You get a lot of road communication as the driver has control over everything. Highway cruising comes easy to the CX-3 however, the cornering will not have the slingshot effect, but the Skyactiv-Vehicle Dynamics and the G-vectoring control make corners entertaining. A newly tuned suspension with control arms, bushing, and shocks makes the ride more refined.
Compared to last year, this year’s CX-3 is better in every but is prone to few jiggles on the rear side. You won’t even feel the need to switch the Sport mode, the ride is too sporty in the comfort mode as well. Being a baby SUV the body is compact which makes it easy to cut the city’s traffic.
The 2020 Mazda CX-3 has everything to become a great daily driver including good brakes. Front brakes are rated at 11 inches and the rear set is followed by 11.1 inches of brake rotors. The pedal feels firm and composed for the majority of the time though it still suffers from fade. It’s light compared to its adversaries like Toyota C-HR, Subaru Crosstrek, and Buick Encore.
Brake Front (in.)
Brake Rear (in.)
Curb Weight (lbs.)
60-0 MPH (ft.)
The braking figures were unavailable for the CX-3 as for any other SUV in the comparison. However, every car is backed with equally competitive brakes which leave us on weight. The CX-3 is a shredded SUV with its 2800 pound weight though keeping its build quality rock-hard. The HR-V follows the drill but other boxy SUVs like Toyota C-HR, Subaru Crosstrek, and Buick Encore are over 3000 pounds which any impact their braking performance.
2020 Mazda CX-3 Fuel Economy
Fuel economy is the winning point for this baby SUV segment. Every SUV boast a decent mileage figures encouraging the buyer to invest in this budding segment. Mazda delivers a well rounded package with its 29 mpg of city and 34 mpg of highway mileage. Together you will have a 31 mpg of combined mileage. The All-Wheel-Drive system adds 150 pounds of weight dropping this figure to 29 mpg.
Clean and efficient, most of these baby SUVs are efficient and save you the frequent trips to the gas station. The 2020 Mazda CX-3 is the most fuel efficient SUV in the segment, its combined 31 mpg mileage is the best in the class. Honda is breathing down Mazda’s neck with its 30 mpg mileage.
2020 Mazda CX-3 Interior
“The CX-3 gets high marks for its attractive interior that makes use of high-quality materials. But points were deducted for the cramped rear-seat space, and outward visibility is merely average”- Edmunds
Seating and Comfort
It’s totally clear that the CX-3 was built for 2 passengers. Its seems like the ideal of 4 was a post built decision. The front cabin and seats are present with a lot of headroom and legroom. The doors are wide which makes entry and exit natural. There is nothing cheap on this Mazda, hard plastic were absent throughout the cabin. The leather/suede seats are comfortable and have a high beltline, the front seats are 6-way manually adjusted but requires a rough hand.
Now the rear seat is what’s wrong about this great SUV. Entering through the rear doors is like entering a tunnel and the seats are too cramped for comfort. The coupe-like roofline hinders the headroom, but it’s the tiny grey space between the seats which Mazda calls legroom that’s the real problem. You have decent 40-inch legroom in the front but it's reduced to just 35 for the rear cabin. You get an update of heated steering and leather-trimmed seats on the higher trims.
Front (cu. ft)
Rear (cu. ft)
Other SUV’s like the Toyota and Hyundai Kona get the befit of their boxy body style. There is no problem with the rear headroom and legroom is better than the Mazda, which possibility is the worst in the class.
Audio And Cruise Controls On Steering Wheel
Overhead Console With Storage
Front Seatback Storage
Leather Steering Wheel
Turn Signal In Mirrors
Front And Rear Cupholders
Front And Rear Door Pockets
Electric Power Steering
Rear View Camera
Tilt And Telescopic Steering Wheel
Dual Vanity Mirrors
Interior Air Filtration
The Mazda’s i-pad styled infotainment screen earns extra points for the interior. A mono-spec 7-inch infotainment screen comes installed with the Mazda’s CONNECT infotainment system with voice commands, multifunction commander control, Aha internet radio and more. The system is easy to use and have a one-touch response without any delay. Menus are clear and obvious but some features take too long to access. A rotary dial on the console is another way to go about the features on the screen. The absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is still absent from 2020 CX-3.
Some other infotainment features include:
SiriusXM Satellite Radio
8-speaker full-range door-mounted type sound system
Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio
2 USB ports
MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system inc. voice command
Cargo volume is not the most bright thing on the CX-3’s brochure. The 12.4 cubic feet cargo volume is worst in the lot. Furthermore, the rear seats are foldable to unlock the SUV’s 44.5 cubic feet of the cargo bay, which is competitive with other boxy competitors.
