2020 vs 2021: What's the Difference?
Chic inside, sleek outside, the 2021 Mazda CX-3 is attractive all around. But it also blends a solid driving performance with a lot of interior comfort. The 2020 line-up saw the reduction of its trim levels trimmed down to just the Sport, but that has given Mazda some room to hone in on what needs advancements.
New for 2021 is night-time pedestrian detection on the forward collision warning feature, which was previously only able to detect pedestrians during the day. Other than that, Mazda has not made too many noteworthy changes for the model year.
And that is okay with us, given what changed in 2020. Not only did the trim level get reduced, but it was given exponentially more standard driver aids and infotainment features than before. Included in that list was smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
For a crossover SUV, the CX-3 offers a respectable fuel economy from its 4-cylinder engine (which generates 148 hp). On a front-wheel drive (FWD) CX-3 model, you get an EPA estimated 31 mpg combined, which puts the CX-3 up there with top competitors like Hyundai and Honda. That number decreases to 29 mpg combined on the all-wheel drive (AWD) CX-5. Real-world tests reflect the accuracy of these numbers.
Given the limited choices you get on the CX-3, you might not be attracted to the line-up over all. But the Sport trim level does have a lot to offer and warrants some further investigation.
What Do the Various Trim Levels Offer?
As you are already aware, the 2021 Mazda CX-3 only comes as the Sport trim level. Standard issue for the Sport trim level is a 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine that generates a power output of 148 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque. It gets matched up with a 6-speed automatic transmission, which delivers power to the front wheels. Of course, you can opt for AWD if you want increased stability and traction control.
Standard safety features on the CX-3 Sport include side mirrors with integrated turn signals, an engine immobilizer, running lights for daylight hours, a remote anti-theft alarm system, headlamps with an auto delay off function, a system that keeps tabs on your tire pressure and warns you when a tire is at low psi, a pre-collision safety system, and self-leveling headlights. You also get automatic emergency braking, a post-collision safety system, LED headlights, adaptive headlights, headlamps that are able to detect when it is dusk, and a blind-spot monitoring system.
As far as infotainment goes, you get a standard 6-speaker sound system with an auxiliary input jack and USB outlet. There is an AM/FM stereo and speed sensitive volume control. The 7-inch infotainment touchscreen display comes along with smartphone app integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Simply sync up your smartphone with the system and utilize your favorite apps.
Creature comforts are plentiful enough on the CX-3 Sport. It comes with a steering wheel that has cruise and audio controls mounted onto it for easy access. You also get keyless ignition, adaptive cruise control, a single-zone automatic climate control system, a rear-view camera, electric power steering, a tilting and telescoping steering column, an air filtration system, and dual vanity mirrors on the sun visors. The side mirrors are heated, and the power windows come with one-touch auto-up/down.
The driver's seat is 6-way manually adjustable, and the front passenger's seat is manually adjustable 4 ways. Cloth trim is standard on the front bucket seats and rear 60/40-split folding bench seat.
You are left with a few interior options. This list includes a cargo net, all-weather floor mats, a frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror with integrated HomeLink (a universal garage door opener), and an interior lighting kit. Exterior options include roof rack side rails, several metallic paint options, and wheel locks.
Which Trim is Right for Me?
Of course, we can only make one suggestion here, but we do think that the Sport is going to be a good fit for a lot of buyers. For the price, you get a ton of standard features and won't need to spend much time trying to customize your vehicle. The CX-3 Sport is straightforward and just leaves you with color options and the choice of whether you want to add AWD.
What Kind of Technology Does it Have?
Technology is pretty typical for its segment, giving you standard smartphone app integration on Mazda's 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The system's interface is well structured and gives you a series of intuitive controls. In other words, there is a very short learning curve for even non-tech-savvy folks. You won't need to worry about built-in navigation and voice controls since your smartphone will be able to handle that when synced up.
How Does It Perform?
Although you will have to go full throttle to get the CX-3 up to speed on the highway, around town, it is smooth sailing. Steering is light and easy but provides enough feedback to the driver. The tires do groan a bit while cornering though, which detracts from some of the fun you get from handling. Otherwise, for not being super-powerful, the engine and transmission serve up enough power without zapping the fuel.
Is It Safe and Reliable?
If NHTSA's full five-star rating is any indication, the CX-3 can hold up well in any type of accident. Its rollover risk is small and typical for its segment. With smart brake support and a standard blind-spot monitor, the CX-3 has enough safety features equipped to make most drivers feel secure.
What's the Interior Like?
The CX-3's interior is minimalistic but contemporary with easy-to-reach controls. The infotainment control knob is located near the shifter and is simple to use with the screen. External visibility is superb given the low hood-line and slender roof pillars. The back seat can be kind of tight for taller adults, but it has enough space for everyone else. Just don't try to put a tall passenger behind a tall front seat occupant; it will be a tight squeeze.
What are the Alternatives to this Model?
The CX-3's biggest competitors are the Honda HR-V and the Hyundai Kona. The Kona has a strong turbocharged engine that gives it a great boost of power, and for the price, you get a massive amount of standard features. The HR-V's engine is not as exciting, but it does offer a ton of cargo space and a respectable fuel economy.
Formula for Calculating Dealer Cost:
Note: All Mazda CX-3 lease prices and dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.