New 2018 Mazda CX3 SUV New 2018
Mazda CX3 SUV

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KBB Editor's Overview

By Editorial Staff

Mazda’s 2018 CX-3 is by far the most athletic and fun-to-drive entry in the subcompact-SUV field. Sure, you’ll find more interior space in a Honda HR-V, and more features for less money in the Kia Soul, but neither has the CX-3’s impressive handling or upscale interior. The CX-3 also offers the option of all-wheel drive, something you can’t get with the Soul. The sporty Fiat 500X might also seem a good comparison, but the similarities end when it comes to resale and reliability ratings. Interior space aside, the CX-3 triumphs in the areas of styling, handling, price, safety and resale. For those who love everything about the CX-3 but need more room, a step up to the larger CX-5 may prove a satisfactory solution.


You'll Like This SUV If...

If you’re looking for a subcompact with an all-weather drivetrain, racy good looks and exemplary ride and handling characteristics, we think Mazda’s 2018 CX-3 deserves a test drive. While not big on back-seat legroom, with the rear seats folded down, the CX-3 offers a decent amount of cargo space.

You May Not Like This SUV If...

If you need maximum interior room, the Honda HR-V or Kia Soul is a more appealing choice. Tech fans will find the CX-3’s infotainment system isn’t as up-to-date as its rivals, while those planning light off-road adventures will probably be better off in a Jeep Renegade Trailhawk.

What's New for 2018

As part of its standard equipment, the 2018 CX-3 gains Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support. New options this year include a heated steering wheel, full-color Active Driving Display and a power driver’s seat with memory. Revisions to the CX-3’s suspension improve handling and comfort while reducing road noise.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

While no speed demon, the subcompact CX-3 reminds us that adept handling and communicative steering can be just as satisfying as an abundance of horsepower. Although a few competitors are quicker to reach 60 mph, the CX-3 can make the dash in around eight seconds, putting it well ahead of the Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR. Once the road starts to turn and twist, however, Mazda’s CX-3 leaves all comers in the rearview mirror. We wish Mazda offered the slick 6-speed manual from the Mazda3, but the standard multi-gear automatic does a good job getting power to the wheels when needed. Opt for the GT trim and you’ll gain steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The CX-3’s handsome but snug interior outclasses everything in the segment, but the touch-screen setup that locks out touch controls once the car is in motion proved rather annoying.

Favorite Features

Mazda has a knack for making economical cars with upscale interiors, and the 2018 CX-3 subcompact SUV is no exception. Standard features include push-button start, Mazda Connect infotainment and Smart City Brake Support, while the GT trims add Bose audio and adaptive LED headlights.

With the CX-3, you’ll get a modestly priced subcompact SUV with styling that could just as easily be found on a Lexus, Volvo or Infiniti luxury car. Drawing from Mazda’s “Kodo” design language, the CX-3’s long hood, short overhangs, curvaceous body and stunning interior make for one very attractive package.

Vehicle Details


Even in its Sport model, the monotone black-cloth upholstery looks good, and upping the ante to the Touring model's Leatherette and Lux Suede or the Grand Touring model's leather/Lux Suede seats with second-color piping sweetens the deal into luxury territory. With the GT you also get soft-stitched material over the gauge hood. The cockpit is geared toward the driver in what Mazda calls its "Head-up Cockpit" concept. The gauges themselves are housed in a well-defined nacelle, and the iPad-like infotainment system includes text-message audio delivery, voice command, and apps like Aha and Stitcher, with the screen fashionably mounted atop the dash.


Mazda designer Ken Saward says the goal of the CX-3’s exterior is a car that is “genuinely beautiful while practical.” No question that Mazda nailed the "beautiful" part. The coupe-like cabin and long hood evoke classically sporty proportions, and the flowing lines and distinctive grille all look good here. It looks all the world like a slightly raised Mazda3 5-door hatchback. However, with only 168.3 in. of overall length and 60.7 in. of height, the little CX-3 misses the mark when it comes to the "practical" part, as it offers less interior and cargo space than many of its competitors.

Notable Standard Equipment

Every 2018 Mazda CX-3 comes equipped with a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift Sport mode. The Mazda Connect infotainment system is also standard, and includes a dash-mounted 7-inch monitor with a rearview camera, voice command, and multi-function dial control that looks like it's straight out of a European luxury car. Also on the list is Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, push-button start, USB input, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, power windows and door locks and keyless entry. Newly standard is Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support that can automatically apply the brakes at speeds under 19 mph.

Notable Optional Equipment

All-wheel drive is available across the board on the CX-3, but most features are added through trim levels. The mid-level CX-3 Touring adds automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, 18-inch wheels, heated exterior mirrors, moonroof, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert plus Leatherette with Lux-Suede seats. Grand Touring models get leather and Lux Suede seats, a moonroof, LED headlights, fog lights, navigation and Bose audio, plus paddles on the steering wheel to shift the automatic transmission. Grand Touring models offer the GT Premium Package that includes Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Smart Brake Support, a power driver’s seat and heated steering wheel.

Under the Hood

There's only one engine and transmission combination available for the front- or all-wheel-drive (FWD, AWD) 2018 Mazda CX-3: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder putting out 146 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. But there's a lot of technology built into that engine, such as the lofty 13.0:1 compression ratio. Once, numbers like that were for hot rods looking for the most horsepower. But in the CX-3, it's all about fuel economy, and part of the Skyactiv system that has become as indelible a part of Mazda's marketing as red cars. Good news: It works, with the CX-3 returning very good fuel economy. Just note that even when you manually shift the 6-speed automatic, the CX-3 is far from quick, although it makes the most of its power.

2.0-liter inline-4
146 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
146 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/34 mpg (FWD), 27/32 mpg (AWD)


Pricing Notes

Suffice it to say, the $22,050 Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the Mazda CX-3 Sport is very competitive, and lands pretty much right on top of a comparably equipped version of its primary competitor, the Honda HR-V. On the other end of the spectrum, the Grand Touring starts just over $26,000, which is a little more than the top-line HR-V, but the Mazda offers more equipment. All-wheel drive adds about $1,200 to the price of any CX-3. As for resale, the CX-3’s projected 5-year values come in just below the Honda HR-V, but top those of the Nissan Juke, Jeep Renegade, Kia Soul and Chevy Trax. Before purchasing, be sure to check the KBB Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their 2018 Mazda CX-3.

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