2021 Mazda CX-3 Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.
We have some good news, and we have some bad news. We'll start with the bad news. We don't really have anything to compare the CX-3 Sport trim level to. Why? Well, it is the only trim level in its line-up!
So, what is the good news? We have a lot of leeway here to go really in-depth with this extra-small SUV. It really is an attractive vehicle, inside and out, so we have a lot to talk about. We will also be talking about some of the subtle differences between the front- and all-wheel drive drivetrain variants. There are some other optional accessories you can tack on as well, so we will be sure to go over those.
What do we think about the 2021 Mazda CX-3 overall? Honestly, it is a really good alternative to bigger crossovers like the CX-5 or even the ever-popular Honda CR-V. Downsizing does not mean you are getting a worse vehicle by any means; it just means you are paying less for less space. Trust us, you will not be getting a lot fewer features on the CX-3 - it is still loaded despite having everything jam-packed into just one trim level.
The interior really is beautiful and reeks of quality materials. There are not that many hard plastics, and everything feels comfortable. The suspension is compliant enough, dispatching bumps and other road imperfections with remarkable ease. For a vehicle in this segment, the lack of body roll is quite impressive. Handling feels controlled and well-mannered, even while winding through tight turns. Nothing really seems to faze this vehicle, which makes for one excellent daily driver.
If you are a larger-sized adult, you might find that the back and thigh support on the front seats is just slightly lackluster. However, everyone else should feel comfy enough sitting in them. The one intrusion you have to deal with inside the CX-3 Sport is noise. Wind noise seeps in at highway speeds, yes, but when the engine is pushed to full throttle, she really gets whiny.
All in all, the driving experience is an engaging one, and the Sport name is definitely an appropriate one. The engine does require more throttle once you've already gotten her up to speed on the highway, but the steering is incredibly precise and easy to guide through corners. It provides just the right amount of feedback to the driver.
There are a lot of nifty creature comforts that make the CX-3 even more enjoyable, and we are going to get to those in a moment. Let us take a deeper look at those as well as the mechanical specs. Could the 2021 Mazda CX-3 be the right vehicle for you? Or should you upgrade to something bigger like the CX-5? Strap on your seatbelt; it's time to take a virtual ride inside of the CX-3 and find out just what the Sport trim level is really all about.
2021 Mazda CX-3 Sport - Only One Trim Level
Just what sets the 2021 Mazda CX-3's sole trim level - the Sport - apart from other extra-small SUVs? What makes it a great alternative to its big sister, the CX-5? Let us kick things off by talking mechanical specs. What's under the hood? What makes the CX-3 Sport go?
The CX-3 Sport trim is powered by a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with VVT. This engine is able to generate a respectable power output of 148 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque. The engine comes with an advanced direct injection fuel system, aluminum alloy cylinder head, and an aluminum alloy engine block. Also, SKYACTIV-VECHICLE DYNAMICS with G-Vectoring Control comes standard.
As far as fuel economy goes, if you decide to stick with the standard front-wheel drive system, the CX-3 Sport has an EPA estimate of 29 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. However, if you opt for the all-wheel drive system, it does drop down a little bit to 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. These numbers are pretty much on par with the rest of what you will find in the extra-small SUV segment, and real-world tests do reflect these estimates. So, in summation, the fuel economy is about what you should expect it to be: Not the greatest for its segment, but definitely right on track with everything else.
There is a standard SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed automatic transmission that comes equipped on the Sport. This transmission has Sport mode (of course) and manual-shift. The chassis is structured as a unibody with a ring structure, and there are diagonal hydraulic 4-wheel disc brakes equipped. Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist come with the 4-wheel, 4-channel ABS system. You also get rack-and-pinion power steering, electronic power assist steering, and a suspension system with a MacPherson strut up front with a stabilizer bar and, for the rear, a torsion beam.
Moving right along, let us take a look at what the CX-3 Sport has to offer on the outside. Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder, but it sure is hard to deny that this is one good-looking vehicle. The CX-3 Sport has a shark fin-style antenna mounted on top of its roof (befitting of the sporty style) and a lot of swooping curves all around. There are auto-leveling LED headlights up front, and the headlights have an auto on/off function that has early lighting sensitivity built in. The front lighting system is adaptive, taking the hassle out of adjusting the lights for the driver. You also get high beam control, LED daytime running lights, and turn indicators built into the power-folding body-colored side mirrors.
