Among other changes is new front grille design, along with new taillights and wheels. An electronic parking brake has replaced the mechanical one, which allowed Mazda to redesign the center console area where the parking brake handle was housed.
For 2019, the CX-3 starts at $20,390 (plus $975 freight) for the base front-wheel-drive Sport model. All-wheel drive can be added to this or any model for an additional $1,400, bringing the Sport price to $21,790 with AWD.
Other trim levels and their prices are the Touring ($22,475, front drive; $23,875, AWD); and Grand Touring ($25,745, front drive; $27,145, AWD). Our test vehicle for this report was the front-drive Grand Touring model.
The Mazda i-ACTIVSENSE Package can be added to Sport models for $1,100, or to the Touring models for $1,000, while the Touring Preferred Package is offered on Touring models for $1,410; and the Grand Touring Premium Package on that trim level is $710.
With the i-ACTIVSENSE safety technology, which is included on the Grand Touring model, comes such extras as High Beam Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-Keep Assist, Radar Cruise Control, Smart Brake Support, rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic on/off LED headlights and combination taillights.
Also new for 2019 are improved interior materials and sound insulation, along with available full-leather seats, included on our Grand Touring test vehicle.
With the new electronic parking brake, the CX-3’s center console and armrest have been redesigned to add storage space. Other changes include redesigned front seats, and a new rear armrest with cupholders.
All models are powered by a normally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, cranking out 148 horsepower and 146 foot-pounds of torque. It’s connected to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift and sport modes. For 2019, the engine has been retuned for better efficiency, Mazda says.
EPA fuel-economy ratings are 29 mpg city/34 highway/31 combined for front-drive models, and 27/32/29 for all-wheel-drive versions.
The CX-3, originally introduced for 2016 to replace the Mazda2, plays in a growing field of small crossovers that includes such entries as the all-new Hyundai Kona and Nissan Kicks, along with the Subaru Crosstrek, Volvo XC40, Kia Soul, Chevrolet Trax, Ford EcoSport, Toyota C-HR, Honda H-RV, and Jeep Renegade, among others.
In the Mazda lineup, it’s the smallest crossover, below the compact five-passenger CX-5 and larger seven-passenger CX-9.
While all of these small CUVs are technically rated to carry five passengers, the CX-3 and most of its competitors essentially are meant to be two-person vehicles with an occasional backseat passenger or two – preferably a child or small adult. There just isn’t a lot of leg and knee room for rear passengers, and the rear center position is extremely tight in the CX-3 and most of its competitors.
Where the CX-3 stands out is in styling and the driving experience. As with most Mazda vehicles, the CX-3 is designed to provide a sporty driving experience, thanks to its crisp handling and the excellent acceleration from the 2.0-liter engine. Many competing vehicles have less power and rather sloppy handling in comparison with the CX-3.
For 2019, along with standard G-Vectoring Control vehicle-dynamics enhancements, the CX-3 also has a retuned suspension for a sportier ride, and recalibrated power steering and chassis for a “smoother, quieter and more enjoyable driving experience,” Mazda says.
To boil it down: The CX-3 is actually fun to drive, and never does it feel like an inexpensive car that the designers and engineers have taken shortcuts with to keep prices down.
There are lots of standard and optional features. Even the base Sport model now comes with such amenities as a direct tire-pressure monitoring system, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, cloth seats, power windows/remote door locks/outside mirrors, pushbutton start, two USB ports, 16-inch alloy wheels, rearview camera, and Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio pairing.
Also standard on the base model is a seven-inch, full-color audio display with voice-command capability.
Moving up to the Touring model brings 18-inch wheels, the advanced keyless entry, heated outside mirrors, automatic on/off LED headlights, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers and new piano-black pillar accents.
Also included on the Touring model are black leatherette seats with three-level heating adjustment for the front seats. There is a leather shift knob and steering wheel, and for the front passenger seat, a new manual seat lifter.
The Touring Preferred Equipment Package brings a Bose seven-speaker premium sound system, power glass moon roof, satellite and HD radio and a cargo cover.
Our top-of-the line Grand Touring included nearly everything one can get on the CX-3, including parchment or black full-leather seats with high-gloss, pleated piping; chrome accents on the front bumper and side sills; LED combination taillights; a full-color Active Driving Display head-up unit; power moon roof; adaptive LED headlights; LED fog lights and daytime running lights, Mazda Navigation and paddle shifters for the transmission’s manual mode.
The Grand Touring Premium Package, included on our tester, brought a six-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support; two-position driver memory system; heated steering wheel; traffic sign recognition; and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Three premium paint colors are available: Soul Red Crystal ($595), included on our test vehicle; Machine Gray Metallic ($300); and Snowflake White Pearl Mica ($200). We had the Parchment leather interior (off-white).
We did have two adults riding in the back seat of our CX-3 for several short weekend dining trips, and got some complaints about the tight space provided for their legs. But they weren’t overly cramped, at least not for those brief runs.
The cargo area is rather small, but so is the vehicle overall. There is 12.4 cubic feet of space behind rear seat, but that drops to just 9.6 cubic feet with the Bose audio system in place. With the rear seatback folded, there is 44.5 cubic feet of cargo space (41.7 with the Bose audio). The rear hatch is manually operated.
Besides the Grand Touring Premium Package and premium paint, extras on our test vehicle included a rear bumper guard ($100) and door-sill trim plates (100). Total sticker price for our CX-3 Grand Touring was $28,225, including freight and options.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2019 Mazda CX-3
The package:Subcompact, five-passenger, five-door, front- or all-wheel-drive, four-cylinder gasoline-powered crossover utility vehicle.
Highlights:Mazda’s new subcompact crossover, which arrived for 2016, received some exterior, interior and engine upgrades for 2019. This vehicle has a long list of standard and optional amenities even on the base model. It’s stylish, comfortable (at least for front passengers) and fun to drive – a hallmark of Mazda vehicles.
Negatives:Back seat is a tight fit for regular-size adults.
Engine:2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, normally aspirated.
Power/torque:148 HP./146 foot-pounds.
Brakes, front/rear:Disc/disc, antilock.
Curb weight:2,809-2,952 pounds.
Cargo volume:12.4 cubic feet behind rear seat (9.6 with Bose audio); 44.5 cubic feet, rear seatback folded (41.7 with Bose audio).
Towing capacity:Not provided.
EPA fuel economy:29 mpg city/34 highway/31 combined (2WD); 27/32/29 (AWD).
Fuel capacity/type:12.7 gallons (2WD); 11.9 gallons (AWD)/regular unleaded.
Base price range:$20,390-$27,145, plus $975 freight.
Price as tested:$28,225, including freight and options (Grand Touring, front-wheel drive).
Major competitors:Chevrolet Trax, Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, Nissan Kicks, Ford EcoSport, Toyota C-HR, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Subaru Crosstrek, Volvo XC40.
On the Road rating:8.3 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.