Striking driving dynamics
Smaller inside than some
More efficient 4-cylinder
A seriously affordable path to all-wheel drive, the 2023 Mazda CX-30 delivers an upscale interior and compelling driving dynamics. Pricing starts at $22,950.
anchors its stable of crossovers with the subcompact CX-30. Yes, it’s small, but it’s about average size among rivals like the Kia Seltos
Chevy Trailblazer, and the somewhat bigger Honda HR-V
It’s roughly the same price, too. However, the CX-30 comes standard with all-wheel drive (AWD). We like it for its well-crafted cabin and fuel-stingy 4-cylinder engines.
2023 Mazda CX-30 pricing
The 2023 Mazda CX-30
The 2023 Mazda CX-30 starts at $22,950 for the base 2.5 S trim. For such a small vehicle, the CX-30 offers a lot of trim levels — seven, to be precise. We think the 2.5 S Select trim is the best value. Providing a load of standard features, it still prices out around $25,000. However, more of you prefer the best-selling 2.5 S Premium grade.
With a wide range of trims available, they’re worth comparing side-by-side for the discerning SUV shopper.
The listed competitors all price out within $1,500 or so of one another, with the pricier HR-V ($23,650) at the top end and the CX-30 at the bottom. If you have your heart set on a Mazda but want something a little bigger, the AWD CX-5 should do the trick at $26,700.
2023 Mazda CX-30
CX-30 2.5 S
CX-30 2.5 S Select
CX-30 2.5 S Preferred
CX-30 2.5 S Carbon Edition
CX-30 2.5 S Premium
CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium
CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus
These are the manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRP) and don’t include the $1,275 factory-to-dealer delivery fee.
Before buying a CX-30, check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to know what you should really pay. The CX-30’s resale value is about typical for smaller SUVs. Of our listed competitors, the HR-V tends to retain its value the best, but not by much.
Mazda adds a little more zip to the CX-30’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, as well as squeezes out a little more fuel economy, making it more efficient overall. We give a big nod to Mazda for continuing to tinker with what was already a well-rounded engine. Otherwise, there’s not much happening with this diminutive crossover in the middle of its current generational lifecycle.
Driving the 2023 Mazda CX-30
Small crossovers aren’t the first, second, or even third choice for people who really like driving. Unless it’s a Mazda CX-30.
The same flow, feel, fun, and fleetness that comes in other Mazda vehicles are all here in the CX-30. We believe anything better than this probably has a BMW
badge and a price to match. The steering is outrageously responsive, and the suspension is tuned like a Stradivarius. We’re convinced that Mazda had Tennessee’s twisting Tail of the Dragon road in mind when it engineered this spirited little crossover.
It’s not a niche vehicle, however. The 2023 CX-30 is easy to drive and live with, capable of handling all the usual everyday duties with a comfortable efficiency. If we had to think of a gripe, we would have preferred it if Mazda offered rear parking sensors in a few other trims, not just the top version.
Many mainstream manufacturers are upping their interior design game, making their cabins look good enough for a premium marque. Mazda has long been ahead of this particular curve and consolidated its position with the CX-30.
High-quality materials are arranged expertly into a simple yet pleasing layout, topped off with an 8.8-inch infotainment display that’s among the largest in this class. In the top Premium Plus trim, the interior quality rivals some luxury SUVs, and the S Carbon Edition comes with unique red leather seats.
This is smaller than a compact crossover like the Mazda CX-5 or Honda CR-V, so space is naturally not so plentiful. But adults will enjoy plenty of room up front, and 36.3 inches of rear legroom is about average, although the Kia Seltos and Honda HR-V have more.
Where the CX-30 does dip a bit below average is in its cargo capacity. The Seltos, HR-V, and Trailblazer all have measurably more luggage space with the rear seat folded or in place.
Striking and familiar design
We like that the CX-30 follows the same exterior design approach as the rest of the company’s SUVs/crossovers. That’s fine by us. When a core design works this well, why change the classy lines, sleek surfaces, and elegant proportions just for the sake of it?
Replacing the 16-inch wheels on the 2.5 S for 18-inch ones is another reason we suggest moving up to the 2.5 S Select.
Our favorite features and tech
ErgonomicsThis relates to the way all the controls connect with the driver, along with things like seats designed to optimize correct posture and combat fatigue. Mazda has clearly put some of its finest minds to work in this area. There are details like how the navigation information is located, or an amber light indicating when the wipers are in their Auto setting. Yet they all merge into a general feeling of things being just right.
Driving dynamicsThis is the CX-30’s superpower, what makes it different from the ho-hum competition. It’s responsive and enjoyable, especially when the turbo engine is in residence. The fun is accessible, yet the CX-30 remains a sensible crossover.
All-wheel driveEvery CX-30 comes with AWD. A transparent system, it can move engine torque from axle to axle and wheel to wheel, optimizing traction and power delivery.
Bundle of driver aidsEvery CX-30 comes with a suite of safety and driver-aid technologies like automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keep assist.
Rain-sensing wipersStandard across the board, this system senses moisture on the windshield and automatically engages the wipers. The wiper speed adjusts according to the volume of the rain.
Proximity Keyless EntryOne of our must-have features, this is on the Select and all upper trims. The doors automatically unlock if the key fob is on your person. Push-button start is standard on all trim levels.
Engine and transmission
What makes most 2023 Mazda CX-30 models — those with 2.5 S in their name — go is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. It makes 191 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque fed to all the wheels by a 6-speed automatic transmission. These performance numbers are significantly more than for the base Seltos, HR-V, or Trailblazer. For example, the Trailblazer’s 3-cylinder engine delivers 137 horsepower.
In our time with the 2.5 S four-banger, we found it more than sufficient to get the CX-30 not just moving, but moving with enough gusto to make things fun. However, there are those of us who always demand more, right?
To fill that need, Mazda also provides a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter engine. It populates the two CX-30 models with “Turbo” replacing the “S” in their nameplates. It generates 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque with premium gasoline. If you save a few pennies per gallon at the pump by using regular fuel, the performance numbers drop to 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. This still makes for a wild ride in the small CX-30.
2.5-liter 4-cylinder (2.5 S)191 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm186 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpmFuel economy: 29 mpg (26 city, 33 highway)
2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (2.5 Turbo)250/227 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm (93/87 octane)320/310 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm (93/87 octane)Fuel economy: 25 mpg (22 city, 30 highway)
More CX-30 fuel-economy information is available on the EPA’s website.
Great safety ratings
The Mazda CX-30 earns the IIHS Top Safety Pick award because of its perfect ratings in every crashworthiness category.
Be sure to read: How to test drive a car: Your complete checklist
The 2023 Mazda CX-30 is protected by the automaker’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, plus 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage. For the duration of the basic warranty, Mazda also provides 24/7 roadside assistance. This bundle of warranty protection is most common among CX-30 rivals; however, Kia and Hyundai provide significantly longer coverage.
KBB’s car review methodology.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.