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Sporty 2021 Mazda CX-30 bridges gap between car and SUV Featured

Posted On Monday, 12 April 2021 01:25 Written by
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The 2021 Mazda CX-30 is only a second-year model, but has potential to draw some serious attention in the compact crossover segment due to its responsive driving characteristics. The 2021 Mazda CX-30 is only a second-year model, but has potential to draw some serious attention in the compact crossover segment due to its responsive driving characteristics. Photo courtesy of Mazda

Before we start, the question must be asked: What exactly is the Mazda CX-30 and why did Mazda add it to their lineup of crossovers in 2020?

Do not confuse it with Mazda’s CX-3, which is a different crossover offering from the automaker. The CX-30 is longer and more powerful than the CX-3, and it is ultimately a slightly raised version of the Mazda3 sedan/hatchback offering. On the grand scale of Mazda offerings, the CX-30 falls squarely between the smaller CX-3 and the larger CX-5.

While it may seem like overkill, automakers know that SUV buyers can be very particular, so having an option at every possible size offering is becoming the norm. (Though the naming of this model does admittedly create some confusion).

The CX-30, a very stylish vehicle, is one of those modern rides threading the needle between a car and an SUV, and hoping to provide you with the raised SUV look and versatility but smoother driving of a sedan. To entice buyers for the 2021 model, the CX-30 upgrades in its sophomore year include a new turbocharged engine option, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.

Like the entire Mazda lineup, the exterior design of the 2021 CX-30 is a contender for best in class, and the interior is even more impressive.

Using a Mazda design language that straddles the line between SUV boldness and an attractive carlike design, you’ll be drawn to the unique design of the CX-30. The CX-30 features LED headlights, taillights and running lights, plus 18-inch alloy wheels.

Its interior is very clean, high-end and well-designed, moreso than you would expert for the price range. No other non-luxury automaker has Mazda beat in interior design.

This is a compact crossover, and while bigger than the CX-3, it’s still pretty tight for both legroom and headroom, especially in the back seat. Keep this in mind when planning to transport any passengers. There are 60/40 fold-down rear seats to help boost storage/cargo capacity.

There is a rear armrest with cupholders, and inside upscale touches include a leather shift knob, leather steering wheel and leatherette seats. There’s also an option for a very nice sliding-glass moonroof. Updating to a Premium Package brings leather seating, roof rails, 12-speaker Bose premium audio, and a host of other features.


Two engines are offered on the 2021 CX-30, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission (and optional paddle shifters).

Standard engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder option with 186 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque. But you can upgrade (for a significant price hike) to a turbo option that offers up to 250 horses and 310 lb.-ft.

I drove the standard engine, but it was still a tremendous experience compared to other offerings in the segment. You can tell Mazda designs their vehicles with driving enthusiasts in mind, as no other crossover will offer quite this level of enjoyment.

Handling is excellent, power is strong both from a stop and while you’re already moving, and you zip around freely with little resistance. It’s a car you’ll be happy to drive every day.

The 0-to-60 time is just over 7 seconds, and will be even more impressive with the turbo engine.

Dynamic Stability Control and a Traction Control System are included on the CX-30. Front wheel drive is standard, and All wheel drive is optional. My test vehicle had the AWD system, and it got around very well in snow storm conditions.


The 2021 CX-30 comes with a good complement of tech and safety features.

Let’s first look at the Mazda Connect infotainment system. In my experience, the voice commands worked very well on the infotainment system. Physical controls are decent and easy to learn, but at times take more steps than they should to complete.

Other tech highlights include a windshield-projected Active Driving Display, and the optional Bose 12-speaker premium audio system, which sounds very crisp and powerful and will please music lovers. Three months of satellite radio are included at no cost, then fees apply.

The full-color center screen is 8.8 inches, a decent size, and the vehicle offers Bluetooth for streaming phone calls and audio, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility for phone mirroring.

Moving on to safety, the CX-30 has almost a perfect score on government safety tests; 5 stars overall and 5 stars on all individual categories, except for one four-star rating. That’s about as good as it gets, and provides peace of mind as you drive with your family.

Many advanced vehicle safety features come standard on the CX-30.

Helpful systems include: Driver Attention Alert, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning with Lane-Keep Assist, Smart Brake Support and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.

There is also an anti-theft engine immobilizer and a bevy of air bags throughout the vehicle.

Those who opt for Mazda’s Navigation system will get a reliable system that does the job efficiently and never leads you astray.


Fuel mileage on the various models of the CX-30 range can reach up to 25 City/33 Highway/28 Combined mpg. In my experience, I averaged 25.6 miles per gallon. While not the best in class for fuel consumption rates when compared to the multitude of available compact crossovers, Mazda drivers typically buy with a focus on the driving experience, so I don’t think this will change many minds.

The difference in numbers is not big enough to be a deciding factor.


The 2021 Mazda CX-30 I tested was priced just under $32K; Base price starts about $22K. Starting price depends on trim level; ranging from $22K to $34K. These are reasonable prices for the segment, especially on the lower end. If you opt for the turbo engine, your starting price is about $30K.

It comes with 60 month/60K mile powertrain and 36 month/36K mile bumper-to-bumper warranties.


Slotting in between the subcompact CX-3 and the midsize CX-5, Mazda’s CX-30 is one of best compact SUVS available today. It offers the best driving experience in the segment, strong tech features and quality design and craftsmanship inside and out. 

This second-year model has put all the competition on notice in a crowded crossover segment.


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Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2021 Mazda CX-30  
  • Price as tested: $31,700 (starts around $22K)  
  • Best feature: Pure driving experience, luxury-level interior   
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Compact SUV buyers who want a powerful, tech-savvy ride  
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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