Crossover & Midsize

The 2020 Mazda CX-30 Has an Underwhelming, 2.5-Liter Problem

Mazda, like most things in the world, is going through changes. The once maker of simple and affordable cars has decided to make the change to fancier, more expensive cars. With its sights set on Lexus and Acura, Mazda has found itself a little stuck between the two worlds. The Mazda CX-30, in particular, can’t quite make its mind up on what it wants to be. 

The 2020 Mazda CX-30 does look good though

Whether or not Mazda brought the CX-30 across the line from budget to luxury is up for debate, but it definitely looks the part. MotorTrend points out that in its class, the CX-30 is a standout for its design. The lines are crispy and simple. Everything looks intentional and well-placed. A great interior can cover a great many sins, but does the CX-30 have that? The interior even has an element of crispness and luxury to it, at first.

2020 Mazda CX-30 is on display at the 112th Annual Chicago Auto Show
2020 Mazda CX-30 | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Space is key for a luxury SUV

As MotorTrend continues their assessment of the Mazda CX-30, they note that the pretty design and expensive flair starts to wear off the longer you look. The back seats are the smallest in its class. That doesn’t sound fancy to me. A large part of what makes for a luxurious experience is comfort. It is pretty hard to be comfortable with knees in your chest. The low roofline, which in fairness, is part of what makes the design so nice, gives the back a further cramped and claustrophobic feel, according to MotorTrend. 

The engine is really holding the 2020 Mazda CX-30 back

The theme of mixed signals is really starting to take hold with the 2020 CX-30. The driving experience is said to be a back and forth of good and bad. The MotorTrend testers say the steering felt light and nimble. The quick steering definitely harkens back to the old, as they put it, “Zoom, Zoom” era Mazda. 

The Major flaw that cannot be overlooked is the woefully underpowered and leftover 186-hp 2.5-liter inline-four cylinder engine from the 2014 Mazda 6. How is Mazda going to try to push for a next-level rebrand when it is slapping old, clunky motors in fancy-looking new cars? 

RELATED: Mazda Made a Bold Change to the 2021 CX-30

As MotorTrend puts it, “In an era when most competitors are moving toward smaller-displacement turbo engines, dual-clutches, and, yes, even CVTs, the CX-30 feels outclassed and underpowered.” 

Not only is the 2.5-liter engine a dog, but the outdated transmission is also a mess as well. MotorTrend editor-in-chief says the 2020 Mazda CX-30 was, “Really hunting around in gears on long inclines, often a double or triple downshift to get into the powerband.

Is there anything good other than looks? 

Well, it’s definitely not the infotainment. MotorTrend says that maybe the most frustrating part of CX-30. It has one wheel and four buttons that might seem simple at first, but supposedly, that makes every possible task annoying and difficult. 

Like the exterior of the Mazda CX-30, the interior looks nice. Everything is clean and organic looking. The dash isn’t splattered with buttons and knobs. It is not the luxurious cabin Mazda hopes it would be, but it doesn’t seem bad. 

Rebranding must be hard

Mazda is trying to make a change. On the one hand, I respect the effort and trying to change their standing in the automotive world. On the other hand, I kind of liked that they made simple, inexpensive cars that simply got the job done without too much fuss.