2020 vs. 2021 Mazda CX-3: Which SUV Is the Smarter Buy?

In recent years, Mazda has made a name for itself as a safe and innovative vehicle manufacturer, especially thanks to the Mazda CX-3. The Mazda CX-3 is a compact SUV that has gotten quite popular since it was first released a few years ago. When it comes to deciding which year of Mazda CX-3 you might want, there may not be a simple or straightforward answer to which is the best. This is especially true when comparing the 2020 Mazda CX-3 to the 2021 version. 

Let’s take a closer look at each model and talk about which version might be the better deal overall. 

An overview of the 2020 Mazda CX-3

RELATED: Mazda Has Both 1 of the Most Satisfying and Least Satisfying Cars

The Mazda CX-3 was first introduced in 2016, and it has since undergone several minor improvements each year to produce an overall great compact SUV in 2020. The most prominent upgrades that the 2020 model received were the addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and the i-Activsense driver assistance features that became standard. 

The i-Activsense features that were added include adaptive headlights, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and more. Thanks to these features, and stellar crash test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. News gave this vehicle a 9.8 out of 10 for safety. The popular car reviewing website was less impressed by its reduced cargo and seating space, but they did enjoy the performance and handling of the vehicle, as well as the quality of materials the interior is made with. 

The 2020 Mazda CX-3 also gets great gas mileage, especially when compared to the rest of its class, coming in at an estimated 29 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway. 

The 2020 Mazda CX-3 starts at $20,620, and it only comes in one trim: the CX-3 Sport. 

An overview of the 2021 Mazda CX-3

Not much changed from the 2020 to 2021 versions of the Mazda CX-3, but there are a few important additions to be aware of. The two most talked-about upgrades include the improved automatic LED headlights and the addition of night vision pedestrian detection to even the most basic CX-3. 

The vehicle still doesn’t provide back seat passengers with much room, and the cargo space remains scarce. It remains fun to drive with an athletic and powerful engine, and the interior is still made with high-quality materials that make it feel luxurious despite the lack of space. One reviewer from U.S. News noted that the 2021 Mazda CX-3 seems to struggle once the vehicle gets up to highway speeds, which is a definite disappointment for a vehicle that handles well overall.

The 2021 Mazda CX-3 also starts at $20,620, and it, too, comes with just the Sport trim. 

Which is a better deal?

The choice between the 2020 Mazda CX-3 is a lot less clear-cut than it may seem on the surface. The 2021 model did not come with a price change, though it does come with a few upgraded safety features that may be appealing to some.

The 2020 CX-3 has a slightly better performance rating than the 2021 version on U.S. News’ comparison, but otherwise, the two’s scorecards are basically the same. Both vehicles scored high for safety ratings, and somewhat low for reliability. Both also still SUVs suffer from a cramped interior and smaller cargo space, making the Mazda CX-30 a more appealing choice for many anyway. 

When it comes down to it, though, it makes sense for most people to opt for the 2021 Mazda CX-3 simply because of those added safety features that don’t come with an added cost.