- - Sunday, March 27, 2016

It’s a new offering from Mazda and it fits in well in the subcompact crossover market. Boasting not only first-rate fuel economy, the 2016 Mazda CX-3 also offers a nice style with a sporty feel and plenty of features inside that are meant to stand out against the competition.

With the subcompact crossover market offerings pretty saturated anyway, a few to compare include the Jeep Renegade and the Honda HR-V on the short list and there is also the Nissan Juke.

The trim levels on this Mazda SUV include the Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. On the Sport base trim, you get 16-inch steel wheels, dual exhaust, rear roof spoiler, push button ignition, automatic headlights, intermittent wipers, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, push-button ignition, cloth upholstery, power accessories with cruise control and the technology add on goodies like Bluetooth, six speakers, rearview camera, USB port, voice controls and a seven-inch touchscreen interface with a control knob on the console.

Up one trim level and the Touring will give you not only heated mirrors, but a keyless entry and ignition, a front-row armrest, heated front seats and upgraded vinyl upholstery with a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

On the high-end Grand Touring, you get 18-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lights, headlights and taillights, sunroof, leather and suede upholstery, navigation system, automatic climate control, upgraded instrumentation and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. There is also a rear cargo cover and the audio offers seven Bose speakers.

The upgraded Grand Touring package is called i-Activsense and it adds automatic high beam headlight control and wipers with extra safety features that include lane departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking.

If you want a few of the higher-end Grand Touring features on the lesser trims, there is the Premium package that gives you a sunroof, rear cargo cover and a higher end audio system.

Under the hood, the 2016 Mazda CX-3 has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque with an automatic six-speed transmission. While you can opt for all-wheel drive, front-wheel drive comes standard.

The 2016 Mazda CX-3 covers safety with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side and side curtain airbags as well as a rearview camera. The Touring trim adds the blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert and the Grand Touring includes the extra package with the forward collision mitigation system.

As for the ride experience inside, the Mazda folks have incorporated high-quality materials that combine with a classy styling to give the driver and riders a sophisticated experience. On the higher-end Grand Touring, there is even the tachometer and easy to read digital speedometer that seems to fit the overall interior atmosphere just right. The center console has the control knob for ease of moving from one feature to another and the comfort inside for the front seat driver and rider is a standout in this subcompact crossover market.

In the back seat, the riders might not fare as well since the seats are a bit cramped and without the rear seats folded down cargo space comes in only at 12.4 cubic feet. However, with the rear seats down there should be plenty of room for hauling with 44.5 cubic feet.

Getting behind the wheel of the 2016 Mazda CX-3 is comfortable and you will find this vehicle easily takes the turns with accurateness taking the road overall with plenty of acceleration as needed. Even better, the unnecessary road noise is non-existent on this Mazda meaning that when all is said and done this crossover has a lot to offer in its introduction year.

Should You Need to Know: Think of the blend of excellent maneuverability in the body style of a hatchback crossover and you have the correct combination in mind for Mazda’s latest subcompact market offering.

Miles Per Gallon: On the 2016 Mazda CX-3 I drove, the gas mileage came in at 29 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway.

Cost: The 2016 Mazda CX-3 I drove had a price tag of $25,100.

For more auto tips and information follow Rita @RitaCook13.

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