Something is afoot at Mazda. After two decades of single-digit CUV names (CX-3, CX-5), Mazda has introduced the CX-30. One would assume that it replaces the CX-3 but that’s not the case. The CX-3 is still available right alongside it, both as 2021 models. But the CX-30 is an all new model and a nice one at that. When Mazda asked us to try out the CX-30, we eagerly went along with it. They’ve made some great improvements in their interiors over the last several years and while they don’t quite handle like an MX-5, they’re still more fun to drive than the average SUV/CUV.

The exterior is handsome. Ours came in what Mazda calls Polygray Metallic. It’s an interesting gray that really let’s the curvaceous sheetmetal shine. We liked it. The CX-30 has a long hood and the cabin appears set back on the chassis. It looks like a pointy rocket ship on wheels. The result is a rather sporty looking CUV.

Inside, the leather of the Premium version brings a warmth to it that relaxes the soul a bit and makes you happy to be there. Ours had a blend of cream-colored leather, black plastic, and brown leather that wrapped from the doors across the dash and down the center console. Bright aluminum accent trim pulls everything together and makes for a comfortable interior. The seats are comfortable with light bolstering and are heated. The switchgear and controls are all easy to find and use and the infotainment system, while basic, works well.

There’s plenty of room in the front seats. The rear seats have less legroom and it feels tighter back there – probably okay for kids but getting adults back there without moving the front seats forward would be tough. There’s plenty of room behind the rear seats for groceries and other gear.

The engine is a 2.5L naturally-aspirated four-cylinder that makes 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque being distributed through a six-speed automatic to either the front wheels or all four wheels, as the system senses it’s needs. It’s not quick off the line but it makes most of it’s power in the mid-range of it’s power band, which is perfect for passing and freeway traveling. It’s agile suspension helps it cut through traffic, making it a decently fun little CUV to drive. If we could have wanted one improvement, it’d have been more power. Lo and behold, the next trim level up is the 2.5L Turbo model, which makes 250 hp. That’d be the one we got if we were buying one. That extra 70 hp would have made all the difference in the world.

As we noted above, the suspension is sufficiently capable of letting it dart through traffic and handle corners with the grace of a small car. The brakes are 11.6” in front and 11.9” in the back. The single piston calipers do a great job of slowing the car down when you need to and they work intuitively. Steering is also intuitive and the turning radius is small.

Mazda says the CX-30 AWD Premium gets about 24 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. We were close to that although we were constantly on the throttle trying to make it go so our mileage suffered. That’s the downside of a decent suspension but an anemic motor.

Our car stickered at about $31,000. A fair price for what it was, though I’d have ponied up for the turbo model because speed. Quite a nice little entry-level CUV.

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