WHAT IT IS: The CX-30 is Mazda’s all-new compact crossover, which is based on the popular Mazda3 sedan. Consumer preferences are leaning heavily towards crossovers, so Mazda was able to wedge another one into their lineup between the CX-3 and CX-5. I immediately noticed how premium it felt and looked and was really impressed with how much car you could get considering it has a base price of only $21,900. My test model was a top-of-the-line Premium with AWD, and even it topped out at only $31,570 with options. The Premium trim comes with leather seats, and the interior was an interesting color combination of black and brown surfaces, but it certainly worked.

The CX-30 is not a large vehicle, but it still will fit full-sized adults in the backseat, although I personally would prefer to not sit in the back for a multi-hour road trip. For brief trips around town or for kids, which is how most people utilize their back seats anyway, then the CX-30 provides plenty of space.

Being an all-new model, the CX-30 has lots of great modern niceties, such as a standard 8.8-inch center display and LED headlights. All CX-30s are powered by the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 186 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission. In such a small package, you’re definitely getting more oomph than several other economy-focused compact crossovers.

With four trim levels available that span a range from $21,900 to $28,200, you have lots of options at how fancy you would like to make your CX-30. I actually think that the sweet spot is one of the top two trims. If you want leather, you’ll have to go with the Premium trim, but I would probably go with the Preferred trim myself.

The driving experience is certainly sportier than some of the zombie-like options from other manufacturers, but it comes at the cost of feeling lots of bumps on the road. If you are looking for a car that emphasizes smooth-sailing, then I would look elsewhere. With a relatively short length, it’s certainly easy to park.

MPG: 27 combined/25 city/32 highway

PRICE: $21,900 base price. $31,750 as-tested.

UPSIDES: Fun, premium, and different.

DOWNSIDES: The ride is a little rough.

WRAP-UP: I really liked the CX-30, and I feel that it easily punches above its weight with how nice it looks (especially in the absolutely stunning Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint ($595) and how much more fun it is to drive than most other compact crossovers. If you need a bunch of cargo space or rear seat legroom, then you need to shop up a size class, but for the same money you’ll be getting much less in the way of bells and whistles. People wonder if it’s worth trading in a 5-7-year-old car for a new model, and the CX-30 is a perfect example of the next generation of cars and how much safety and technology that they can deliver at such a low price point.

Wilson Calvert
Author: Wilson CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist / Director of Operations
I am a long-time Houstonian and am obsessed with cars, soccer, traveling, bourbon and airplanes. I write a regular car review column for The Tribune and travel articles a few times per year.

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