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Finding a subcompact SUV that has an exciting performance and visual aesthetics is a whole lot easier said than done. Admittedly, most subcompacts just feel basic, even when you get to the higher trim levels. That is why the 2019 Mazda CX-3 is such a pleasant surprise. It does not look or feel like your average subcompact SUV and, therefore, is a real stand-out in its class. Of course, Mazda is fairly synonymous with creating stand-out vehicles.
The new 2019 CX-3 marks a mid-cycle refresh for the line-up. Nothing terribly significant has changed, and that is a good thing. However, Mazda has added an electronic parking brake and center armrest bin, leaving you with more room to stash your electronics and other small items. Also, the engine gets a boost in power and some noise reduction. All in all, these updates make for quite an impressive drive quality.
Of course, choosing the right trim level is going to take a bit of time and consideration. While there are only three trim levels to choose from (the Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring), all of them are attractive purchases. Buyers on strict budgets will appreciate the fact that Mazda packs as many standard features as possible into even the base Sport trim.
In order to help you settle on the best trim level for you, let us break down each member of the 2019 Mazda CX-3 line-up. By the end of this review, you should have a clearer idea of which CX-3 trim will fulfill your needs.
Compare the 2019 Mazda CX-3 Sport vs Touring - What is the difference?
The Sport is Mazda's base trim for the CX-3. With a starting MSRP of just a little bit over $20,000, it is easy to see why so many customers are initially attracted to this trim level. But is it really the best overall deal?
Well, let's take a look at its mechanical specs first. The Sport comes with a standard SKYACTIV-G 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine that is matched up with a SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed automatic transmission that has Sport mode and manual-shift. The powertrain musters up 148 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque. All trim levels can be bought with either front- or all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive gets you a better fuel economy (29 mpg city and 34 mpg on the highway in the Sport), but all-wheel drive (which, on the Sport, nets you 27 mpg city/32 mpg highway) is nothing to scoff at either.
On the outside, the Sport is pretty well-equipped. It rides atop 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels and can be spotted by its modestly-sized black grille and black garnishes running along the sides of the body. There is a shark-fin style antenna, a rear roof spoiler, and dual exhaust outlets that have been given a bright finish. The headlights are clear-lens halogens, and daytime running lights come standard. The headlights are automatic off-on. There is an intermittent rear windshield wiper and variable intermittent wipers for the front windshield. The side mirrors are powered and have integrated turn signals; like the door handles, they are body-colored.
The interior of the Sport is packed with features as well. For example, comfort and convenience features include a 12-volt power outlet, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry with an "answer back" feature, a push button start function, an air conditioning system with a pollen filtration device, a remote fuel door release, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column. There are plenty of small item storage areas, and there is a light in the cargo area for when you need to access it in the dark. The seats are upholstered in cloth, and black trim provides accenting throughout the cabin. The driver's seat is 6-ways manually adjustable.
There is a standard 7-inch touchscreen display that can help you meet your infotainment needs with the MAZDA CONNECT system. This set-up includes voice command capabilities, multi-function commander control, and radio integration with Pandora, Aha, and Stitcher. SMS text message automatic delivery and reply is equipped as well, as is the E911 automatic emergency notification feature. An AM/FM radio accompanies the 6-speaker sound system, and there is a standard auxiliary input jack, USB audio input, and Bluetooth connectivity. Many of the controls for these features are mounted onto the steering wheel for easy access.
Mazda doesn't skimp on the Sport's safety features either. The list of standard safety features includes hill launch assist, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert, Smart City Brake Support, an anti-theft alarm system with an engine immobilizer function, a keyless remote panic button, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Considering that many of Mazda's competitors do not put blind-spot monitoring as standard on their base trims, this inclusion makes for a really nice touch.
Of course, the mid-level Touring trim equips even more than the Sport. While it equips the same engine and transmission, the differences in the two trim levels are more aesthetic and functional. On the outside, the two trims do look fairly similar. However, you can tell them apart by the Touring's Piano Black pillar garnish. Also, it comes with heated side mirrors, and the front windshield wipers are upgraded to rain-sensing ones. Also, the Touring gets 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, which do slightly change the vehicle's ride quality.
On the inside, you will find an assortment of additional features. The Touring comes with automatic climate control, cruise control (with controls for it mounted onto the steering wheel, of course), and the Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry System. The upholstery gets upgraded to some chic leather-trimmed sport seats. There is also leather wrapping on the steering wheel, shift knob, and parking brake handle. The doors are also trimmed in synthetic leather. As an extra measure of comfort, the front seats are heated.
Infotainment and safety features are basically the same between the Sport and Touring trims, but you can opt for more on the Touring. The Touring i-ACTIVSENSE Package gives you a lane departure warning, Advanced Smart City Brake Support with pedestrian detection, an active driving display, high beam control, auto-leveling LED headlights, and LED combination taillights. There is also the Preferred Equipment Package, which comes with a 7-speaker Bose sound system, a power sliding glass moonroof, a 4-month trial subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD radio, and a rear tonneau cover. Not bad, right?
Compare the 2019 CX-3 Touring vs Grand Touring Trims. What is the difference?
There is, of course, still the line-topping Grand Touring trim. You get the same standard powertrain with your choice of front- or all-wheel drive, so the power output is the same. So, as you can probably imagine, the upgrades you get are reserved more for the exterior and interior features.
On the Grand Touring's exterior, you get the full LED treatment, meaning that daytime running lights, headlights, and taillights are all upgraded. There are also LED fog lights added on for improved visibility. High beam control and an adaptive front lighting system come standard as well. The Grand Touring also looks a bit different with its brightly finished front bumper and side body garnishes. The grille is decked out in shiny silver finish, giving the impression of luxury.
The cabin of the Grand Touring gets quite a few boosts too. Paddle shifters mounted onto the steering wheel have been added on, and the rear tonneau cover that comes as part of the Touring's Preferred Equipment Package is a standard feature for the Grand Touring. Mazda gives the Grand Touring Lux Suede door trim, and you can pick a two-toned (Parchment and Black) interior trim over the standard Black.
In terms of infotainment features, the Grand Touring is where the real upgrades occur. It gets the 7-speaker Bose sound system that comes as an option on the Touring, and it gains Mazda's built-in navigational system. The active driving display also comes standard. Safety features also get a few extras tacked on, including Mazda Radar Cruise Control with a Stop & Go function. Essentially, all of the options included in the Touring's i-ACTIVSENSE Package come standard on the Grand Touring.
There is one optional package available for the Grand Touring. The Premium Package adds 6-way power adjust and lumbar support to the driver seat, memory settings for the driver seat, a heated steering wheel, traffic sign recognition, and an automatically-dimming rear-view mirror. It is a little perplexing why these are not included as standard features since so many other line-topping trims tend to have them.
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Which One Should You Choose?
Regardless of which trim level you choose, you cannot really go wrong with the 2019 Mazda CX-3. It gives sufficient power from the engine while not compromising on fuel efficiency - a winning combination for a subcompact SUV. It is also a vehicle that is packed with standard features.
Truth be told, the base Sport trim is probably going to be the one that appeals to most buyers. It is very reasonably priced and wraps a ton of features into one nice, shiny package. Of course, if you can swing the price, stepping all the way up to the Grand Touring trim level gives you everything you could possibly ask for in a new vehicle. But the Sport is the best deal this model year.