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2016 Mazda CX-3

Frank Washington | 2/1/2017, 10 a.m.
Mazda is retooling its entire line-up with its SKYACTIV-G technology that reduces weight and improves performance as well as fuel ...

Mazda is retooling its entire line-up with its SKYACTIV-G technology that reduces weight and improves performance as well as fuel economy. The 2016 CX-3 is the fifth Mazda equipped with the technology.

The small crossover was a five-door hatchback that seated five (read four) people that weighed less than 3,000 lbs. That is light in the automotive world. Powered by a 2.0-liter four cylinder engine that made 146 horsepower and a matching 146 pound-feet of torque, the CX-3 had a six speed automatic transmission. That was enough oomph to deal with normal driving conditions.

Fuel economy was pretty good for a gasoline powered car. The 2016 CX-3 was rated at 27 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg combine.

This car was intended for urban America. It was small with a high hip point so that the driver as well as passengers didn’t seem overwhelmed by larger vehicles.

The MacPherson strut front suspension and the torsion beam rear suspension provided a stable ride that didn’t have a lot of bounce. We think the 102-inch wheel-base, relatively long for a small car, had something to do with the CX-3’s smooth ride.

Handling was pretty good. Like a lot of carmakers, Mazda endowed the 2016 CX-3 with rack and pinion electric power steering. It didn’t provide much feedback from the road but the system responded to driver input quickly. In other words, there was not a lot of lag between turning the steering wheel and the car’s wheels actually turning.

And in what is becoming a Mazda styling trademark, the 2016 CX-3 had a long hood, short overhangs and large wheels. Mazda’s winged grille was prominent with seven fins. The turn signals were positioned outside the headlamps while the tips of the grille extended into the headlamps. It presented a flowing face for this Mazda CX-3.

The front fender peaks were pushed rearward beneath the base of the A-pillars. Thus, the side view of the CX-3 looked larger than it actually was. The peaks also gave the car a muscular yet sleek appearance.

What stood out in the interior was the red accent trim that was deftly used throughout. Though the materials used in the interior were top notch; that trim made it look luxurious – well almost. It was a nice touch.

The instrument layout in front of the driver had a racecar feel. There was a large speedometer in the middle and a smaller winged information pod on either side. The infotainment screen was atop the dashboard and the car had a mouse in the center console. The climate controls were a three-dial affair beneath the infotainment screen and of course it was pretty straight forward.

We had the Touring all-wheel drive CX-3. Normally, a front wheel-drive car, the all-wheel-drive system could sense when the wheels were going to slip, how much they were going to slip and then send the appropriate torque to the rear-wheels. This makes the 2061 Mazda CX-3 particularly appetizing to consumers in the northern climes.

The test car had a pretty extensive compliment of equipment. Its front seats were heated as were the side view mirrors. It had blind spot monitoring and a rear view camera with cross traffic alert. Of course, there was Bluetooth for hands free phone use and a navigation system. It had six-way manual adjustable driver’s seat and the tilt telescoping steering wheel was also manual.

There was a smart key and of course the car had push stop and start that usually goes along with it. The equipment sheet said the car had mobile start but it wasn’t on the key FOB. No matter, the Mazda 2016 CX-3 Touring All-Wheel-Drive was a little car with an awful lot of equipment at a reasonable price.

Our test car had a base price of $23,210. Add on the mobile start and the premium package which included a moonroof, satellite radio and tonneau cover and the sticker came to $26,050. That was pretty good pricing.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.