Crossover & Midsize

The 2020 Mazda CX-30 Is Missing a Key Piece of Technology

Like many automakers today, Mazda has several crossover SUV models. The newly-introduced 2020 Mazda CX-30 is a subcompact SUV that sits between the CX-3, which is another subcompact, and the CX-5, a slightly larger compact SUV. Interestingly, the smaller CX-3 is less expensive than the CX-30 but comes with more standard features.

The five-seater Mazda CX-30 has a lengthy list of standard driver-assist features, was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and even earned the honor of being named U.S. News’ No. 2 best subcompact SUV behind only the Hyundai Kona. However, critics have noticed that there seems to be a glaring oversight in the 2020 Mazda CX-30.

The Mazda CX-30’s grand entrance

The Mazda CX-30 is a brand-new model introduced in 2020, and it’s striking inside and out. It has Mazda’s signature sleek and sharp-but-not-too-aggressive exterior styling, and its surprisingly luxurious interior rivals much more expensive luxury vehicles. An abundance of soft-to-the-touch surfaces, well-crafted, plush seats and contrasting upholstery trim all lend themselves more to a Lexus than a middle-of-the-road Mazda.

A Car and Driver editor put it perfectly when he wrote, “There’s an elegant simplicity, and the materials in the places you look and interact with are excellent for the class.” While the CX-30’s cargo capacity is average for the segment, its extra-wide hatch opening makes the 20.2 cubic-feet of space in the cargo hold seem much larger.

There’s a lot more to the 2020 Mazda CX-30 than just what you can see and touch. For example, it has an exceptionally smooth and comfortable ride, plus the responsive steering consumers have come to expect — and love — from Mazda.

All models come standard with several i-Activsense driver-assist technologies that you’d typically have to add on, including automatic high-beam headlights, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with lane-keep assist, automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a driver monitoring system. The CX-30 also received an IIHS 2020 Top Safety Pick after scoring the highest-possible “Good” in all six crash tests. 

There’s just one “but”

RELATED: The 2020 Mazda CX-30 Is More Luxurious Than You’d Expect

Mazda is well-known for designing its cars with driving enthusiasts in mind and equipping them with the most up-to-date features and technology. Looking at the 2020 Mazda CX-30’s list of driver-assist features and considering the premium interior, that rings true in this model as well. There’s one thing that hasn’t been discussed yet, though: in-car entertainment.

The Mazda CX-30 has a beautiful 8.8-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, but it isn’t a touchscreen. Instead, the system is controlled with a large knob positioned down low on the center console. Tech aficionados aren’t happy, but it turns out that there’s actually an excellent reason for Mazda choosing the knob control over a touchscreen.

Touch-less infotainment?

According to Motor Authority, Mazda announced in early 2019 that it was doing away with touchscreens in all future vehicles. Although the bold announcement caused many raised eyebrows, it was an extremely well-thought-out and well-researched decision. 

Mazda’s research proved that touchscreens are far more distracting to drivers than non-touchscreen infotainment setups. Not only do touchscreens cause drivers to look away from the road for longer periods of time, but the research also uncovered a correlation between the driver reaching over to touch the screen and unintentionally drifting out of his or her lane.

This makes perfect sense as you have to look directly at a touchscreen to control it. With a knob, particularly one positioned low like the 2020 Mazda CX-30’s, you can manipulate it while your eyes remain on the road.

It’s clear that Mazda is committed to increasing driver safety. While that noble mission certainly deserves some applause, it should be noted that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are designed specifically to be used with touchscreen systems, so expect their functionality to be a bit clunky in the 2020 Mazda CX-30.