The 2021 Mazda CX-3 Is a Great SUV That People Hate

Customer satisfaction is a strange and elusive thing. Take the Jeep Wrangler, for instance. It is routinely scored poorly on Consumer Reports, but polls show that its drivers are happy with their purchase. Meanwhile, really reliable and affordable SUVs like the 2021 Mazda CX-3 is found to be a disappointing buy by many of its customers. 

Is the 2021 Mazda CX-3 a good car? 

The market is booming with small crossover SUVs. People love the practicality of something that drives smoothly and is good on gas while also having the space of a bigger vehicle. The CX-3 hits those marks except for the size part. According to Consumer Reports, it has a peppy engine, nimble handling, and a dashing appearance. 

A red 2021 Mazda CX-30 overlooks an ocean
2021 Mazda CX-30 | Mazda North American Operations

It scored an overall 73/100 in CR’s testing. With a starting price of $20,790, it is affordable considering the reliability, safety, and functionality. 

What engine does the 2021 Mazda CX-3 have? 

Look, the 2021 CX-3 isn’t fast at all. However, its 148-hp 2.0-liter inline-four has enough pep to keep you smiling. The little 2.0-liter is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that isn’t the most cutting edge box in the world, but it shifts quickly and smoothly. The CX-3 comes as a front-wheel-drive as standard, but an all-wheel-drive system is an option – and a good one at that. The tradeoff in this modestly-powered little SUV is killer fuel economy. Rated at 28 mpg combined, the CX-3 is second only to the Honda HR-V in its class. 

How is it to drive

Like most Mazda offerings, the CX-3 isn’t very powerful, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fast. The little SUV is very light on its feet and can eat up corners with ease. CR says it shows minimal body roll in hard corners. Even more, the steering is said to be nicely weighted and gracious with road feedback. In fact, CR goes so far as to say that driving the CX-3 on the test track was a “delight.” 

2021 Mazda CX-3 parked in a city setting
2021 Mazda CX-3 | Mazda

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 The other aspects of driving get the same love from CR. The ride is comfortable even though the suspension is a touch on the stiff side. Also, CR found that the road and wind noise was successfully quelled, giving the cabin a peaceful and quiet quality. 

So why don’t people like the CX-3? 

Consumer Reports evaluates consumer satisfaction by asking a series of questions about what drivers think of a car’s different aspects. Overall only 52 percent of CX-3 buyers said they were pleased with their choice and would buy one again. Most owners were pleased with the driving experience, 70 percent, in fact. But, when it came to comfort and value, the numbers dropped considerably. Only 56 percent of owners were satisfied with the value, and 43 percent found it comfortable.

It just didn’t cut it 

Mazda has a strong reputation in the car world. It has long made reliable, affordable, and fun cars and SUVs. I guess part of the reason people buy small SUVs to live with one foot in each world; the SUV and sedan worlds. However, most complaints about the CX-3 have to do with the cabin and trunk area being too small. This segment is wildly popular, but it has to tow a thin line. Make it too big and, well, it’s too big, but make it too small, and you might as well have bought a sedan that is better on fuel and more fun to drive. The CX-3 seemed to juuuust fall on the later side of that line.