On top of that, the CX-3 Sport's body comes with door handles done in your choice of the body color. The side body garnish is black. The windshield wipers are variable intermittent and able to automatically sense rain, and there is also a rear intermittent windshield wiper. A bright finish adorns the dual exhaust outlets in the rear. The vehicle rides atop standard 16-inch alloy wheels.
The interior, of course, is where things really matter since that is where you will be spending all of your time. And you definitely do not want to be stuck in something that is uncomfortable or - dare we say it - boring. Well, you probably will not be either of those things while sitting inside of the CX-3 Sport's well-designed cabin. The only area in which you might be disappointed is, well, its area.
With 38.4 inches of headroom up front and 37.2 inches in the rear, it is safe to say that average-sized adults should not feel too squished for space. Leg room up front comes in at 41.7 inches, which is certainly enough, while the rear seat occupants get a solid 35 inches - sufficient for kids but a bit cramped for adults.
Cargo volume is also somewhat . With all seats left in place, the Sport gives you 17.8 cubic feet of cargo space. You can fold the second row down to get 42.7 cubes, and the seat - while it does not fold completely flat - does fold down quite low and is easy to release.
The CX-3 Sport does come with a pretty sizable list of standard comfort and convenience features for you to enjoy. It has a pollen filter built into the automatic climate control system. The driver's window has an automatic one-touch up/down feature, and all of the windows and doors are power functioning. There is also a push button start, auto-hold with the electronic parking brake, overhead lights in the front and rear of the cabin, and heating ducts for the rear seat. The fuel door has a remote release inside of the cabin for easy use, and the rear-view mirror is a day/night one. There is an 'answer back' feature that comes along with the remote keyless illuminated entry system, which makes getting into and out of the vehicle a little bit safer and easier. On top of all that, the Sport has one 12-volt power outlet, dual covered visor vanity mirrors, and a tilting and telescoping steering wheel.
Storage areas can be found throughout the cabin. The glove box is sized well enough, and there are several cup holders up front. There are some storage areas and bottle holders on the doors in the front and rear. Also, the front passenger seat has its own seatback pocket for extra storage space. The center bin has space underneath the cover for a few small items, and there is a light in the cargo area that can help you see in the dark while loading or unloading items.
Standard cloth trim adorns the doors, as do black armrests. There are also black center console knee pads, black interior trim, cloth-trimmed sport seats, a driver's seat that is 6-way manually adjustable, and carpeted floor mats throughout.
Of course, we cannot leave out the infotainment features. Drivers get treated to a standard 7-inch full color touchscreen infotainment display, and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity for audio streaming and phone comes standard. You also get standard smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 6-speaker sound system with an AM/FM radio and automatic level control, an auxiliary input jack, a USB audio input, and audio and cruise controls mounted onto the steering wheel.
The MAZDA CONNECT Infotainment System that comes with the Sport includes an array of tech features. These include voice command for the system, multi-function command control, program information for the Radio Broadcast Data System, SMS test messaging functionality, an E911 automatic emergency notification, and internet radio integration with Aha, Pandora, and Stitcher.
Instrumentation features are simply laid out along the dash. The design - silver surrounds around black gauges with white lettering - makes it easy for the driver to follow along. The instrumentation features include the Active Driving Display, a trip computer, a digital clock and ambient temperature gauge, a fuel level gauge, and a tachometer.
Finally, we have the CX-3 Sport's safety and security features. These are absolutely important to have, and Mazda doesn't skimp. You get everything from a rear-view camera to a tire pressure monitoring system, from Smart Brake Support with a collision warning feature to Advanced Smart City Brake Support with its ultra-helpful day and night time pedestrian detection feature. You even get Lane Departure Warning, Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Hill Launch Assist, and Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control System. All told, it is a pretty comprehensive bundling of standard safety and security features that seem to work about as well as can be expected.
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Which Trim to Choose?
Well, you do not have too many choices here. Either go with the 2021 Mazda CX-3 or don't. Personally, we recommend the Sport trim. If you have your heart set on getting an extra-small SUV, the CX-3 Sport is one of the better options in its segment. The only other vehicles that best it are the Subaru Crosstrek, the Kia Soul, the Hyundai Kona, the Buick Encore GX, and the Mazda CX-30, which was just released in 2020 - and to much applause.
For having been introduced in 2016 and not really revamped since then, the CX-3 is holding its weight against some strong newcomers and recently-redesigned, well-known contenders. The CX-3 is small but mighty, standing out from the crowd with an elegant design inside and out. Despite a few setbacks with the engine and space, the 2021 Mazda CX-3 should be quite the crowd-pleaser.
• Compare the 2020 Mazda CX-3 Trim Levels