The two most notable trends in crossovers this year are the emphasis on the smaller end of the size scale and the shift to active safety systems. Honda’s HR-V and Mazda’s CX-3 are the two most exciting compact crossover offerings launching this summer. Both are expected to offer much of the fun and driving pleasure both companies' cars are known for at a size and price many buyers are looking forward to. One important difference between the Mazda CX-3 and some competitors like the 2015 Buick Encore and Honda HR-V is that Mazda will offer advanced forward collision prevention (FCP) with auto braking.
Having been saved from an accident in an Acura with FCP on the highway this winter, I will no longer recommend any vehicle without this technology. It is considered so important by IIHS, the leading automotive safety group in the U.S., that only vehicles with advanced or superior forward collision prevention are even considered for the highest safety rating, the Top Safety Pick Plus. NHTSA, our government’s automotive safety group, is adding the technology to it recommended equipment list and some are speculating it will be mandatory soon. Commenting on the technology, Consumer Reports said, “If you are looking for a new car, get one with FCW (Forward Collision Warning).
Mazda’s new 2016 CX-3 will not feature the equipment as standard. No mainstream automaker has taken that step yet on an affordable model. At $1,920 the i-ACTIVSENSE safety package on the Grand Touring Mazda CX-3 is downright pricey. Toyota plans to offer similar equipment for about $300 on most of its models starting in 2016, including on the RAV-4. The Mazda package does also come with Radar Cruise Control, High Beam Control System, Lane Departure Warning System, rain-sensing wipers and auto on/off headlights.
Both the Honda HR-V and CX-3 are likely to pass their crash-tests with flying colors when tested. However, that is now the minimum expected of a modern car. Mazda’s forward crash prevention technology will make it eligible for the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus designation, something some of its rivals cannot be considered for.