Automobile sizes are incredibly relative from country to country, or at least from continent to continent. When I was in Germany recently, around the holidays, I was reminded of just how compact some “family cars” are. What we consider small works for a family of four, or even five, overseas. The Mazda CX-30 was built as a family vehicle in Europe and Japan, but is targeted at single or newly married folks here in the U.S. I spent a week with this CX-30 2.5Turbo Premium recently and had some thoughts about how feasible it would be as a family-mobile.
2022 Mazda CX-30 Overview
First, let’s delve quickly into the CX-30 lineup. Since it’s already 2023, the Mazda website is updated for the new model year, but you get the drift. For 2023, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder gets a 5 horsepower (and 2 mpg) bump, plus some safety feature upgrades, but what you see below is pretty close to the 2022 we tested.
Your core decision-making with regard to a buying a new CX-30 is deciding which engine you want, and it’s pretty simple – boost or no boost. The base 2.5L four-cylinder engine has a respectable 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, while the turbo 2.5L gets an impressive 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Or, if you want to pay a bit more at the pump, it’s rated at 250 hp and 320 lb-ft with 93 octane fuel. All 2022 CX-30s come with a six-speed auto and standard AWD.
The base S is pretty well-equipped, and as you would surmise the Select, Preferred, and Premium ratchet up the features. The Carbon Edition is one of those wheel and trim packages if you are looking for that type of thing and, interestingly, only comes with the naturally aspirated engine. Meanwhile, the Turbo model only comes in Premium and Premium Plus, the latter of which is like the Premium, but…more.
We got a pretty loaded 2.5 Turbo Premium in Snowflake White Pearl, which is a $395 option. Other than a $125 bumper guard, that’s the only bits that Mazda added. All in you’re at just over $36,100. Let’s get into the meat of the review!
2022 Mazda CX-30 Inside & Out
The CX-30, like most Mazda cars and SUVs has a very slick exterior design. The front end of the CX-30 looks sleek and purposeful and while it’s got a large grille, compared to the size of the vehicle, I dig it. Everyone is doing big grilles, I get it, but Mazda uses a sort of black-chrome look surrounded by actual chrome for a nice look. The intersection of lines just below the hood (as shown in the middle pic above) creates a gap and has always struck me as a bit odd, but it’s one of the few views of the CX-30 that I didn’t like.
At 173 inches in length, the CX-30 is a bit longer than competitors like the Kia Seltos and Honda HR-V, but it’s still easy to park for city dwellers. Like a lot of crossovers, the rear slopes down to try and deliver a more coupe-like profile. Which, like a lot of crossovers, means that there could have been a bit more cargo space if they had gone with a more boxy rear design. Still, the CX-30 is a good looking small crossover and would look good in a variety of situations, from the school pick-up line to a valet stand.
On the inside, the CX-30 has a refreshingly clean interior. I don’t mean cleanliness, you can see every dust particle on the piano black material, but instead from a design perspective. A sweeping dashboard line holds a simple set of HVAC controls. Buttons for the radio and other settings are down below the shifter and there is an actual volume knob. Getting used to its location took a bit of time, when “Don’t Stop Believin” came on Spotify, I excitedly reached up to the top of the dash to turn it up, only to realize it was down to the right. It’s in a fairly usable place if you think about it, since you don’t have to reach for it, and I’m sure owners who drive their CX-30 every day don’t have any issues.
However, the lack of a touchscreen was more than a little infuriating. The rotary control dial spins easily, and you can depress it quickly to choose your thing. Still, there are times where reaching up and hitting a button makes more sense, and I hope Mazda transitions to a touchscreen soon to keep up with the rest of the world.
So, the CX-30 is longer than some of its key competition, but oddly enough cargo space isn’t superior. With just 20.2 cu. ft. of space behind the 2nd row, it is significantly down compared to the HR-V (24.3 cu. ft.) and Seltos (26.6 cu. ft.), though it does best the Toyota C-HR (19.1 cu. ft.). Day to day, it’ll still do the trick for grocery runs and such. There were some small annoyances, for example the back doors don’t unlock when the driver gets out and the car is running, meaning my youngest couldn’t get out until I hit the unlock button. There may be a setting buried in the menu system somewhere to fix that however.
2022 CX-30 On The Road
Out on the highway, the CX-30 is seriously quick. Some of the mags have tested it around 6.4 seconds to 60mph which means it’s at the top of the subcompact crossover class and quicker than my 2001 Prelude was back in the day. It has a very good sport mode, it gives the CX-30 a little more of a sense of urgency without feeling like it’s over revving for no reason all the time. Having a fun to drive crossover is a nice change, most are very much tuned for comfort and economy.
Speaking of economy, the CX-30 Turbo gets an EPA estimated 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway which is only slightly lower than that of the non-turbo 2.5L CX-30 (24 city/31 highway). So, you can go faster without paying more in petrol, though if you want to unlock the full 250 hp, you’ll need to go for the high test stuff. #worthit
I regularly get asked to help people pick their next new car, and I do it enthusiastically. Often I’ll go with a Mazda crossover, they offer a great mix of style, performance, and practicality. The CX-30 is larger than the average compact SUV you see in Europe, but it’s still smaller than a lot of what we have here. It’s got a great powertrain, and is still a reasonably priced, and practical, from a size perspective. For those reasons, the CX-30 will definitely stay on my list of recommended small crossovers.
If you are looking for a used CX-30, check out Eric’s review of the 2020 CX-30!