What do our experts think of the 2021 Mazda CX-3? We look at powertrain, interior options, trim levels and more. Find out our thoughts here.

What’s New for the 2021 Mazda CX-3?

Even though the 2021 Mazda CX-3 is being discontinued after this model year, the automaker has taken care to add a handful of new features like headlights that now automatically illuminate 20 minutes earlier in the morning and pedestrian detection at night for the Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) system. Even though we chose the CX-3 over the HR-V in this comparison, competition is fierce in the tiny SUV segment as you can read about on this this list of 7 Best Subcompact Crossovers. As a result, the CX-3 has been axed in favor of Mazda’s slightly larger CX-30.

2021 Mazda CX-3 - news.mazdausa.com

2021 Mazda CX-3 – news.mazdausa.com |  Shop 2021 Mazda CX-3 on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $21,815





Fuel Economy

29 City / 34 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats


Seats 5

The Breakdown

Spunky good looks

Adaptive headlights

Solid fuel economy

Tiny cargo area

Weak motor

It’s being discontinued

Get one while you can

2021 CX-3 Specs

Trims & Pricing

Sport - $21,815

2021 Mazda CX-3 Powertrain

2021 Mazda CX-3 2.0L I4 - carsforsale.com
2021 Mazda CX-3 2.0L I4 - carsforsale.com

The 2021 Mazda CX-3 is fitted with the Japanese automakers’ Skyactiv-G DOHC 2.0L four-cylinder, a naturally aspirated engine that pairs with a 6-speed automatic transmission to spin the front wheels. Making 148 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque, it is not going to set any track records but this little fella isn’t made for that. Throughout their marketing literature, Mazda regularly references the urban life with statements like “…CX-3 is ready for the city.” In that context, it’s a perfect local runabout that will slot into narrow spaces with ease.

Of course, it is a Mazda, so you can expect reasonable verve when navigating busy city streets. The better to dodge double parked trucks my dear. As the company notes, “For those looking to venture beyond the city”, Mazda’s Predictive i-Activ AWD system can be fitted. The SUV comes with traction and stability control already, so the addition of AWD is really for boosting grip in slick conditions whilst loose in the great wide open.

2021 Mazda CX-3 Fuel Economy & MPG

2021 Mazda CX-3 - news.mazdausa.com
2021 Mazda CX-3 - news.mazdausa.com

Though light on power, the 2.0L motor is big on fuel economy with EPA estimates of 29 mpg around town and 34 on the highway. That makes the CX-3 five miles per gallon more efficient in the city that a Jeep Renegade, another small SUV you can check out here. When fitted with AWD, efficiency figures drop to 27 mpg in city driving and 32 on the open road. Fortunately, the CX-3 runs on regular, which is good news in these times of bonkers gasoline prices.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

A little SUV, the two-row 2021 CX-3 nonetheless fares well against the competition when it comes to cargo space. With the rear seat raised, it’ll hold 18 cubic feet of stuff and when you fold that row flat, max volume bumps to 43 cubes. A Buick Encore is rated for a maximum cargo volume of 48 cubic feet, but a Hyundai Venue tops out at 32 cubes. You can read a comparison between these two compact SUVs here.

Though rated for five passengers, the CX-3 back seat would be tight with three adults splitting just 49 inches of hip room and 35 inches of legroom. Aesthetically, the cabin is an elegant, if simple, affair with black fabric, clean lines and splashes of bright work throughout the space. Creature comforts like automatic climate control keep temperatures pleasant but don’t expect any sort of noise cancelling tech on a vehicle in this price bracket.

Entertainment & Technology

2021 Mazda CX-3 - carsforsale.com
2021 Mazda CX-3 - carsforsale.com

Every 2021 Mazda CX-3 features a 7-inch touchscreen sprouting from the dash with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Redundant controls on the steering wheel and console knob mean you don’t have to stretch to reach the far corner of the display. Though a new Hyundai Kona boasts an 8-inch or 10-inch infotainment screen, which you can read about in this comparison with the Subaru Crosstrek, the Mazda comes with a standard head-up display that projects vehicle information on the windshield. Other niceties include Pandora and Stitcher internet radio integration, Bluetooth connectivity and dual USB ports.

Safety Features

Mazda goes big on the active safety front, fitting the CX-3 with AEB, radar cruise control with stop-and-go, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, and automatic high beam control. This focus on safety extends to passive measures like a panic alarm, six airbags, automatic 911 notification in an emergency, and electronic brakeforce distribution. All of which helps this SUV earn a 5-Star rating from NHTSA and Top Safety Pick award from IIHS.

2021 Mazda CX-3 Trims & Pricing

2021 Mazda CX-3 Sport - news.mazdausa.com
2021 Mazda CX-3 Sport - news.mazdausa.com

Sport – $21,965

As the only trim available on the 2021 Mazda CX-3, the Sport model is certainly well equipped for about $22,000. Features like full LED lighting boast adaptive low beam headlights capable of swiveling for improved nighttime illumination. 16” alloy wheels come standard, as do power-operated side mirrors, rain-sensing windshield wipers and dual stainless-steel exhaust outlets. You can add i-Activ AWD for $1,400.

The cabin is wrapped in black cloth and features cruise control, power windows with one-touch up-and-down capability, push-button start, and automatic climate control. A 7-inch touchscreen handles Apple and Android smartphone integration as well as the 6-speaker stereo system that is prepped for satellite radio. A pair of USB ports are also on hand with Bluetooth wireless connection and 12-volt power outlet all standard fare.


Mazda ticks all the typical automotive warranty boxes with three years or 36,000 miles of basic vehicle coverage. The 24/7 roadside assistance runs for the same period, while the powertrain warranty lasts five years or 60,000 miles. Corrosion perforation coverage is also good for five years but with no mileage limit. Unlike competition from Toyota, Mazda does not offer any complimentary maintenance as part of their warranty.

What we think

2021 Mazda CX-3 - news.mazdausa.com

2021 Mazda CX-3 – news.mazdausa.com |  Shop 2021 Mazda CX-3 on Carsforsale.com

It’s a shame the 2021 Mazda CX-3 is going to disappear after this model year. Though tiny and low on power, it is one of those vehicles geared for fun driving while going slow. Mazda has never been known for thundering power plants, instead focusing on tight handling that encourages keeping your foot to the floor through on-ramps and bendy bits. Plus, it’s dirt cheap, which is a hard thing to find in autodom these days, particularly if you want the vehicle to be reasonably nice like the CX-3 is. Its replacement, the CX-30, has a starting price $2,000 more than this outgoing SUV. I would skip the AWD, which is the only option outside of paint color, and enjoy this low-price, zoom-zoomer-on-stilts while you can.

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Niel Stender

Niel Stender grew up doing replacement work on his 1990 Cherokee and 1989 Starion, so it’s not surprising that he would put his mechanical engineering degree from the University of New Hampshire to use in the car world as a vehicle dynamics engineer. Now engineering sentence structures, his writing infuses his auto experience with his time in marketing and his sales experience. Writing about cars for close to a decade now, he focuses on some of the more technical mechanical systems that are found under the hood and throughout a vehicle.

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