- Steering feel and driving engagement for days
- Upscale interior
- Plenty of standard tech features
- Not as spacious as some rivals
- Can be noisy at times
- Turbo engine requires premium fuel to make maximum power
Vehicle Type: The Mazda CX-30 is a subcompact crossover SUV with seating for up to five people.
Price Range: From $23,225 to $35,225, including destination charge, across eight trim levels.
Powertrain: A 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, with standard front-wheel-drive or optional all-wheel-drive (AWD).
A turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque (on 93 octane fuel), and all-wheel-drive.
Crossovers have long been at the top of the automotive world, as buyers seek a taller ride and more space than a sedan, coupe, or hatchback could offer. Mazda, like many automakers, knows this well and has expanded its catalog to include more family-friendly vehicles. The CX-30 is one of its latest additions and comes to the table with a sporty, engaging ride, plenty of standard technology, and a premium interior that shames many in its class.
The 2022 CX-30 competes with subcompact SUVs Buick Encore GX, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Fiat 500X, Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, Kia Seltos, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Kicks, Nissan Rogue Sport, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota C-HR, and Volkswagen Taos. In addition, compact hatchbacks like the Mazda3, Subaru Impreza, and Honda Civic can also be considered rivals.
As with many Mazda vehicles, the CX-30 offers a sporty driving experience and an upscale interior at a reasonable price. Its driving dynamics are much closer to that of a hatchback than they are to an SUV and the turbocharged models are quick when pushed. However, that performance does come at the tradeoff of interior space, however, as the CX-30 is short on cargo space compared to some of its rivals.
Overall Score: 7.7/10
Safety Features: 9/10
The Mazda CX-30 earned a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The rating includes Good scores in all crashworthiness categories, Good or Poor scores for headlights (varies by trim), and Superior scores in vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention with the standard tech on board. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the CX-30 an overall five-star rating, its highest score.
Every 2022 CX-30 comes with an array of driver assistance features. These include a smart brake support system, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, a driver attention alert system, and automatic high beam control. In addition, higher trim levels get blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The CX-30 wins on value, even among less expensive rivals. There's enough advanced safety tech and upscale interior finishes to keep most buyers happy, and the crossover's lively powertrains don't hurt its cause.
A large infotainment screen, plush front seats, turbocharged engine, and tech gadgets like Apple CarPlay are features that are expected for luxury brands like Audi. But they are welcome surprises at the CX-30's price point.
Mazda could do a better job of organizing the CX-30 hierarchy, though. There are too many trim levels to sift through, making things confusing for consumers. Turbo models are also differently equipped than the standard models, making it harder to compare trim levels.
At less than $30,000, the Preferred trim level represents the best value, with a generous list of standard features and enough of a savings over a larger SUV like the Mazda CX-5.
Tech Features: 8/10
On the tech front, the CX-30 gets standard features such as Bluetooth, two USB inputs, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an eight-speaker audio system, an 8.8-inch infotainment display, voice commands, Pandora radio integration, SMS texting capabilities, and HD Radio.
Optional features include navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio with traffic jam and weather information, a 12-speaker Bose premium sound system, a head-up display, a power moonroof, and traffic sign recognition.
Mazda's infotainment system needs work. It is not slow, laggy, or visually unappealing. But not being a touchscreen makes using apps like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto more difficult. The layout of menus also requires scrolling through long lists to perform typical audio functions and can be distracting. At least the climate control functions are performed through separate, physical buttons and knobs.
The Mazda CX-30's interior is surprisingly spacious for its overall dimensions. The front seats offer decent head and legroom, and the back seats are roomy enough for kids to ride in large car seats. Entering and exiting the vehicle is made easier with large door openings and a low ride height.
The tradeoff with compact SUVs comes in cargo space, which for the CX-30 is smaller than some of its rivals and not shaped in a way that is as conducive to hauling things. The vehicle's sloping roof cuts into the space's height, and the CX-30's relatively short wheelbase means the cargo area is short as well. Space measures just 20.2 cubic feet.
