Crossover & Midsize

Mazda Makes the Lightest Compact SUV on the Market

Mazda offers two SUVs in the subcompact segment. The CX-30 is slightly larger and heavier than the Mazda CX-3. But don’t count out the 2021 Mazda CX-3 just yet. It happens to be the lightest compact SUV available on the market today.

Why does that matter? And what impact does the CX-3’s lighter weight have on the SUV’s performance?

The lightweight Mazda CX-3

Each year, more small SUV choices emerge. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Many of these tiny SUVs have cheap interiors and noisy and/or rough rides. But subcompact crossovers fill a niche because seemingly every American wants an SUV these days. They can’t always afford midsize SUVs or the luxury models that do everything but serve drinks. 

However, the 2021 Mazda CX-3 isn’t an underdeveloped SUV shoehorned into an automaker’s lineup to be competitive. It’s the real deal offering quality that will surprise you. It’s fuel-efficient, boasts a striking exterior, and offers an enjoyable driving experience.

The CX-3 is also light on its feet. Its curb weight ranges from 2,851 to 2,994 pounds, according to U.S. News. And the lighter weight gives this zippy crossover solid agility. 

With that comes quick steering and responsiveness, according to Consumer Reports. You’ll enjoy navigating this little SUV through big-city traffic or on the highway because it’s comfortable in either setting.

A fun ride

RELATED: Mazda Uses a Special Design Philosophy for All of Its Cars

Consumer Reports’ reviewers enjoyed test-driving the 2021 Mazda CX-3 almost immediately. It cornered well, with the body feeling secure through those maneuvers. They found the CX-3 also handled winding roads with panache.

They had a lot of fun with the small SUV on the track. It adapted well to steering and throttle input from the driver in corners. They enjoyed how the car’s inherent balance and polished handling made the ride a delight because it was predictable, adaptive, and fun.  

Under the hood, the Mazda CX-3 offers a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive. It offers decent power, but don’t expect to win any races. The six-speed automatic transmission that completes the powertrain is responsive and smooth. The CR team explains that the shifts are synchronized well with the engine’s conservative power, getting the driver good acceleration.

The only time CR saw a noticeable lack of power was pulling off a quick merge or climbing a hill. And the CX-3’s great fuel efficiency is certainly a perk. It got 28 mpg overall for the CR team on regular gas. Only the Honda HR-V beat that with 29 mpg. 

Excellent safety ratings

So the 2021 Mazda CX-3 is lighter than the other compact SUVs on the market. Does that affect its safety?

It doesn’t appear to have an impact. The CX-3 is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick Plus. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the 2021 model 5 out of 5 stars in overall safety. The CX-3 garnered 5 stars on both the frontal and side crash tests. And in the rollover evaluation, it earned 4 stars.  

The CX-3 comes loaded with standard safety features. They include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and day and night pedestrian detection. Automatic high-beam headlights are also standard, along with adaptive LED headlights, forward collision warning, a head-up display, lane departure warning, and a rearview camera. You also get rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and stop-and-go adaptive cruise control standard. Rear parking sensors are available, but you can’t get lane keep assist.

The 2021 Mazda CX-3 is the lightest subcompact SUV available. It also offers a fun, spirited drive and excellent gas mileage. The CX-3’s lack of passenger or cargo space might be a deal-breaker for some. But if you can live with that, you’ll have an SUV that’s safe, stylish, and fun.