Premium Crossover: Mazda’s 2021 CX-30

The 2021 CX-30 is one of four Mazda crossover models.

We’re long-time admirers of Mazda, the little Japanese automaker that could. Overshadowed by Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, Mazda is much like Subaru and to a much lesser extent, Mitsubishi, in finding and exploiting a niche in the new vehicle market.

One of Mazda’s newest models is the CX-30. This small utility vehicle slots between the CX-3 and CX-5. It might have been called the CX-4, but a different model sporting that nameplate is sold by Mazda in China. Not that many North Americans would even know that, so it’s a bit odd that CX-4 wasn’t used here as well.

See Also2023 Mazda CX-30 Review

2021 CX-30 Highlights

There is much to cover about this crossover, which was a recent test subject for Auto Trends Magazine. The 2021 CX-30 is available in 2.5 S, Select, Preferred, Premium, 2.5 Turbo, 2.5 Turbo Premium, and 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus trims. Prices range from $22,050 to $34,050, plus a $1,175 destination charge.

2021 Mazda CX-30 profile

The following represents our thoughts about the 2021 CX-30:

New features for 2021.

Mazda moves forward with its little CX-30, by making updates this year that are certainly worth noting. First, a second engine choice becomes available. This one is a turbocharged version of the standard engine. Second, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard. The smartphone integration connections are so popular with today’s drivers. Third, a 12-speaker Bose audio system is available with the Premium Package.

Gorgeous and exquisite.

Mazda’s “soul of motion” or KODO design language is all over the CX-30. From its gaping grille to its sweeping profile lines and extending to the clamshell liftgate, this model is sporty. You’re forgiven if you confuse this vehicle for a small Audi or Acura. It has the finesse of the luxury brands without the premium starting price.

Lots of premium exterior features.

LED lights are beautiful and are perhaps the best for distributing illumination. The CX-30 comes with standard LED headlights, daytime running lights, and rear combination lights. Further, this model comes with 16-inch alloy wheels. Make your move upward through the trim range and Mazda adds heated side mirrors, a power tilt-and-slide moonroof, larger wheels, a power liftgate, and roof rails.

It gets pricey.

At the same time, the CX-30 can get quite costly, especially when opting for the turbocharged engine in the top-of-the-line Premium Plus model. With key accessories added, this one builds out at $36,325. Can you say, “ouch?”

2021 Mazda CX-30 front seats
2021 Mazda CX-30 rear seats

Room for five, in a pinch.

On paper, the CX-30 seats five, but that’s quite a stretch. In fact, two will sit comfortably in the first row. Behind them, the amount of legroom measures 36.3 cubic feet. But that space shrinks considerably when tall people sit in the front row. We’ll give the rear seat placement for two, but three only for short trips for equally short people.

Elegance comes to the interior.

You’ll find the CX-30 dressed in various threads, depending on the trim. Common to all trims is the layout of the cabin with its layered dashboard, simplistic central console design, and straightforward three-dial instrument panel. The standard cloth-trimmed seats are comfortable and supportive, but imitation leather is available. Move up through the trim ranks and real hides debut. Moreover, leather covers the dashboard, with contrasting colors for visual acuity. We think the cabin ranks up there with a handful of the best luxury makes, including Cadillac and Volvo.

Standard and advanced interior equipment.

Beyond the previously mentioned seating materials, the CX-30’s cabin is dressed for success. As expected, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, and air conditioning are included. You don’t have to move up far to find an 8-way power driver’s seat with dual power lumbar support, dual-zone climate control, and heated front seats. Other features are reserved for the Premium Package. Specifically, a heated steering wheel, paddle shifters, and perforated leather-trimmed seats come in.

2021 Mazda CX-30 tech

We love tech.

Mazda answers the clarion call for the tech features we want. In particular, this one comes with an 8.8-inch touchscreen display. Also, the CX-30 has an 8-speaker audio system with HD Radio. Add in two USB ports, Mazda connected services, Bluetooth, and smartphone compatibility and this model is well equipped from the onset. But Mazda doesn’t stop there: move up through the trim range and satellite radio and a 12-speaker Bose audio system rollout. Do you want a wireless charging pad? It’s a $265 accessory charge handled at the dealer level.

Stellar safety scores.

It doesn’t get better than this. The 2021 CX-30 pulled down top safety ratings from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Specifically, the IIHS awarded the CX-30 with its Top Safety Pick+ rating. The NHTSA came in with a 5-star rating. Read on for the equipment Mazda supplies to keep passengers safe.

Generous driver-assist safety features.

Mazda comes through and equips every trim with high-beam control, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control with full stop and go. Automatic brake support and driver attention alert are also included. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a surround-view monitor are available. Opt for the Premium Plus Package and front and rear parking sensors come in.

Storage space is a mixed bag.

The CX-30’s standard storage space measures 20.2 cubic feet and that’s small but understandable given that the CX-30 straddles the subcompact and compact utility vehicle segments. The good news is that with the rear seat folded, that space more than doubles to 45.2 cubic feet. And if more cargo capacity space is needed, you can bring a trailer. When properly equipped the CX-30 can pull up to 1,500 pounds.

2021 Mazda CX-30 front fascia
The available turbo engine supplies amazing twist that almost seems out or proportion to this small model.

Two engine choices.

Every CX-30 comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. What Mazda does with this engine makes all the difference. The naturally aspirated version kicks up 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. On the other hand, the turbo brings 227 horsepower and a whopping 310 horsepower to bear (or opt for pricey premium fuel and those numbers climb to 250 and 320, respectively). We’ve driven models with both engines and the differences are noteworthy. While the standard engine is properly-suited for this diminutive model, the turbo converts the CX-30 into a hot hatch. Further, with available all-wheel drive, the turbo hangs tough while navigating the curves and pulls in and out of turns with relative ease. Both models work with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Parting Thoughts

As intimidating as the top trim prices levels are for the 2021 CX-30, well-equipped models are retailing for under $30,000. The thing is that opting for a more powerful engine will cost you.

The standard engine is strong and should satisfy most people who spend some time driving one before making their purchase decision. There is no lag to deal with and its fuel efficiency exceeds 30 mpg on the highway, which isn’t that difficult of an achievement.

All in all, the 2021 CX-30 stands out in a class of value-oriented crossovers without Mazda’s available premium chops.

2021 Mazda CX-30 rear fascia

2021 Mazda CX-30 Specifications

Mazda 2021 CX-30
Segment Compact SUV
Price Range $22,050 to $34,050
Destination Charge $1,175
Engine No. 1 2.5-liter, I4
Horsepower 186 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 186 lb.-ft. @ 6,000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Engine No. 2 2.5-liter, I4
Horsepower 227/250 hp @ 5,000 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 310/320 lb.-ft. @ 2,000/2,500  rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) 3,232 to 3,408
Wheelbase (inches) 104.5
Length (inches) 173.0
Width (inches) 70.7
Height (inches) 61.7
Headroom (f,r…inches) 38.1, 37.8
Legroom (f,r…inches) 37.8, 36.3
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 55.6, 53.6
Hip room (f,r…inches) 54.6, 53.2
Storage (cubic feet) 20.2/45.2
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) NR
Towing (pounds) 1,500
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 13.5
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 25/33/28 (I4); 22/30/25 (turbo)
Manufacturing Plant Hiroshima, Japan

2021 Mazda CX-30 rear fascia

See AlsoThe Premium and Elegant Mazda CX-9 SUV

Photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

Matthew Keegan
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