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2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring FWD

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Mar 14, 2016

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring FWD

Story by Doug Stokes Honestly, I’m not really sure what it really means, but I took very few notes on this little Mazda. I think it was because I was having such a great time just driving and enjoying the consistent way that this machine delivered. It was there every time that I called and for whatever the call was about. Let’s talk about how this one runs. There’s a little medallion on the back end that says: “Skyactiv®”. The name might be a little spacey, but the effects of a package that blends high compression, direct fuel injection, and variable valve timing work on this 2-liter engine is quite simply a marvel. Backed up by an excellent 6-speed automatic transmission and beautifully assisted by variable valve timing that keeps the engine on point at all times, I never found my test CX-3 to be wanting for direct performance in any traffic situation. Regular readers might remember that I’m a total nut case about horsepower and torque numbers being close. That sort of balance just makes for happier driving for me anytime, anywhere. So how does 146 horsepower and 146 foot pounds of torque sound? As offered above, it sounds like a lot of fun, even if you’re just driving to work or heading over to Trader Joe’s to pick up some freeze-dried instant coconut latte mix and a half a pound of camembert. It feels right. And then there’s that little “Sport” mode switch on the center console. Flip that one and the CX-3 turns tiger and you get the full meaning of their “Zoom-Zoom” slogan. The car stays in each gear (and there are 6 of them in this fun auto/stick transmission) right to the redline (7,000 rpm) and then up-shifts with a quick, decisive coupling that welcomes the next gear like an old friend. My road notes say: “Skyactiv® really puts the power where it does the most good.” Correct.


Crossing over the California coast

Wait a minute, isn’t this a sub-compact crossover that we’re talking about right? They’re not really supposed to be about fun driving are they? They are now. In looking over the standard features list of this particular “Grand Touring” model of the CX-3 I was reminded that a multi-episode version of “War and Peace” had been announced for television the week of our test drive. Readers will view it (the standard features list … not the novel or the TV show) immediately following this narrative. It is, in a word, very voluminous. I know … that’s two words, but scroll down and take a look at the list! If Mazda left anything off that first class roll call of very usable, very welcome features, the chances are, you don’t really need it. The CX-3’s suspension system provides a good ride and excellent handling … you know, road manners. All modern cars have them to one degree or another, the Mazda CX-3 has a smart sense the road and what feels to me like a certain eagerness for taking it on. While we’re at it, let’s issue another pat on the back for the Mazda engineers who really have the handle on feel and feedback in their version of electronic steering. Part of the real joy of a car (at least for me) is “listening” to the car through the steering wheel. (You will either get that, or think “This guy has smoked too many tires.”). Hey, fun is where one finds it, why drive a car that doesn’t at least make you giggle a little every once in a while.


The view from within

Ok, gotta remember that this one is a (small) 5-door longback (my word) and that one should expect a pretty good amount of stowage room, and that’s not much of a problem here, four friends and a week’s worth of luggage for all will work just fine in this compact. And the styling … sharp, nicely defined as (as I would call it :) a “right over the wheels and ready to go” look that’s quite properly gape-mouthed … as is the current fashion. And it all works as nicely as the engine and the handling do. You might interpret what I’m trying to say is that this is a well-balanced offering start to finish … you’ be quite right in this case. There was one item on the sticker that I had to look up (because I did not partake of it during my week with this Mazda) and that was “Mazda Mobile Start” (priced at $550 on the add-on list). I’ll tastefully skip any allusions remote start systems being in use for self-defense for many years in certain occupations and quote the company on their version: “… the only Smartphone Remote Engine Start system engineered and designed specifically for your Mazda. Use Mazda Mobile Start to: Start or unlock your Mazda, Activate your climate control system, Activate the Panic Alarm, Find your parked car from virtually anywhere, and Order a large Pizza Bianca delivered to wherever you’re parked at the time.” Ok, I made that last one up, but you get the idea. The other add-on to the $24,900.00 base price was $1920.00 for the “GT I Activesense Package” which included a suite of pro-active safety system/devices that not only had lane departure warning and variable rain-sensing windshield wipers, but high-beam control and headlight (auto) off-on. Not to denigrate any of these new age driving aids, but in my own 2002 car all of those functions (and more!) are controlled by the driver, giving him (that’s me) a heightened sense of being directly involved in the safe operation of the vehicle.


Three-pointed star-like detail

Interestingly enough, one of the standard features on this model of the CX-3 is one of the new safety items that I really can get fully “behind”. And that’s the blind spot monitoring device. I’m not ready to fully risk the side of my car (or much worse) to them, but they are helpful. Again my personal car is not so-equipped so I still check when I see the “CLOSE … ON THE RIGHT” (it doesn’t really say that) light in the side mirror. Our friendly friends over at EPA/DOT tell us that proud owners of new CX-3 front wheel drive models should be expecting fuel usage in the range of 29 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the open highway. Your own average will vary base on a whole bunch of factors, including how much fun it is to “floor” this seemingly sedate 5-door soccer-transport and zoom away in traffic like a much zoomier-looking machine. Being the top-flight automotive journalist that we are (am?), we simply can’t let this review go to print without a major complaint, can we? Ok then, here ‘tis: The spec sheet calls the interior color “parchment”, now I think of “parchment” as a sort of a regal off-white almost beige tone, but somebody at the factory (or writing the ad copy) obviously has a different eye for color than this writer. The car that I dove had a rather jarring two-tone black and white interior that was more golf shoe than Magna Carta tan. That’s it, the only thing that I would wish different on this one. The seat themselves were comfortable and supportive; if they were but one (overall) shade (and not the bright white of the two-tone please) there would have been nothing to grouse about at all. Darn. Mazda has a reputation for making very effective vehicles, they’ve added well to that standing with this full boat, friendly-elegant and quite relevant 2016 CX-3. – DS For more information about Mazda products, go to


SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring FWD Price: $24,900 - base $28,340 - as tested with Halogen headlights Variable-intermittent windshield wipers Air conditioning with pollen filter Power windows with driver's one-touch down/up feature Power door locks with keyless remote entry 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback 7.0" full-color touch-screen display Advanced front air bags, front side-impact air bags and side-impact air curtains‡ Rearview camera†† Bluetooth® hands-free phone and audio capability Mazda advanced keyless entry system Dual body-colored power side mirrors with integrated turn signal lamps Driver and passenger heated mirrors Driver and passenger heated seats Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) System* Rear Cross Traffic Alert Front armrest Overhead console with sunglass holder Leatherette-trimmed seats Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob Power sliding-glass moonroof Steering wheel paddle shifters Automatic Climate Control Leather-trimmed seats Active driving display Navigation Bose® 7-speaker audio sound system HD Radio SiriusXM Satellite Radio with 4-month trial subscription LED headlights with auto leveling Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) LED combination taillights LED daytime running lights LED fog lights Tonneau cover EPA fuel economy rating (miles per gallon): 29 cith/35 highway/31 combined Engine: 146-hp, SKYACTIV-G 2.0L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing Transmission: SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed automatic Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Suspension: Independent front with stabilizer bar and torsion beam rear Brakes: Four-wheel disc with ABS Wheels and tires: 16-inch alloy wheels with P215/60 R18 all-season tires and tire pressure monitoring system

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