The 2016 Mazda CX-3 is a new age sub compact AWD crossover based on the lightweight Mazda2 hatchback. It’s designed to be frugal, tidy and fun to drive, but how will it perform off-road in the snowy Colorado Rocky Mountains?
Let’s not kid ourselves. The Mazda CX-3 is not a true off-road vehicle like the Jeep Renegade or Discovery Sport. It might look beefy and have all-wheel drive, but underneath the shiny exterior is the Mazda2 hatchback. They share the same platform, but the 6.1 inch ground clearance of the CX-3 is the same as the Mazda3 hatchback.
The all-wheel drive system is part-time, with the compact crossover defaulting to front-wheel drive whenever it can to save fuel. Cargo space is meager. Thus, carrying anything larger than children or a few bags of groceries is best left to something larger.
Our test car is powered by a 2.0-liter SkyActiv engine producing 146 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Once you get moving the engine is reasonably smooth and perky. Acceleration won’t get you anywhere fast, but there is enough grunt to keep up with traffic.
With an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 29 mpg in combined city and highway driving, the CX-3’s fuel economy matches the Honda HR-V for most frugal in the class.
Prices for the CX-3 with front-wheel drive start at $19,960. Add $1,250 for the CX-3 Sport with Mazda’s i-ACTIV all-wheel drive system that accounts for temperature, road conditions, steering angle and weather to help distribute engine power to the wheels for optimum performance and stability. Vehicle tested in this video is the top level Grand Touring trim and lists for $29,890 fully decked out with options.
In this TFL Car video, Nathan tests the spirited Mazda CX-3 on Colorado’s snow covered off-road trails.
2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring Specs:
- Engine: SKYACTIV 2.-0L 4-cylinder
- Power: 146 hp @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque: 146 lb-ft @ 2,800 rpm
- Transmission: SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed automatic
- EPA Estimated fuel economy (city/hwy/combined mpg): 27/32/29
- Curb Weight: 2,952 lbs.
- MSRP: $24,990
- i-ACTIV all-wheel drive: $1,250
- i-ACTIVSENSE safety package: $1,920
- Price as tested: $29,890