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A blue 2021 Honda HR-V is parked in front of a restaurant after winning the 2021 Honda HR-V vs 2021 Mazda CX-3 comparison.

2021 Honda HR-V vs 2021 Mazda CX-3

If you’re aiming at a compact SUV for your next vehicle purchase, you may have already realized the magic of these small powerhouses. Compact SUVs have become increasingly popular over the past few years, with many consumers choosing stylish, active vehicles. A top-performer you’ll want to take note of is the Honda HR-V, a vehicle famous for its passenger and cargo space, amazing fuel economy, and style. How does the 2021 Honda HR-V compare versus its strongest competitor, the Mazda CX-3? We’ve curated a review of the most important features you’ll want to keep in mind as you consider the 2021 Honda HR-V vs the 2021 Mazda CX-3.

Interior Space

SUVs are famously ideal as a family car, but even if you’re not looking to carry multiple passengers, interior perks, wiggle room, and cargo space are likely among your top concerns. Both the 2021 Honda HR-V and 2021 Mazda CX-3 have a 5-passenger seating capacity and standard cloth bucket seats. You’ll find room for a large family in either compact SUV. However, there is a clear space advantage in the 2021 Honda HR-V. The 2021 HR-V has a spacious front seat that provides ample leg and headroom.

Not to mention, it has a unique trick up its sleeve not found in the 2021 Mazda CX-3. The HR-V’s second-row Magic Seat is the surprise feature allowing the rear seatbacks to fold flat when released. The Magic Seat, combined with a low load floor, allows cargo to fit inside easily. The rear seat’s bottom cushion can be flipped up as well, allowing an even deeper space between the rear and front seat backs for tall cargo. When the rear seats are stowed, you’ll find that you can stow even more cargo than many larger crossover vehicles.

How much space is there for your gear in the HR-V? The 2021 HR-V interior boasts a spacious max cargo volume of 58.8 cu.ft., 24.3 cu.ft. behind the first set of seats, and 24.3 cu.ft. of volumes when all the seats are up. If you compare that to the 2021 CX-3 interior, the CX-3 has a max cargo volume of 42.7 cu.ft, 17.8 cu.ft. behind the second row, and 17.8 cu.ft. when all the seats are in use. Both offer ample space, but you’ll want to look into the HR-V if you see yourself needing more space for your gear as the HR-V offers some serious cargo volume packed into this compact frame. You’ll find plenty of space for all of your family’s work, soccer, and school gear in the HR-V with room to spare.


How do the 2021 HR-V and 2021 CX-3 stack up on comfort? The HR-V has standard black and gray cloth seat trim options, standard premium synthetic vinyl seats, or optional leather seats. The 2021 Mazda CX-3 has standard black cloth upholstery and premium synthetic seats without leather or vinyl seat options. If you’re going for the base-level trim materials, the 2021 Mazda CX-3 should be adequate. However, the 2021 Honda HR-V provides the upgraded option of leather seats. This is a major consideration if you prefer leather over cloth seats, would like to customize the color of your seating, or foresee needing to clean the interior regularly.

The black leather interior and infotainment system is shown on a 2021 Honda HR-V.

Interior Tech

Whether you’re driving solo or with a large family, technology is at the top of the list of must-haves in your next compact SUV. You’ll find luxury features in the top trim of the 2021 HR-V Touring trim, but there is a lot to boast about, even at the base level. The 2021 HR-V has a Display Audio infotainment system that includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen standard across all but the base LX trim levels, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, large icons on-screen, and a volume knob as a stand-out feature among the screens.

Additional standard features available in both the 2021 Honda HR-V and 2021 Mazda CX-3 include Bluetooth connectivity, auxiliary audio input, MP3 player, steering wheel audio controls, power mirrors, A/C, cruise control, and keyless entry. Notable upgrades include a sunroof, heated front seats, passive entry, and driver assistance features. Overall, you’ll find the HR-V filled with comfort, style, and technology perks.

Overall Size

The 2021 Honda HR-V is lighter and shorter than the 2021 Mazda CX-3, but longer and wider, with greater ground clearance. This additional length and width contribute to its additional cargo space, a boon for those traveling with gear and/or passengers. The lighter weight reduces bulk without, as the 2021 HR-V demonstrates, sacrificing the crucial passenger and cargo space elements. The 2021 HR-V’s shorter height can also be an asset in navigating tight spaces.


What exterior colors are available on the 2021 Honda HR-V vs the 2021 Mazda CX-3? The 2021 Honda HR-V features Crystal Black Pearl, Lunar Silver Metallic, and Modern Steel Metallic as standard exterior paint options. However, if you want to spice up the exterior paint job, you can choose a model with Aegean Blue Metallic, Milano Red, Midnight Amethyst Metallic, or Platinum White Pearl. The 2021 Mazda CX-3 offers standard Ceramic Metallic, Deep Crystal Blue Mica, Eternal Blue Mica, Jet Black Mica, Machine Gray Metallic, Snowflake White Pearl Mica, and Soul Red Crystal Metallic exterior paint colors to choose from.

A red 2021 Mazda CX-3 is shown parked in the city, angled right.

Fuel Economy

A crucial element of any vehicle is its performance under the hood. With the automotive industry now introducing widespread innovations to help you travel smarter, longer while reducing your carbon footprint, being practical, and providing top-notch fuel economy. This is particularly the case given the traditional challenge of larger vehicles to deliver fuel efficiency with their size. Can the 2021 Honda HR-V perform against the 2021 Mazda CX-3?

The 2021 Honda HR-V features a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The 2021’s greatest asset to those looking to get more mileage for less, however, is its larger fuel tank. The 2021 HR-V has a 28 MPG city, 34 MPG highway fuel economy with standard front-wheel drive, and a fuel tank capacity of 13.2 gallons. The 2021 CX-3 has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The CX-3 has a fuel economy of 29 MPG city and 34 MPG highway with standard front-wheel drive, with a fuel tank capacity of 12.7 gallons.

If you’re looking for performance, neither compact SUV will disappoint. Both of these SUVs offer practically the same amount of fuel economy, but the HR-V does have a larger fuel tank, so you will be able to travel for longer between fill-ups. Also, even in the case of the all-wheel HR-V or four-wheel CX-3, the vehicles will still see the same numbers in fuel economy, so either one you choose is going to be good.

The Verdict

The verdict? Both the 2021 Honda HR-V and the 2021 Mazda CX-3 offer four doors and a five-passenger seating capacity with adequate interior space, technology, and engine performance. However, if you’re searching for a clear advantage in cargo space and leather seating options, the 2021 Honda HR-V is the clear winner. You’ll find more room to store your gear, which is a must if you’re traveling with friends, family, carpooling, or need space to store all of your gear. Not to mention, leather seats are also easier to clean and add an extra touch of style.

The 2021 Honda HR-V is also a top pick if you need a compact SUV with all of the cargo space without the added height and weight. Maneuverability is a feature you’ll want to consider, whether you’re traveling through an urban area with lots of tight spaces or traveling through rural areas with potential obstacles. All in all, despite the similarities between these two vehicles, we think that the 2021 Honda HR-V comes out on top as the most well-rounded subcompact crossover SUV.