The first thing you’ll notice about the all-new 2021 Mazda CX-30 is the massive quantity of available trims. There are seven, to be exact, and they’re all distinctly different and worth exploring. Mazda went hard on exterior styling with the newest version of its subcompact SUV, devising a KODO Japanese-inspired design strategy that favors smooth curves over angles and edges.
We love the CX-30 because it feels like a European luxury SUV. That’s thanks to Mazda’s liberal use of luxury finishes in the cabin, as well as a robust list of standard safety features and an available turbocharged engine that infuses it with some serious performance ability. The CX-30 is a luxury SUV in every area, but the price, which will make budget-conscious buyers very happy indeed.
Starting at just $21,900 for the base 2.5 S, the CX-30 is seriously affordable. Even its uppermost trim, the 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus, is just $33,900 and gets you an upgraded turbocharged motor and several standard driver-assist systems that keep occupants extra safe while on the road. At the highest trim levels, the interior looks more like a high-end German luxury import.
KODO aside, the CX-30 is a great looking compact SUV. Mazda refers to a ‘sweeping S-curve’ in its marketing literature, and while we’d usually dismiss that as advertising speak, it’s actually very clear what they mean. The lines of this CX-30 are smooth and sleek, so they capture the light in an S-pattern that defines its curves very uniquely. The question is, does the CX-30 live up to all the hype? We think so, but we’ll let you be the judge.
These days it’s all about connectivity. If a car doesn’t offer smartphone compatibility and app-based vehicle management, it’s probably not going to earn a spot on a buyer’s list. Mazda knows this and outfits the CX-30 accordingly. Technology takes center stage – literally – with a clever center-mounted infotainment hub prominently featured on the dash and ready to connect with any smartphone.
The CX-30 offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, so streaming music and podcasts is as easy as touching the 8.8-inch infotainment display. A handy central control knob lets you easily toggle between features, or you can use voice commands. Choose the optional 12-speaker Bose audio system, and you’ll turn the cabin into a concert hall. It’s engineered specifically for the CX-30’s interior, so the acoustics are ideal.
The available MyMazda app fuses the smartphone with the vehicle by giving drivers a gateway for each to control the other. Use your phone to remote start your CX-30 or view vehicle diagnostics, like miles remaining until the next oil change is due. You can even control the interior cabin temperature right from the app, so it’s as warm or cool as you like it before you ever get in. As soon as you slide into the driver’s seat, your smartphone connects via Bluetooth and is ready to seamlessly interact with the onboard infotainment system.
Here’s where the CX-30 really shines. It’s equipped with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 186 horsepower and a fuel economy rating of 25 MPG city and 33 MPG highway with front-wheel drive and a smooth six-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5-liter engine is standard on the 2.5 S, the Select, the Preferred, and the Premium, all of which are value-priced without sacrificing fun, responsive driving capability.
Opt for the 2.5 Turbo, the 2.5 Turbo Premium, or the 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus trims, and you’ll enjoy Mazda’s thrilling 250 horsepower Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter Turbo engine and standard all-wheel drive. Fuel economy is still impressive, at 22 MPG city and 30 MPG highway, but performance bumps up to a whole new level. That’s thanks to a torque rating of 320 lb-ft, which gives the CX-30 plenty of throaty acceleration and, when combined with all-wheel drive traction, a surprising ability to hug tight curves and nimbly accelerate.
Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive system continually monitors road conditions and actively adjusts traction to the tires that have the most contact with the road, so you’re getting a safer ride regardless of weather or driving conditions. In fact, Mazda’s all-wheel drive system can automatically swing from front-wheel drive to four-wheel drive, depending on road conditions, and continuously adjust power to each wheel in order to maintain a maximum grip on the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the CX-30 its coveted five-star safety rating, and it earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That’s high praise from two of the toughest testing agencies around, but that’s just the beginning of the CX-30’s safety advantages. Mazda has definitely put their all into it when it comes to the available safety features in the CX-30.
The CX-30 comes standard with several advanced driver-assist systems on all trims. This includes the adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. Lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning work together to keep the vehicle in its intended lane of traffic and alert the driver when the vehicle drifts and the turn signal isn’t engaged. Finally, drivers also get the benefit of automatic emergency braking to help them stop in an emergency situation.
Optional additional safety equipment includes a nifty head-up display, which shows driving speed and other vehicle information. Also, the blind-spot monitoring does what it says and monitors the vehicle’s blind spot and alerts the driver when a vehicle enters it if the turn signal is engaged. On the 2.5 Turbo Premium and the 2.5 Premium Plus, a standard head-up display keeps important vehicle information, like speed and navigation instructions, easy to monitor on the windshield.
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 is a value-priced crossover, but if you want to spend a little more and opt for the top-of-the-line CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll enjoy the standard upgraded 12-speaker Bose audio system, along with dynamic LED headlights and taillights, cool side mirrors with integrated turn signal lights and a tilt-in-reverse feature that helps visibility when backing up, and a handy rear power liftgate.
The CX-30’s interior is all about luxury, and we mean luxury at a German luxury import level. It’s all about power everything – windows, doors, etc. – and a push-button start. Dual-zone climate control and rear air conditioning vents keep everyone comfortable, and heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are nice cold weather touches. It’s the overall interior aesthetics, though, that give the CX-30 its luxury feel. It feels like a much more expensive car.
Is the Mazda CX-30 Worth the Hype?
Our verdict? The 2021 Mazda CX-30 is one of the best-looking compact crossovers in the category. It’s more elegant than its sibling Mazda 3 hatchback yet manages to still provide a spirited and sporty driving experience, especially when it’s equipped with the available turbocharged engine. With a cargo capacity of 20 cubic feet, the CX-30 earns its sport utility vehicle distinction, but its impressive fuel economy is what we’d expect on a smaller compact car.
We think the CX-30 is a standout in the crowded compact crossover category. Looks alone give it this distinction, but upon closer inspection, you can’t argue its wide range of standard driver-assist safety technology, available highly upgraded finishes, and overall impressive curb appeal. All of this can be yours for a very reasonable price ranging from a low of just over $20,000 (the 2.5 S) to $33,900 (2.5 Turbo Premium Plus). All that technology and performance for under $35,000 is a great deal and definitely worth the hype it has received.