Little 2024 Mazda CX-30 SUV drives big, looks sporty

James Raia

There’s plenty to like about small, simple and efficient cars with personalities and driving traits ideal for city dwellers. The 2024 Mazda CX-30 qualifies. It’s a compact sport utility vehicle with a big presence.

Most of the eight trims are powered by a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine with 191 horsepower and standard all-wheel drive.

The 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus is only available with a turbo engine. It includes much of the other trims’ equipment but adds plenty. It has a turbocharged, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with 227 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission.

Little 2024 Mazda CX-30 SUV drives big, looks sporty 1
The 2024 Mazda CX-30 has a sporty appeal, particularly as a compact SUV. Images courtesy of Mazda.

Value is a top attraction, regardless of trim. The SUV’s standard features include: Adaptive cruise control (adjusts speed to maintain a constant distance between the vehicle and the car in front); Automatic high beams; Drowsy driver monitor (issues an alert if sensors determine driver fatigue); Forward collision mitigation (warns the driver of an impending collision and applies brakes in certain situations); and lane-keeping assistance (makes steering corrections to help keep the vehicle centered in its lane).

Mazda emphasizes safety in its vehicles, with many standard features earmarked for option packages in far more expensive cars.

The reviewed 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus also includes: Front and rear parking sensors (alerts if obstacles may not be visible in front of or behind the vehicle when parking); Rear cross-traffic with automatic braking (brakes if sensors detect an imminent collision with an object behind the vehicle); Surround-view camera system (gives a top-down view of the vehicle and its surroundings for tight parking situations); and traffic jam assist (enhanced adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance at speeds under 40 mph).

With blind-spot monitors new for all trims and 10 airbags including rear side-impact airbags, Mazda further expands its safety priority. It gets top ratings from the national safety and insurance watchdog companies.

Little 2024 Mazda CX-30 SUV drives big, looks sporty 2
The 2024 Mazda CX-30 has an efficient, minimalist interior.

Beyond a wealth of standard features from other trims, the Turbo Premium Plus adds a heating steering wheel, a 12-speaker Bose sound system and a 10.3-inch, touch-sensitive infotainment and navigation screen. Like on all Mazda vehicles, the navigation screen is recessed, resulting in an unattached feel. It’s too far away for easy use.

Small SUVs don’t often have sporty looks matched with sporty performance. The CX-30 has both qualities. The exterior is handsome, with clean-angled lines and well-proportioned features. There’s nothing flashy included just to make a statement.

Likewise, the interior design, material quality and use of cupholders, pockets and other small openings give the CX-30 a dose of European pizzaz. The look and feel are further attractive with the contrasting dark gray-and-tan interior.

The little Mazda performs well. It has sporty handling and the all-wheel drive assists the intuitive responsive handling.

Scooting around town, easily maneuvering through parking lots and negotiating tight other situations are all part of the CX-30’s appeal. The SUV corners well, notably with improved wet-weather traction.

Despite its spry driving feel, the Mazda has its sluggish moments. Acceleration in lower trims is satisfactory. But in higher trims, the 0-to-60 miles per hour standard is accomplished in 5.8 seconds. Gas mileage averages are 22 miles per gallon in city driving, 30 mpg on the highway.

Top competitors include the Subaru Crosstrek and Hyundai Tucson, both worthy choices.

The CX-30 is the sportiest among the trio. It’s more styled like a coupe, rather than an SUV. The cabin has a refreshingly minimalist appeal. And what’s there is constructed from quality materials. The CX-30 has the smallest overall cargo space of the segment leaders, 20.2 cubic feet.

Yet the 2024 Mazda CX-30 feels and drives anything but small. It’s a big deal among compact SUVs. Fully equipped, it costs about $38,000.

Article Last Updated: December 30, 2023.

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