January 8 , 2016 /

Mazda CX-3

Overall: NEW_for_2016_3Mazda’s junior wagon pushes all the right style buttons and looks every inch the brand’s practical and sporty image builder.

Drivetrain: A spunky and thrifty four-cylinder engine is mated to a six-speed automatic (no manual gearboxes here).

Small boxes that offer all-wheel-drive are being direct toward singles, young couples and empty nesters alike, and for the same reasons. They’re relatively inexpensive, a breeze to maneuver in congested urban and extra-urban environs, can navigate poor weather/ roads and can carry more gear than similarly sized small sedans or hatchbacks. And don’t forget they can be nattily attired in fancy accoutrements plus the latest in crash-mitigating safety technologies. As a companion to the CX-5 small wagon, the CX-3 is about 10 inches shorter, three-inches narrower and has five inches less distance between the front and rear wheels. It’s also at least 400 pounds more svelte than the 3,200-pound base CX-5. The CX-3’s cabin purposely exudes an MX-5 (Miata) sports-car-like feel that’s interrupted only by a pop-up-style touch-screen display. The straightforward control-panel layout includes a trio of oversized knobs and a dashboard gauge pod flanked by twin info screens. There’s not an excess of leg or headroom in back for adult-sized passengers, although the doors are at least wide enough for easy entry and exit. For storage, the CX-3 is about as spacious as most of its peers, whether the split-fold back seat is upright or flattened. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. It’s uncommon for a non-turbocharged powerplant to produce that much twisting force, relative to horsepower, but Mazda’s high-piston-compression “SkyActiv” design makes this possible. The sole available transmission is a six-speed automatic with optional paddle shifters. The on-demand all-wheel-drive system that’s available in all trim levels is linked to the vehicle’s anti-lock brakes, stability control and on-board ambient thermometer. It’s designed to “predict” front-wheel slippage and divert power to the rear wheels. Note that due to the space needed for the rear differential, AWD models lose some of their stowage capacity.

Base price (incl. destination): $20,800
Type: Four-door sub-compact wagon
Base engine (hp): 2.0-liter DOHC I4 (146)
Layout: Front-engine, front- /all-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Six-speed automatic
MPG (city/highway): 27/32 (FWD)
Weight (lb.): 2,800

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