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Mazda CX-30: 2020 Resolutions Bring Change

By Sue Mead, January 18th, 2020

Do you have a plan to remake some aspect of yourself in the new year? Lose weight and eat healthier? Get more exercise or change your hairstyle? Many of us do. So, too, does Mazda.

Take a look at the new 2020 CX-30 and you'll see many things that reflect this Japanese automaker's desire to change its looks and upgrade its performance.

It borrows features and characteristics from the recently redesigned Mazda3 that heralded all-new styling and a new mantra. Gone is "Zoom Zoom," the brand's tagline of many years. It is replaced by Kodo "Soul of Motion."

What exactly does that mean? Designers had a goal of breathing life into the crossover, making it look alive even when standing still. Describing it as "car as art," it's not simply sleeker with the lines of a svelte coupe, but it's also been penned with a smattering of bold touches that cement its presence as a smallish SUV. You'll find a charming blend of clean lines along its rhythmic shoulders, sharp angles at the front and rear, and rounded taillight housings.

The new CX-30 slots between the CX-3 and CX-5 in size and comes in nine colors, including Mazda's signature Soul Red. It's priced ranging from $21,900 to $29,600, with Base, Select, Preferred, and Premium trims.

Slipping inside, I experienced Mazda's new interior ethic to make a cabin with a clean and uncluttered environment and a driver-centric cockpit. Onboard our test vehicle was a collection of uplevel features that included heated seats, 12-speaker Bose audio system, a 12-volt power outlet, and two USB ports, plus a heads-up display to keep the driver apprised of important information without looking away from the road. A My Mazda App locks and unlocks the vehicle, starts the engine, and checks the oil, in addition to other features. Interior trims include brown/brown leather with white or black seats, or an attractive blue and gray palette.

Available in front-wheel drive and AWD, the CX-30 is powered by Mazda's 2.5-liter engine that brings class-leading 186-horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque and is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. An off-road mode enhances traction to launch the vehicle, when needed, or to aid acceleration by adding maximum torque and traction assist to help mitigate wheelspin. Safety features include a number of technologies that are tuned to respect the driver and be helpful, but not take over unwanted control of the vehicle, unless necessary.

I drove the new model close to 200 miles from San Diego to Palm Springs on a ride that showcased its handling on a mix of roadways that included many tight-and-twisty sections that carved up and down the Sierra Mountains of southern California. Its zoom-zoom spirit is still at hand, with plentiful power that allows it to go out for long passes of slower-moving vehicles with alacrity and confidence.

Its steering is heavily weighted and makes the small Ute feel planted, while the suspension tuning keeps it nimble and responsive. The new model benefits from Mazda's studies into the Human Machine Interaction that have affected the positioning and comfort of the seats and headrests, as well as the braking effort and other driving dynamics.

Designed to appeal to younger buyers with active lifestyles, as well as singles, young families, and young-at-heart mature buyers, the CX-30 is sized between a subcompact and compact model, with some high hatchback utility. The five-seater has good elbow room in front, ample leg and shoulder room for two riders in the back, although a third rear-seater could be comfortable for short jaunts. But the 60/40 split/folding rear seats add increased utility for stowage.


Base price $29,600 (as tested: $30,645)
Curb weight 3,408 lbs.
Displacement 2.5-liter
Engine type Skyactiv 4-cylinder
Epa mileage rating 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 12.7 gal.
Horsepower (net) 186 at 6000 rpm
Overall length 173.0 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 186 at 4000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger AWD compact CUV
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