The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced that the 2020 Mazda CX-30 has earned its 2020 Top Safety Pick award when equipped with specific headlights. To qualify for the award, the CX-30 earned good ratings in all six IIHS crashworthiness evaluations, including the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. It also needed advanced or superior ratings for both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention, as well as an acceptable or good headlight rating. (Metro News Service photo)

Mazda CX-30 is newest member of Mazda family

Slotting itself into a crowded lineup, Japanese automaker introduces new subcompact crossover

I hate to sound like a broken record. Heck, does anyone reading this even know what a record is?

Let me try a different analogy. I hate to be redundant and repetitive. Pardon me if this sounds familiar to you. Those who’ve read my Driver’s Side column regularly through the years know I have certain things I like and certain things I dislike, generally.

This week’s tester checks off boxes on the like and dislike column for me. It’s always exciting for me to get behind the wheel of a brand-new nameplate. So getting to drive the Mazda CX-30 was something I was looking forward to. I had heard a lot of good things about this vehicle from others.

Historically, I appreciate Mazdas for being spunky and usually overperforming their output numbers. And historically I’ve been annoyed with the ever-growing subcompact “bubble” crossovers (as I call them). Initially I wasn’t sure where the CX-30 fit in the Mazda lineup as it didn’t match the rest of their vehicle naming conventions.

So, I asked my Mazda PR rep for some clarification. And this is what he said: “The car fits in between the CX-3 and the CX-5. The CX-30 is built on the new Mazda3 platform while the CX-3 is built on the older Mazda-2 platform. The CX-30 is larger in overall dimensions and offers an all-wheel option, which is perfect for our Midwest winters and in addition, it has an off-road setting.”

Obviously, the CX-30 fills some consumer need that some stuffed shirt determined was missing in the Mazda lineup. Hey, new vehicles are exciting, so who am I to question?

On looks the CX-30 fits the Mazda mold perfectly. That means it’s cute, modern and put together well. And it has a look. It’s distinctively a Mazda and that’s not a bad thing. I appreciate vehicles that have personality and the CX-30 has that aesthetically.

The CX-30 has a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 186 horsepower and 186 lbs.-ft. of torque. Unlike other Mazdas I’ve driven, which have generally overperformed their engine output numbers, the CX-30 puts the numb in those numbers. The off-the-line acceleration is uninspiring. That, combined with the six-speed automatic transmission, added up to the least inspired Mazda I’ve driven. The available all-wheel drive option was a nice redeeming quality.

Inside the CX-30 was nice and comfortable. For the price point there was a lot of value. Being a subcompact crossover means the back seat is best suited for children or shorter adults as legroom is scarce. For me, the interior was one of the best features of this vehicle, with one exception.

If you’ve read any of my reviews on previous Mazdas, you’ve noticed the same theme – the infotainment system. Mazda’s infotainment system, found in each of their vehicles, is confounding and lacks intuitive controls. Mazda will be well served to discontinue this system as soon as possible.

There are three packages that can be added to the base model CX-30: Select, Preferred and Premium. My tester was the Premium Package with a base price of $29,600. The base trim has a starting price of $21,900 ,making the CX-30 a real value buy.

Fuel economy for the AWD CX-30 is 25 mpg/city and 32 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of suburban driving I averaged a little over 27 mpg. That’s one perk for having less than inspiring acceleration is that you don’t feel the need to get heavy on the accelerator.

The CX-30 is new, and many critics have had high praise for it. I am not in that category yet, but I see the merit and understand where it fits in the Mazda lineup.

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