The CX-30's interior offers several small-item storage spaces and spacious storage areas in the center console and glove box. Storage is less generous for back-seat passengers.
Styling & Design: 8/10
The Mazda CX-30's exterior is sleek and sharp. Designers gave the small SUV long lines and a high beltline that make it look longer and larger than it is, even though there's no denying that the CX-30 is a small vehicle.
On the inside, the CX-30's interior is beautifully designed and features upscale materials, even in lower trim levels. Higher trims get rich leathers and visually interesting color combinations that could easily fit into a premium automaker's lineup. Many color combinations end up giving the vehicle a cave-like feel, however, as dark materials on top of dark materials seem to swallow up the light.
Though small, the CX-30's cargo space is easily accessible through the rear hatch. In addition, the vehicle's lower ride height helps with loading and unloading gear and makes getting kids in and out of the back seat much more accessible.
The CX-30's dash design is clean and elegant, but the positioning of the infotainment screen means that some of the display is obscured by the dash surrounding it at times. That isn't a big deal for taller drivers, but shorter adults may find it difficult to see all of the information from certain angles, especially from the driver's seat.
Driving Experience: 8/10
Stepping out of a similar vehicle and into the CX-30 is like a breath of fresh air. The Mazda's steering system is communicative and direct. It makes driving the vehicle enthusiastically much easier because there is little doubt about what is going on with the front wheels when moving the steering wheel.
The CX-30 feels a bit light on power with the standard four-cylinder engine, but the situation improves rapidly with the turbocharged engine. The throttle response is impressive for this level of car, too, with traction helped by the standard AWD system. Moving through traffic is a breeze, and reaching highway speeds feels effortless with the turbo. It's not that the non-turbo engine is underpowered, but it doesn't take much advantage of the Mazda's agility.
The CX-30's sporty driving experience comes at the expense of ride quality and noise control. The vehicle is comfortable and smooth in most situations, but broken pavement, potholes, and uneven pavement on the highway give it trouble. Additionally, there is a significant level of wind and road noise at almost any speed, which is a big downside for an otherwise premium vehicle experience. On the other hand, vehicles like the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA achieve both a sporty and comfortable ride.
Fuel Efficiency: 6/10
The Mazda CX-30 equipped with the base engine has Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-estimated fuel economy figures of 25 mpg city, 33 highway, and 28 mpg combined. These numbers shift to 24/31/26 mpg, respectively, with the optional all-wheel-drive.
When equipped with the upgraded turbocharged engine, the CX-30's EPA-estimated fuel economy drops to 22/30/25 mpg. Those numbers are more in line with upscale small SUVs like the similarly powerful Volvo XC40 T5.
Even in its most fuel-efficient configuration, the CX-30's numbers fall closer to those of larger vehicles than they do the small models it competes with. Further, the lack of any hybrid or electric version is a downside.
What’s it Going to Cost Me?
The base Mazda CX-30 starts at $23,225 MSRP. It comes with a 186-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel-drive. Standard equipment includes an eight-speaker stereo, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic emergency braking, sport seats, 16-inch wheels, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry with push-button start, an 8.8-inch display, HD radio, a driver attention alert system, automatic high beam control, lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure alert.
The CX-30 Select starts at $25,225. It comes with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate controls, rear air conditioning vents, a rear-seat armrest with cupholders, and leatherette upholstery.
The CX-30 Preferred starts at $27,625 and adds heated front seats and folding side mirrors.
Stepping up to the $29,875 CX-30 Premium trim adds a Bose 12-speaker stereo, a power liftgate with programmable height adjustment, paddle shifters, leather upholstery, and satellite radio.
The $31,225 Mazda CX-30 Turbo model adds a 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and all-wheel-drive with off-road traction assist. Features for the remaining trims align with the non-turbocharged trim levels. Pricing for the Turbo Premium model starts at $33,625 and $35,225 for the Turbo Premium Plus.