2020 Mazda CX-30 front

The new Mazda CX-30 SUV made its North American debut this week at the 2019 LA Auto Show. It’s an interesting model because it fits into a narrow gap in the automaker’s lineup, between the subcompact CX-3 and the compact CX-5. This is similar to Nissan’s strategy of slotting its Rogue Sport SUV in between the very small Kicks and the larger Rogue.

The CX-30 is based on the same platform as the Mazda3 compact car, which did well in our tests. The Mazda3 stands out with a quiet, more upscale interior than its competitors and a comfortable ride, but it doesn’t handle as sharply as past generations.

Logic might suggest that Mazda would call the SUV the CX-4, but that name is already used for another Mazda model sold outside the U.S.

With ample tech and safety offerings, the five-seat crossover takes aim at younger buyers seeking a more premium feel without a premium price. The Consumer Reports Cars team will be seeing the CX-30 and many other models in person at the show to provide insights for notable upcoming models.

What it competes with: Nissan Rogue Sport, Subaru Crosstrek
What it looks like: A slightly slicked-back Mazda CX-5 with dark lower-body panels and a sloping roofline.
Powertrain: 186-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine; six-speed automatic; front- or all-wheel drive
Price: $21,900-$29,600
On-sale date: December 2019

CR’s Take

This is an interesting vehicle. It’s aggressively priced and brings a stylish look and premium feel that isn’t found in similar models from competitors. Even though Mazda offers an all-wheel-drive version of its compact car, the Mazda3, buyers are snapping up more SUVs than sedans and hatchbacks. This Mazda3-based SUV blends the look of a coupe with a hatchback in a package with more ground clearance than the compact car.

Outside

Mazda says the CX-30’s sleek, bold styling is meant to evoke creativity. To us, it’s very clear that the CX-30 looks like a raised version of the Mazda3 hatchback. The SUV has the company’s signature wide, gaping front grille and a long hood. The CX-30’s aerodynamic profile is very coupelike, and it stands out when compared with the more traditionally proportioned Rogue Sport and Crosstrek. The windows up front are large, but the roof quickly drops off at the back of the SUV, which could limit visibility.

Mazda CX-30 interior

Inside

The interior looks as if it was ripped directly from the Mazda3, which isn’t a bad thing. We were impressed with the direction that Mazda took with the 3’s cabin, with rich, generously padded surfaces and high-quality trim, buttons, and knobs throughout. The cabin finish stands out in the compact car class. Mazda says that it worked to minimize road and wind noise on the CX-30. If it’s anywhere near the levels of quietness found in the 3’s cabin, then the company will have succeeded.

Like the system in the Mazda3 sedan, the CX-30’s infotainment system includes a high-mounted 8.8-inch center screen with a rotary controller positioned between the front seats. In our tests of the 3, we found that it forces drivers to make multiple twists and taps of the rotary controller to complete simple tasks. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility come on all versions except the base CX-30. The rear seat isn’t particularly roomy, which is par for the course with a small SUV. Mazda says that rear footwells are slightly slanted to better accommodate rear-seat passengers. While it may be technically called a five-seat SUV, it’s more suited for carrying four adults, max.

What Drives It

The CX-30 uses a 186-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Both front- and all-wheel drive are available. This is the same combination as in the—you guessed it—Mazda3. In our tests we found the powertrain worked well and never hesitated. Our front-wheel-drive car’s fuel economy was good, but it didn’t put the 3 among the category’s most fuel-efficient cars.

Mazda CX-30 badge

Safety and Driver Assist Systems

The standard Mazda i-Activsense safety system includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and a driver monitoring system. Blind spot warning is only on the top three trim levels; the base model doesn’t get it.

Mazda says the driver monitoring system, called Driver Attention Alert, uses an infrared camera and infrared LEDs to detect how wide open the driver’s eyes are at any given time while driving, the number of times he or she blinks, and the angle of the mouth and face "in order to determine the level of drowsiness or fatigue."

The system works with the SUV’s AEB system and sounds an alert to make the driver aware of an impending collision.

Mazda CX-30 rear
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