2016 Mazda CX-3: Small, Enjoyable Utility

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Celebrations are near and dear to our family for a myriad of reasons, one of which represents the kid’s overzealous and congenial moods for the weeks or days leading up to the special moment. In this case my two daughters – 9 and 12 years of age – were giddy over their school’s Valentine’s Day party and dance. Thankfully I was testing a vehicle that could handle the additional driving, storage, utility and fun factor needed for the tasks at hand. This would be the all-new 2016 Mazda CX-3.

My wife Misa is used to seeing me in bigger vehicles so she did get in a few laughs when I went out to warm up the compact crossover SUV in the midst of Maryland’s second snowfall of the Winter season. Though, I should have downloaded the Mazda Mobile Start App ($550) to remotely start and warm up the vehicle. However, after a few shopping runs she was just as amazed as I at the high level of technology, gadgetry and comfort in the CX-3. Shorter and lower than the CX-5, the CX-3 is small but surprisingly spacious. For example after dropping my youngest off for violin practice I decided to take a quick nap. Yep, I laid the seat back, stretched out comfortably and turned to SiriusXM’s Spa Channel for 30 minutes. From the outside it’s also rather tough looking with sporty 18” alloy spins, dual exhausts, body cladding, an elongated hood, integrated chin spoiler and LED lights. I could have sworn Mazda was playing Jedi Mind Tricks on me.

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“The 2016 CX-3 is the next evolution of our mission to meld style, driving enjoyment and efficiency into a vehicle that demonstrates drivers don’t need to compromise to get what they want,” said Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). “CX-3 was designed to deliver all of the fun and technology of our larger models but at a price in the market where it will be a draw for buyers of all backgrounds.”

Jim is on point since the CX-3 starts at $19,960. Offered in three trims — Sport, Touring and GT — and either FWD or AWD, my CX-3 Grand Touring AWD model had a MSRP of $26,240 and topped off at $29,690 with a few options including the GT i-ACTIVSENSE package which includes, Mazda Radar Cruise Control & Forward Obstruction Warning, Smart City Brake Support, Smart Brake Support, High Beam Control System, Lane Departure Warning System and Rain-Sensing Wipers.

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SKYACTIV Technology and KODO-Soul of Motion design is the basic premise of the newfangled Mazdas you have seen or will begin to see glorifying the streets. Ergonomics were perfect as we jumped in and out of the CX-3 for basketball practice and games, lacrosse private lessons, soccer skills challenges and more. The seat warmers were always appreciated and the Disney Channel rocking from the Bose 7-speaker sound system was, of course, a fan favorite. That’s right, a 3-sport athlete deserves the amenities of a 5-star car. The rear storage area is ample enough with the second row seats up, but adds dimension and versatility when you lay them flat.

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For the commander the positive drive experience continues. The interior of the GT model was as loaded as our favorite sweet potato from Mom’s Organic Market. And I’m talking about healthy loads like quinoa, chives, broccoli and flaxseeds. It began with the CX-3’s solid, multi-function steering wheel which emulates that of a premium vehicle while offering, leather, shift paddles and menu controls. Though, steering was a bit softer than I typically like. More convenience is presented in the form of keyless engine start, automatic windows, Active Driving Display, leather/Lux Suede sport seats, a moonroof and the 7” touchscreen display for the Mazda Navigation, apps, rearview camera and entertainment features. I was pretty impressed with navigation since it directs precisely and notifies you of the speed limit of major roads and highways. A user-friendly and circular rotator knob (situated between the front seats) controls all of the vehicle’s multi-media systems.

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The CX-3 is ignited by a SKYACTIV-G 2-liter engine with 146-horsepower / 146 lb.-ft. of torque and paired with the 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission with sport mode. Power is adequate but also controllable by throwing the gearshift lever to the left for manual mode or utilizing the aforementioned steering wheel paddle shifters. With AWD rotating our chunky 18” tires, Dynamic Stability Control and a Traction Control System, I felt confident at all times escorting the girls in the slushy weather. The Japanese utility also achieves 29 city and 35 highway mpg (FWD model) so it’s perfect for extended road trips.

After dropping off the kids and our new Golden Retriever Kenji for a sleepover at their friend’s house, my wife and I went out to dinner and watched NBA All-Star activities Saturday night. It was an eventful week and weekend for all. We live for these moments and special transportation from Mazda made it even more enjoyable.

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