Small crossovers are hot, and carmakers are scurrying to bring more of these fuel-saving vehicles to market. With an excellent safety record and affordable starting price, Mazda’s CX-3 presents a good value in this growing segment.

The 2018 CX-3 has been named a “Top Safety Pick” by the insurance industry, and there’s no reason to think the 2019 model won’t follow suit. For 2019, the CX-3 gets upgraded interior choices and an enhanced powertrain.

While car buyers want smaller SUVs and crossovers, they don’t want to sacrifice when it comes to the features they’ve gotten used to in their larger crossovers and SUVs.

That’s where the 2019 CX-3 delivers. Available in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring models, the CX-3 has a nice list of standard and optional amenities.

The base Sport trim has blind spot monitoring and a rear camera with rear cross-traffic alert, power windows and doors, power mirrors, pushbutton start, Bluetooth hands-free calling and a 7-inch touchscreen. Select the Sport i-ACTIVSENSE package and you get a full suite of safety technologies like Advanced Smart City Brake Support with Pedestrian Detection, radar cruise control with stop and go, lane departure warning, high beam control, automatic adaptive headlights, rain-sensing wipers and automatic climate control.

The Touring model has all the above plus upgraded wheels, advanced keyless entry, heated leatherette front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter.

My test car for the week was the top-end 2019 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring, which had an MSRP of $27,145. The cabin was very nice with full leather seats, chrome accents, LED lighting, a power moonroof, fog lights, navigation and a head’s-up display that rises from the top of the dash when the engine is started.

All 2019 CX-3 trims come with a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine hooked to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain develops 148 horsepower and delivers 146 lb.-ft. of torque to the front wheels. Mazda also offers AWD on all trims, which is a good move for consumers. It’s an extra $1,400, but well worth it for the safety benefits it offers.

With AWD included, the Sport trim is $21,790, the Touring is $23,875 and the Grand Touring is $27,145.

On the road, the CX-3 handles crisply, with excellent steering and confident braking. Hard corners produced very little body roll.

During my test week with the CX-3 I drove to Austin and put more than 1,000 miles on the car. If I had to limit my thoughts on the car to just three things, they would be these: this is a confident and comfortable vehicle, it has the best air conditioning system I’ve seen, and the fuel tank is on the small side.

I was very comfortable in the car on the long drive to Austin thanks to the heavily-bolstered 6-way power driver’s seat. The automatic air conditioning did a phenomenal job, even in temperatures that skyrocketed to 109 degrees in Texas. But even getting an EPA-estimated 32 miles per gallon on the highway, I had to stop for gas about every 350 miles. The 11.9-gallon gas tank (12.7 gallons FWD) needs to be upsized.

Visually, the car is a big winner, with a sculpted athletic design. I’ve always thought Mazda vehicles have some of the best paint jobs in the industry, and the clearcoat on my Soul Red Crystal Metallic test seemed an inch deep.

Front seat headroom is 38.4 inches, and in the back it’s 37.2 inches. Three adults can fit in row two, but it’s cramped, and they won’t want to ride back there for eight hours. Cargo room is 12.4 cubic feet with the second row up, expanding to 44.5 cubic feet if you fold the seats down.

The 2018 CX-3 got the top score of “good” in every tested category and received a score of “superior” in front crash prevention from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The 2019 model got five out of five safety stars from the government in all frontal and side crash tests. It got four stars in the rollover test.

So, the bottom line is you can load up a 2019 CX-3 with lots of features and safety equipment and still walk out of the dealership for less than $30-grand. If you’re joining the growing number of drivers looking for a small crossover with big features, put the 2019 CX-3 on your list of cars to consider.

2019 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring


2.0-liter 4-cylinder


148/146 lb.-ft.


6-speed automatic


$27,145 ($29,625 with options & freight)

EPA mileage estimates:

27 mpg city/32 mpg highway/29 mpg combined