Interior upgrades to the Mazda CX-3 for 2019 include higher-grade materials, improved sound insulation and an electronic parking brake. (Manufacturer photo)

Interior upgrades to the Mazda CX-3 for 2019 include higher-grade materials, improved sound insulation and an electronic parking brake. (Manufacturer photo)

Mazda CX-3 subcompact SUV gets even sportier for 2019

A re-tuned engine and suspension boost the zoom-zoom factor. Electronic parking brake helps, too.

Mazda stays true to its trademark zoom-zoom mentality by making cars for people who consider driving a sport, not just a necessity. From the little MX-5 Miata roadster to the three-row CX-9 sport utility vehicle, all Mazdas have powerful performance, lively steering and dynamic handling characteristics.

The Mazda CX-3 subcompact SUV has seating for five and a modest cargo area in the back. Second row passengers best not be fully grown, because space is scarce. This is a subcompact, after all.

For 2019 the CX-3 is updated with a new grille, new taillights and new 18-inch wheels. The cabin is improved by the use of higher-grade materials, better sound insulation, and an electronic parking brake. Eliminating the previous manual parking brake freed-up space in the center console to provide more stowage for personal items.

The CX-3’s frisky 2.0-liter engine has been re-tuned for 2019 to boost horsepower to 148 and torque to 146 pound-feet. Its companion is still a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift and sport modes. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available on all models.

Other modifications have been made to the suspension, chassis and power steering to give CX-3 a smoother and sportier ride, an indication that Mazda engineers are obsessed. How else could they find any room for improvement in the previous model’s excellent dynamics?

Trim levels are the same for 2019: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. My tester was a Grand Touring model with all-wheel drive, the trim standardly-equipped with every feature available on the other two models plus more. Among the more notable: a power moonroof, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning, LED headlights and fog lights, navigation, and a sweet seven-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio.

A premium package on the tester ($710) added the desirable features of a heated steering wheel and power adjustability including lumbar support for the driver’s seat.

Another desirable feature of my CX-3 was its stunning Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint, a new offering for 2019 that makes the car look good enough to eat.

Fuel economy ratings for the CX-3 Grand Touring with AWD are 27 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined.

If you like the practicality of an SUV but don’t need a big one or even a medium one, and you insist on some sportiness in the car you drive, you might want this one.


Base price, including destination charge: $28,120

Price as driven: $29,625

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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