The 2020 Mazda CX-30 has front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive available on all models for an extra $1,400. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2020 Mazda CX-30 has front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive available on all models for an extra $1,400. (Manufacturer photo)

2020 CX-30 subcompact SUV is true to Mazda form: fun driving

Handling characteristics of this all-new model are devised for recreation as well as transportation.

The Mazda CX-30 subcompact SUV is an all-new arrival for 2020, shoehorned between the company’s CX-3 and CX-5 models. It’s a bit roomier than the CX-3, and less roomy but more affordable than the CX-5.

The CX-30 has hard-to-resist design, inside and out. Its refined interior seems to have taken a page from a luxury brand’s playbook.

There are five seatbelts inside the small CX-30, but due to lateral space constraints the rear seat should not be asked to hold more than two people. With that proviso, the back seat isn’t a bad place to be, which can’t be said about most subcompacts. Leg room is made generous by a lot of clearance underneath the front seats, and rear seatbacks have built-in lumbar support, something else not found in most subcompacts.

The power-adjustable driver’s seat raises and lowers in impressive distances, so drivers outside average heights in either direction should find themselves accommodated nicely in the CX-30.

The 2020 Mazda CX-30’s infotainment system has an 8.8-inch display, recessed in the center dash. The Premium interior is shown here. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2020 Mazda CX-30’s infotainment system has an 8.8-inch display, recessed in the center dash. The Premium interior is shown here. (Manufacturer photo)

At the back, a cargo area with liftgate access provides 20.2 cubic feet of space if rear seats are in upright position, and 45.2 cubic feet when folded.

The front-wheel-drive 2020 Mazda CX-30 is available in three trim levels: Base ($22,945), Select ($24,945), Preferred ($27,245), and Premium ($29,245). These prices include a $1,045 destination charge. Every model is available with all-wheel drive for an extra $1,400.

Note: All 2020 Mazda CX-30 vehicles released from port after Feb. 3, 2020, will have a $1,100 destination charge.

True to Mazda form, the CX-30 has handling characteristics devised for those who enjoy driving as recreation, not just transportation. It felt at home on Snohomish County’s winding backroads, but the CX-30 performs properly on highways too, maintaining equilibrium and keeping the cabin hushed.

All models get their power from a spunky 2.5-liter four cylinder engine producing 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, partnered with a six-speed automatic transmission. The fuel economy rating for front-drive versions is 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive the numbers are 24/31/26 mpg.

Standard features on the Base model include LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, radar cruise control, cloth seats, remote keyless illuminated entry, eight-speaker audio system, and the Mazda Connect infotainment collective with an 8.8-inch display, HD radio, voice command, Pandora radio integration, SMS text message audio delivery and reply, and two USB ports. Driver assistance features include lane departure warning and lane keeping.

The Mazda Connect system’s display is positioned unobtrusively in the center dash, somewhat sunken rather than the common in-your-face style. And it doesn’t have touchscreen operation. A large dial in the center console does most of the control work. When I first set foot inside the CX-30 and started fiddling with the system, it seemed nonintuitive and I expected to resent the car all week. But after discovering a couple of critical maneuvers, things made sense and the CX-30 redeemed itself.

Power for the 2020 Mazda CX-30 subcompact SUV comes from a 186-horsepower four cylinder engine. (Manufacturer photo)

Power for the 2020 Mazda CX-30 subcompact SUV comes from a 186-horsepower four cylinder engine. (Manufacturer photo)

2020 MAZDA CX-30 PREMIUM AWD

Base price, including destination charge: $30,645

Price as driven: $31,670

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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