Ford Eco sport
Trunk Volume (ft.3)
Cargo Volume with Rear seats folded (ft.3)
2020 Mazda CX-3 Exterior
“The 2020 Mazda CX-3 channels hatchback style for its clean good looks. It avoids that cliched territory altogether with the 2020 CX-3. A sleek hatchback in all ways save for ride height, the CX-3 offers a fresh look and a well-composed if bland cockpit for the driving”- The Car Connection
Design and Styling
Mazda has always been a strong opposer of rudimentary designs and styling. Where other SUVs play on similar style the designers at Mazda get to work and deliver something exotic, you won’t find a crossover close to this one. Rather than having straight lines and muscles Mazda opted for a curvaceous body design. The long nose hood adds the Miata mystic to this small SUV. For 2020 the design received some tweaks with more chrome touches, and minor improvements in the front and the rear grills.
Subtle design upgrades spices up the exterior, that’s for sure but the curvaceous body might create a problem of cabin space. It’s not the biggest small SUV in the lot like the Subaru Crosstrek. Right from its long nose hood the CX-3 measures 168.3 inches. The total ear to ear width and height are rated at 69.6 and 60.7 inches respectively. As per the evolving compact SUV norms Mazda feature a respectable 101 inches o wheelbase and 6.1 inches of ground clearance.
Ford Eco Sport
Curb weight (lbs.)
Ground clearance (in)
Track width (in) F/R
As aforementioned, Subaru Crosstrek is the biggest small SUV in the lot. It does not carry a lot of weight given it has a big body. Rest of the class feature similar dimensions without alienating things. However, you can all the CX-3 the smallest SUV in the lot.
Rear Bumper Guard
Machine Gray Metallic Paint Charge
Roof Rack Side Rails
Front And Rear Bumper Trim Package
Soul Red Crystal Metallic Paint Charge
Snowflake White Pearl Mica Paint Charge
2020 Mazda CX-3 Safety
The advanced suite of safety tech that inhabits the CX-3 sedan can help the driver avoid most of the hazardous scenarios. Tests from the IIHS proved that the CX-3 is capable of avoiding a head-on collision at speeds up to 25 mph. An array of blind spot sensors can alert the driver of any potential obstacles out of the line of sight. A Driver Attention Alert System is standard for the Select trim and above. This system monitors 70 different parameters to determine the signs of fatigue or if enough attention is paid on the road ahead. Some of the prominent safety features include :
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
ABS And Driveline Traction Control
Side Impact Beams
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
Tire Specific Low Tire Pressure Warning
MazdaConnect Emergency SOS
Driver Attention Alert
Lane Departure Warning And Lane Keep Assist
Forward Collision Warning with Advanced Emergency Braking
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
Blind Spot Monitoring System
Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
2020 Mazda CX-3 Competition
Honda HR-V vs Mazda CX-3
Honda markets the HR-v on its practicality and comfortable seating, while Mazda delivers the sheer pleasure of driving. Both cars are backed with similar engines and share a competitive price tag which makes the choice even more puzzling. Honda’s cargo bay is impressive and complements you travel plans plus its smart placement of the rear seats earns it more points. However, Mazda’s driving dynamics are zippy which the HR-V couldn’t match.Both SUVs might compete in similar segments but their powers are polar opposites to each other. So, if you are looking for practicality and a feasible daily driver then Honda might be the right choice.
Toyota C-HR vs Mazda CX-3
The crossover segment has created a lot of buzzes these days and Toyota cannot abandon such area. The Toyota C-HR is a solid offering with sufficient power and entertaining ride quality but that’s something Mazda offers as well. It suffers from the same germ of low cargo volume but manages to deliver habitable rear legroom. However, Mazda would win buyers with its great handling, acceleration, and better fuel economy numbers. Also, the C-HR doesn’t have an AWD option.The C-HR sure is nice but people a buyer of Crossover SUVs sure will find Mazda more desirable.
Subaru Crosstrek vs Mazda CX-3
In the segment of efficient small SUVs, Subaru delivers something more. It's comical how an SUV like Crosstrek competes with these baby SUVs, its bigger, more powerful, and offers a lot of space for a crossover hatch. Also, it’s a crossover mud cake as it comes with off-road capabilities. Clearly Subaru had differing ideology for Crosstrek. However, its handling is not over the top and fuel economy is subpar compared to other baby SUVs. Mazda, on the other hand, is an entertaining ride with class defining fuel economy numbers.We would only suggest the Subaru Crosstrek only if you are looking for a baby off-roader otherwise you are fine with the Mazda CX-3.
2020 Mazda CX-3 Final Verdict
Right from its inception in 2015, Mazda CX-3 was known for their superior handling prowess and good road manners. These traits were inherited as the SUV aged and has become a relevant point of value. Now there is nothing new for this year’s CX-3 just little tuning to chassis, more safety features, few tweaks on the exterior, and more cubby holes and an armrest , rest remains the same.
The engine is powerful for a subcompact in a way that you wont feel the need for more horses. The economy is top of the line but practically is where things go downhill. Overall, it’s a strong offering from Mazda and you won’t be disappointed with your choice.