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A closeup shows the front of a 2020 Mazda CX-5 and a woman walking towards it.

Mazda SUVs: Commanding American Roadways

You may have noticed that the Mazda dealer near you has some very attractive SUVs in the lot, just waiting to be test driven and taken home. What started as a cork and machinery company in 1920 has evolved tremendously in the past 100 years, from fledgling manufacturing of small three-wheeled pickup trucks in 1930, to the first US-based Mazda operation landing in Seattle, WA in 1970. Today, the Mazda CX series of SUVs is lauded by critics for their performance, their luxury-level comfort and features, and, most of all, for their comparably modest price tags. While more and more SUVs command the American roadways, Mazda has gamely stepped up to the challenge with some of the most coveted models on the market today. So let’s take a look at the four main SUVs that make up this lineup.

The 2020 Mazda CX-3

Mazda’s subcompact crossover offering is the CX-3. If making decisions is not your forte, this small SUV might be perfect for you. The 2020 CX-3 is offered in only one trim: the Sport. While drivers will still have to choose between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, the beauty of a one-trim model is that everything is standard.

The CX-3 stands not-so-tall on 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Under the hood is a 2.0L SKYACTIV-G 4 cylinder engine, which provides 148 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque. This engine is paired to a 6-speed SKYACTIV automatic transmission, which includes both a manual shift and a Sport mode for ultimate enjoyment. Additionally, the front-wheel drive versions have a fuel economy of 29 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway, while the all-wheel drive models lose very little, with 27 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway.

Inside, there’s room for up to five passengers, with two cloth-trimmed sport seats in the front, and room for three in the 60/40 folding rear seat. Standard features include push-button start, automatic climate control with a standard pollen filter, remote keyless entry with illumination, and the “answer back” feature, which combines beeps and flashes to let you know what buttons have been pressed. As for entertainment, the Mazda CX-3 leaves almost nothing on the table, with compatibility with Aha, Pandora, and STitcher, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, a voice command system, and audio text message delivery and reply functions. This model is well equipped and definitely a good choice.

A red 2020 Mazda CX-30 from a Mazda dealer near you is driving on a highway at dusk.

The 2020 Mazda CX-30

Unlike its smaller sibling, the CX-30 is offered in four distinct packages: the base CX-30, the Select, the Preferred, and the Premium. Each trim features a 2.5L SKYACTIV-G 4-cylinder engine, which offers 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Though the newest subcompact SUV in Mazda’s lineup is a bit larger than the CX-3, the fuel economy remains impressive, with optional all-wheel drive models reaching 25 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway. Premium models offer cylinder deactivation technology, which improves fuel economy to 25 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway when in use.

The differences between the trims lies within the features. The base CX-30 model is equipped with an 8-speaker audio system, folding power side mirrors, power doors and windows with a remote keyless entry system, and push-button start, but lacks the fancier features, such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. Upper trims offer the smartphone integration technology and continue to add on. The Select package introduces rear privacy glass, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic assist, and dual-zone automatic climate control with rear air conditioning vents, among other features.

Stepping up to the Preferred package adds a Bose 12-speaker audio system with Centerpoint 2 and AudioPilot technology, featuring speakers that have been intelligently placed to improve quality. The side mirrors gain memory settings and integrated turn signals, while heated, ergonomically designed front seats await the weary driver. The Premium trim features gloss black exterior accents, a power moonroof, and paddle shifters, and an interior that reflects its namesake. There is so much being offered in this model, so if you need a bit more power than the CX-3, the CX-30 may be the best choice.

The 2020 Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 is classified as a compact SUV and comfortably seats four, though safety equipment for five total passengers is included. The rear seat folds 40/20/40 to allow a generous 59.6 cu.ft. of maximum cargo space. Five trim levels are available: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature. The CX-5 has earned nation-wide top scores for safety and overall drivability, too, which has elevated its overall popularity.

The Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trims are graced with a 2.5L SKYACTIV-G 4-cylinder engine, a 6-speed automatic transmission, and standard front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive can be optioned in, as with the CX-3 and CX-30. The standard engine offers 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, with a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds when properly equipped. This engine is also well-prepared in the fuel economy department, with 25 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway on front-wheel drive models. And the all-wheel drive models reduce this figure by one.

The Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models are given a 2.5L turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 4-cylinder engine known as the “Dynamic Pressure Turbo.” This impressive beast offers 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque with standard all-wheel drive, leading to an overall towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. The fuel economy for these models is 22 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway.

The Sport model sets the standard for features with an impressive array that includes automatic windshield wipers and high beams, as well as a Bluetooth-equipped infotainment system with text messaging access. The Touring model adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, along with power-adjustable seats, climate control, and extra USB ports. The Grand Touring sits on larger wheels and boasts leather seating and a premium Bose sound system, along with a sunroof and power liftgate.

The Grand Touring Reserve upgrades the touchscreen infotainment system to an 8-inch model, including a head-up display, and heated seats, and steering wheel. While it may seem that there can’t possibly be anything left to add to the Signature trim, the premium Nappa leather and wood interior, parking sensors, 360-degree camera, and navigation system demonstrate the contrary. This Mazda model gives options on options for drivers, making it a truly customizable choice in the lineup.

A gray 2020 Mazda CX-9 os parked in front a modern home.

The 2020 Mazda CX-9

The largest offering in Mazda’s SUV lineup is the CX-9, a three-row crossover that seats up to seven. With all seats occupied, the CX-9 still offers 14.4 cu.ft. of cargo space, which more than doubles to 38.2 cu.ft. with the third row folded. Folding the third and second rows reveals a virtual studio on wheels, with an amazing 71.2 cu.ft. And with this model, four trims are offered: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature.

All CX-9 models feature the same engine: a 2.5L SKYACTIV-G turbocharged inline-4 that offers 227-250 hp and 310-320 lb-ft of torque. Like the other SUVs in Mazda’s lineup, front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive can be optioned. Front-wheel drive models maintain an admirable fuel economy of 22 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway, while all-wheel drive models lose a bit to utility, coming in at 20 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway.

The Sport model features a split-bench second-row seating model, while the Touring and Grand Touring models offer an optional second-row pair of captain’s chairs with a walk-through center aisle. On Signature models, the captain’s chairs become standard and are accompanied by a spacious center console. The features of the CX-9 are similar to the CX-5, if not a bit more luxurious and accommodating to larger crowds. The front seats are heated with power-adjustable seats, a privilege that is extended to the second-row seats in Grand Touring models and above. Power liftgates are installed on Touring models, with higher trims offering hands-free operation. If you want pure luxury, this Mazda SUV is likely the right fit for you.

The Mazda Lineup

Whether you realized it or not, Mazda has hit this SUV season with gusto. The CX-3, CX-30, CX-5, and CX-9 are luxuriously-appointed SUVs with price tags that make them highly affordable. They’re well-equipped with the latest safety equipment, as well, and receive top marks for drivability, making them some of the highest-rated overall value SUVs on the market today. If you’re in the market for an SUV, check out the Mazda lineup; you will not be sorry.