Monday, October 3, 2022

IN THE DRIVEWAY: The 2022 Mazda CX-30

This was bound to happen. Last year, Mazda announced that their smallest crossover, the CX-3, would be no more after the 2021 model year. As sad as it was to see it go - it made sense. In 2020, Mazda came out with the CX-30, another subcompact SUV that competed right alongside the CX-3. And with the CX-30 being the more powerful, more spacious, and more luxurious of the two, the writing was on the wall to wave goodbye to the CX-3.

For 2022, the CX-30 continues, but now filling in the role as being the smallest SUV in the Mazda lineup.

The CX-30 fits right below the CX-5 and CX-50 SUVs, and in many ways looks like a taller, more rugged Mazda 3 hatchback. Which is understandable, for underneath it's sheetmetal, it is essential a Mazda3.

When the CX-30 made its debut, the only available engine was Mazda's 2.5-liter Skyactive four-cylinder rated at 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Last year, Mazda made the turbocharged version of the 2.5 (the same engine used in the CX-5, CX-50 and the larger three-row CX-9) optional. Now for 2022, all-wheel drive has become a standard feature on every CX-30.

Enter the CX-30 and you'll discover an interior that looks and feels upscale and comes standard with nearly the same number of technology features and advanced driver aids that you would find on Mazda's larger and more expensive CX-5. Most of the interior is draped in soft leather and much of the hardware on the dash and center console is done in chrome. Protruding from the dash is an 8.8-inch screen that is standard on all models. It's not a touch screen, instead you use a dial on the center console to control it, just like in other vehicles from Mazda. To the right of the dial is the volume knob, to the left the electronic parking brake.

Interior space of the CX-30 is what you would expect in a vehicle of this size – small yet cozy and comfortable. The front seats have a great feel and form to them and should be no issue on long road trips. The belt line is a little high, making you look as if you are lower than you are. The rear seats are nicely padded and offer a good seating position that's not too upright. Vents in the rear ensure backseat passengers get their share of the climate control system. Total accommodations in the CX-30 is five, but fitting 3 average-size adults in the back seat may be stretching it - two adults in the back seat is more feasible.

Cargo space in the CX-30 is decent. Behind the backseat there is 20.2 cubic feet of space. If more is needed, the second row can be folded to get 45.2 cubic feet of space. Unfortunately, the backseat doesn't lie flush with the cargo floor when folded, making it a little difficult when it comes to sliding things in and out.

Just like other Mazda’s, the real joy of the CX-30 happens when you're behind the wheel. Much like the Mazda3 hatchback, the CX-30 is nimble, athletic, and fun to drive. Its steering is crisp, and it moves with such fluid and grace, making it a pleasure to pilot on twisty roads. When simply cruising, it provides an excellent sense of stability. The turbocharged engine, which is how the tester came, provides the CX-30 with 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque which, along with its excellent handling dynamics, really makes for a fun driving little SUV. With an abundance of low-end torque, the CX-30 with the turbo engine is the quickest vehicle in its class, achieving sub-6 second 0-60 mph times and outrunning the likes of the Hyundai Kona, Kia Soul, and Subaru Crosstrek.

Choosing a CX-30 can be challenging as there are no fewer than eight trim levels to pick from. The 2.5 S, Select, Preferred, Carbon Edition (new for 2022) and Premium all come with normally aspirated 2.5-liter engine. The 2.5 Turbo, 2.5 Turbo Premium and the 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus all come with the boosted engine. All CX-30s use a six-speed automatic transmission and come with all-wheel drive.

Pricing for the 2022 Mazda CX-30 starts right at $23,725 for the base model, with the top-of-the-line Turbo Premium Plus carries a price tag of $35,925.

There are a lot of good subcompact SUVs to choose from. But if you want a subcompact SUV that is not only good, but is luxurious, athletic, engaging, and just plain fun to drive, the choice is a lot easier - the Mazda CX-30.