Mazda CX-3 brings zoom-zoom fun to small SUVs

New mini-ute combines small proportions with a fuel efficient powertrain

Published: January 20, 2015 04:30 PM

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Photo: David Dewhurst Photography

What is it? Mazda’s entry in the mini-utility segment is based on the new version of its soon-to-be released, tiny Mazda2 subcompact. 

The CX-3 is a about foot shorter, three inches narrower, and rides on five-inch shorter wheelbase than its big brother, the CX-5 SUV. That makes it almost exactly the size of the Buick Encore or the upcoming Chevrolet Trax, and smaller than the Subaru Crosstrek.

The CX-3  only comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which puts out 155 hp in other applications, backed by a six-speed automatic transmission on all trim levels. The CX-3 will be available with a new, lightweight all-wheel-drive system.  

The CX-3 gets the company’s latest infotainment system with a seven-inch center display screen controlled with a rotary knob to operate functions such a Bluetooth phone connection, radio controls, and Aha Internet radio. A palm rest is supposed to make it easier to use the commander control knob.

The rear seats are staggered inboard of the front seats and elevated slightly to give rear passengers a better view out and to ease conversation with front-seat passengers in what is likely to be a fairly noisy car.

What’s new or notable? The CX-3 may be the first non-luxury mini SUV to use radar-based forward-collision warning and potentially active cruise control. (The competing Subaru Crosstrek uses a camera-based system.)

CR's take: The high-mounted rear door handles look like it will be difficult for young kids to use.

When will it be available? Early 2015.

See our complete coverage of the 2015 Detroit auto show.

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