by Tony West, Sommer Thornton and Daryl Payne
The Mazda CX-30 emerged out of a nowhere to compete in an ever-growing segment. Now for 2021 the popular compact crossover adds a few more standard safety and convenience features to make it even more adventurous.
The 2020 Mazda CX-30 with its unique proportions – long nose, short rear deck and big wheels is a stylish CUV for young adults and professionals on the rise. LED lights shine and metallic chrome-like brushed metal trims the front, rear and sides of the CX-30, while inside, leather high-post seats, a big center stack a big shifter give the CX-30 high-class sporty appeal.
Motorsports Correspondent Daryl took the CX-30 with Premium Package and all-wheel drive for a spin on a sunny fall day and found the CX-30 to have unique appeal. Though he noticed in terms of athleticism it only talks a good game, the CUV had more character and spunk than most compact SUVs in its peripheral.
2021 CX-30 2.5 S adds more Convenience and Safety Features
The 2020 CX-30 is available with the base Select ($21k), Preferred and top-of-the-line CX-30 Premium Package with each variant offering iActiv all-wheel drive. The 2021 Mazda CX-30 adds a new 2.5 S that’s a little more athletic in character.
The 2021 CX-30 2.5 S marries sporty and soulful offering its own Select, 2.5 S Preferred and 2.5 S Premium models. What’s so amazing about the new CX-30 is that it offers as much as some high-end crossover, like leatherette seating, efficient powertrain, big 8-inch infotainment touchscreen inside, big wheels and abundant safety features starting at less than $25k.
For 2021, the CX-30 features standard infotainment like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto joining Mazda Connected Services (with three-year trial) and in-car Wi-Fi hotspot. Add-ons include Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and keyless entry. Power seats with memory, moonroof and gloss black finish front grille is included with the CX-30 with Preferred Package. While the top-of-the-line adds a 12-speaker Bose sound system, Active Driving Display, Navigation and Adaptive Front Lighting.
Fun and Highly Functional, the CX-30 Edges out Competition
The closest competitors to the CX-30 are the Hyundai Venue and Subaru Crosstrek, each having mass appeal and stylish good looks and great safety technology. But the more athletic looking, long-nosed CX-30 is sleeker inside and out. The 2021 CX-30 offers LED daytime running lights, headlights and tail lights and 16-18 inch alloy wheels. Drivers sit low in the CX-30 with long narrow heated front seats and leather wrapped shift knob and steering wheel. Bright interior lighting and lux car elements give the CX-30 a unique layout that appeals to many demographics.
Motorsports Correspondent Daryl loved the new CX-30 saying it’s cool and fun – a great 2nd car for retirees, for families with teenagers or for sports car owners who want to play it safe in the winter months. Daryl likes the low slung look but complained that the front seats were too narrow and vents too small. Plus the vents seem to never be able to blow fully on the driver. The narrowness of the front seats and the long center console and minimalist center stack gives the Mazda CX-30 a sportier appeal than its competitors. Driving the CX-30 was fun for Daryl and adventurous for Editor Sommer, who tested the whip on the open road in the southwest suburbs.
Sommer loves the design of the CX-30’s ultra-quiet interior with its sweeping perforated leather seats with contract stitching on doors and steering wheel. Gloss black is adorned throughout the cabin but the center vents protrudes too much forward wasting a lot of center stack real estate.
Powertrain and Drivetrain Perfect Blend for Secure Adventure
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 S features the familiar Skyactiv G 2.5 liter DOHC 4-cylinder fitted to a 6-speed Skyactiv-Drive Sport Mode automatic transmission with cylinder deactivation. G-Vectoring Control Plus and front-wheel drive are standard on all models and i-Activ all-wheel drive and off-road traction assist are available as add-ons. Available paddle shifters give the Mazda CX-30 a touch of athleticism.
Daryl, a sports car enthusiast doesn’t think the CX-30 is sporty at all and really disliked the drive mode selector. The CX-30 boast 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque but with stylish elements the whip looks more athletic than competitors. The drive mode selector offers standard and sport mode, but Daryl couldn’t tell the difference. For him sport mode was stiff with no real decrease in launch or increase in power. He says the car just runs louder. Daryl thinks the car looks great but overall ride quality needs improvement to accommodate bigger guys who want to push this whip all-day in comfort.
Lift-off is smooth and the CX-30 is agile and super easy to park. With all—wheel drive and traction and safety tech, the CX-30 gives owners the same level of confidence as a sports car. That excludes the choppy suspension. Daryl and Sommer both agreed the suspension has driver and passenger bouncing over bumps, railroad tracks and craters. Yet four-wheel disc brakes stop on a dime.
Sommer, a lux car lover found the versatility of the CX-30’s powertrain refreshing and the agility of its short frame thrilling. Plus she liked the expanded cargo area that allows for owners to take the CX-30 on all types of adventure with their small family. For Sommer, the Mazda CX-30 held its own with an impressive level of brawniness at high speeds, and in the high winds in Chicago with a decent coefficient drag. If driving fast and using the wiper fluid, don’t let the windows down or the liquid will blow harshly into the cabin. And turning should be way tighter for this compact SUV.
Another perk of the new Mazda CX-30 is its efficiency. The FWD CX-30 boast an impressive 28 mpg combine fuel economy (25 mph city/ 33 mpg highway.) The all-wheel drive CX-30 we reviewed has 27 mpg combined (25 mpg city/ 33 mpg highway.)
A supreme level of peace is achieved while whipping the 2021. With a soft even cruise at speeds even above 40 mph, fluid electric power assisted steering, efficient powertrain with smooth seamless launch, a tranquil stroll over paved roads and a super quiet cabin thanks to sound NVH advancements.
And thanks to high-tech safety features the robust CUV can handle many weather and road conditions with all-wheel drive.
Robust Suite of Standard Safety Technology
The 2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium offers a ton of safety features standard like typical Dynamic Stability Control System and traction control, and more advanced features like the Blind Spot Monitoring System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart Brake Support, Driver Attention Alert, Lane Keep Assist, and High Beam Control. Driver assistance features like the Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Spot Monitor work very well, jerking the CX-30 back straight in its lane and effectively warning when drivers veer out.
The Park Brake for some reason activates at times when pulling off from a parking spot and it wasn’t clear why.
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 base Select is fitted with Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go that can function up to 90 miles per hour.
Infotainment Fun but Navigation Cartoonish
The 2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium we reviewed features some great infotainment features that match well with its fresh interior. Along with HD Radio, Bluetooth, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and a rearview camera standard, the CX-30 Premium features 2 USB ports and a Bose 12 Speaker Premium Audio System all controllable from the 8-inch touchscreen and multi-function command controller. The steering wheel has controls for audio, cruise control, the Heads up Display and infotainment, but controlling it can be cumbersome because of the design. The “source” button is also the button for changing the track/volume.
Daryl disliked the navigation system with a strong passion. And Sommer couldn’t help but agree. The visuals are a bit cartoonish – not terrible. But the navigation doesn’t show many street names, traffic or construction zones, not even the city. Yet real estate on the big touchscreen is vast. The streets and the visual as a whole looks like a cartoon sketch and there should be a compass. Thus it’s not useful.
The Active Driving Display available with the Premium Package projecting pertinent driving info on the windshield.
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 is one of coolest new CUVs on the market. And with an affordable MSRP and unique attributes it easily clobbers its competition.