Frustrating Mazda MX-30 Can't Match Other Modern EVs

A short range, odd controls, and an uninspiring driving experience mean it’s hard to make a case for Mazda’s first electric car

2023 Mazda MX-30 front driving Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports

The 2022 Mazda MX-30 is the automaker’s first attempt at an electric vehicle. It takes the form of a small SUV, and is about the same size as the gas-powered CX-30. We rented one from Mazda to give it a try.

Perhaps the most important thing you need to know about the Mazda MX-30 is that I couldn’t drive it on Mother’s Day. See, the MX-30 has a range of only about 100 miles. Even though my mother doesn’t live very far away, the little Mazda couldn’t make the round trip on a single charge.

There’s definitely a place for EVs with short ranges. For example, the Mini Cooper SE is a fun-to-drive runabout that’s a perfect second car for someone with a short commute, and a cheap, used Nissan Leaf is a fine choice for someone who wants to go electric on a budget.

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But the MX-30 is neither cheap nor satisfying. Starting at about $33,470 (before a $7,500 federal tax rebate), it is among the more affordable EVs on the market, but it will still end up costing only a little less than a more practical, brand new Nissan Leaf (which no longer qualifies for the tax credit).

Aside from its electric powerplant, the most unique thing about the MX-30 is its “clamshell” style rear doors that can be opened only if the front doors are also open. There are rumors that the MX-30 will get a plug-in hybrid version with a gas-powered range extender (possibly thanks to a rotary engine—a technology that has a long history with the Mazda brand), and we hope they’re borne out.

Mazda only has plans to import 560 MX-30s for now, and they’ll be sold only in California, so there’s obviously a limited audience for this review. But we hope our feedback will reach Mazda before it designs any more EVs. After all, the rest of Mazda’s lineup is full of practical, affordable, fun-to-drive vehicles—many of which CR recommends. There’s no reason the company can’t make an EV in the same vein.

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What we rented: 2022 Mazda MX-30 Premium Plus
Powertrain: 143-hp electric motor; 1-speed direct drive; front-wheel drive
MSRP: $33,470-$36,480 (before $7,500 federal tax incentive)

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