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2016 Mazda CX-3 tops in Car and Driver Comparison Testing

Car and Driver tests the field and finds the all-new CX-3 the best small crossover on the market. Here’s why.


The 2016 Mazda CX-3 small crossover went on sale just this month, and already it has beaten the pants off the competition. At least in Car and Driver’s opinion. In the September issue (pages 87-97), Car and Driver meticulously compares the Chevy Trax LT, Honda HR-V EX-L, Fiat 500 X Easy, Jeep Renegade Latitude, and the Mazda CX-3. In the end, the CX-3 was the hands-down winner. The CX-3 was first in 12 of the 22 rating categories. Most importantly, the Mazda CX-3 wins the “Fun to Drive” category, while also having the best fuel economy in the test.

The Mazda CX-3 didn’t do well in the rear seat and cargo area categories. Of course, if those are important to you as a buyer, perhaps the larger, but still compact, Mazda CX-5 would be a more logical choice? The Mazda CX-3 also didn’t have any “Rebates” so it could not win that category.

Car and Driver found that the CX-3 had it where it counts. The CX-3 was tops in not just the subjective opinion of the testers. The CX-3 was the car with the highest performance in almost every measured instrument test. One important area that Car and Driver does not have a category for is safety. The folks there focus more on handling, speed, that sort of thing regardless of the car’s mission. However, we will tell you that the writers here at Torque News do care about safety. The CX-3 will have advanced forward collision prevention available. That will make it eligible for the IIHS, top safety ranking, the Top Safety Pick Plus. Honda has bowed out of that contest and will not even offer any form of forward collision prevention.

The Car and Driver September issue is on news-stands now (it is about 3 weeks into its month) and you can read the full, ten-page comparison there, or wait for the abbreviated on-line version which will be published soon.


Selden (not verified)    August 19, 2015 - 4:49PM

"Best" is what's best for you. I'm no longer at an age where "fun to drive" is a high priority; I have an 1100cc motorcycle for that. Storage flexibility was high on my list of priorities, which is why I bought a Honda HR-V 10 days ago. At ~200 miles, I am completely captivated by this car, which is far more luxurious, quieter, and more comfortable than the 2009 Fit Sport it's replacing. The HR-V isn't quite as much fun to drive as the Fit, but it's a hell of a lot more comfortable.

If I want 4-wheel fun, I would probably go for a used Miata.

Selden (not verified)    August 20, 2015 - 6:12PM

@Diane : I haven't even seen a Mazda CX-3 yet, but I did take a Buick Encore out for a demo ride last year. The little turbocharged 1.3 L engine in the Encore is a delight. The other strong point of the Encore is the active noise cancellation, a feature that I expect to be adopted by more manufacturers as the technology becomes cheaper. For a car of this class, the Encore was incredibly quiet inside at speed.

The interior, especially the dashboard and controls, was a typical GM mashup of far too many poorly positioned buttons and controls, with too much Chrome. The way the rear seat folds to extend cargo space is a joke, completely inappropriate for a car retailing at this price point (although, street price has dropped several thousand dollars since I took a test drive). Many people don't realize that the Encore is built in Korea — it's a "Buick" in name only.

John Goreham    August 22, 2015 - 1:16PM

The Encore is winning over fans in big numbers. I'd love to see a head to comparison of that car with the CX-3. Generally, the car magazines don't compare cars in the "near-premium" class to the mass-market brands. So in the comparison, CD used the similar Chevy Trax. The Buick Encore is a little more expensive than the Mazda CX-3.

Karen (not verified)    September 29, 2015 - 9:15PM

If price is a consideration try the Hyundai Elantra GT or the Kia Forte 5. We bought the Hyundai Elantra GT.