2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD – Bottom Line Review

2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD:

ADDING A LAYER  TO AN ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED CAKE CAN SATIATE MORE APPETITES: At patisserie Mazda an already delectable sweet compact car in the display case has been elevated to enhance versatility and up the appeal.

Baking the all-new 2020 Mazda CX-30 crossover sport utility calls for the following ingredients:

  • Mazda 3 5-door, raised 1.5″ higher

  • Hatchback verging on wagon utility

  • Lots of grey body cladding

  • “0” suffix to designation because CX-4 is a Chinese market exclusive model

  • Jinba Ittai (rider and steed unity) + Kaizen (constant improvment)


WHAT: 2020 Mazda CX-30 AWD Premium. This all new subcompact crossover utility model has platform commonality with the BP fourth generation of Mazda 3 sedan / hatchback. It is one size up from the DJ series Mazda CX-3 and one size down from the CX-5 crossover ute.


Power: transverse 2.5L DOHC 16V DI gas I-4 = 186 hp/ 186 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm. G-vectoring throttle front wheel traction transfer. AWD models feature 2-cylinder deactivation.

Drivetrain: 6-spd. torque converter planetary automatic transaxle + (optional) PTU to multi-plate wet clutch differential torque vectoring variable all-wheel drive.


 WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE(S):  Not content to be a mere lifted cookie cutter of the BP Mazda 3 hatchback, the addition of a D-pillar, with sail window between it and the C-pillar is less monolithic. The front shark’s nose comes through bearing the same seductive chrome link pentagonal grill, chrome arms extended to cradle the swept back thin headlamp housings, with cinched lower corners. It’s been dipped entirely in contrast darkened lower cladding, which verges on comically high especially at the wheel arches. The liftgate is more punched out as in the larger CX-5 crossover. The CX-30 shares it’s larger sibling’s thin tail lamp modules and a ruggedized bumper cover.

2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD:
2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD:

WHY: Raising the respected Mazda 3 hatchback satiates the SUV craving.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late winter 2019-2020

WHERE: Mazda new car dealers

WHERE MADE: Salamanca, Mexico

HOW STRONG: While a turbocharger is in the Mazda 3‘s 2.5L straight four-cylinder’s cards nothing has been confirmed for its jacked up CX-30 cousin. Until such an announcement, the 6-speed transmission with shift paddles capably coalesces the peaky spin of the Skyactiv direct injected twin-came larger inline-4 powerplant. Once past the tentative throttle tip-in and some overly firm upshifts, the snaps of double gear downshifts generate impressive engine braking.

HOW LIMBER: It would be almost hasty to indict Mazda for employing twist beam rear wheel control control for packaging purposes. Improved rear toe in control makes for rather composed if sedate maneuvering. Damping rebound is so apt that imposing frost heaves are nearly completely forgiven. Longer lower front control arms benefits front toe for reduced initial understeer. The electric steering rack maintains a communicative linearity, though feeling somewhat under-assisted. G-vectoring cornering power manipulation is more noticeable here then in more terrestrial Mazda 3‘s reducing dive and roll in corners by engine power adjustment. Only traction sensors can transmit up to 50% of any of all-wheel drive’s output spin making the process unobtrusive.

– Standing on the pedal governing the 4-wheel disc binders stands pedal yields an initial softness though bite is quite linear for this segment.

HOW FAR: 29 miles per gallon combined fuel economy = 10% < Mazda 3 sedan 2.5L AWD. 420 miles interstate range per tankful of 87 octane petrol.

HOW BIG / LITTLE: Actually lies on a 2.8″ truncated Mazda 3 hatchback wheelbase but doesn’t suffer for it inside. The cockpit feels accommodating owing to a lower, deeper cowl while raised seat cushions afford reasonable legroom. Rear seat noggins room and knee room betters on the car but doesn’t approach the generosity of a Kia Soul.

2020 Mazda CX-30 AWD 104.5″ wheelbase =  2.3″ > Buick Encore GX, 1.0″ > Kia Seltos

+1: 36.3″-inches Row 2 legroom = 0.3″ > Buick Encore GX, 1.7″ < Kia Seltos

2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD:


HOW USEFUL: Cargo bay carries three roll-aboard carry-on suitcases; 60/40% split folding rear seat backs. +1 Usable fore and aft door pocket storage. Glove box stretches wider; +/- Smart phone storage is way up, including a lower front center stack tray, but still trails competitors connectivity and concealment. -1 Despite noticeable upsizing from the CX-3, still packs less than the rest of the pack; split 2nd Row seat backs fall short of folding flat.

2020 Mazda 3 AWD 20.2 cu. ft. cargo space (nom.) = 14% < Buick Encore GX, 24% < Kia Seltos

2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD:


HOW SAFEIIHS 2020 Top Pick winner: 8 airbags, Rear camera w/ fixed gridlines, Sonar park audible park assist; Back-up side mirror tilt

Driver assist technology: City collision avoidance braking w/ pedestrian detection; Blind spot, rear cross traffic warning; Rear side traffic braking,  Lane departure warning with selectable vibration/ chime; Lane keep assist; Adaptive cruise control – full; e-parking brake auto hold; Wrong pedal depressed warning.

-1 No lane centering autonomy; Rear camera display doesn’t fill media screen

2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD: Side mirror blind spot warning + media display rear cross traffic warning



The tested 2020 Mazda CX-30 was of the Premium trim. It may not quite as bespoke as the Signature series of larger Mazda siblings. However, it demonstrates an undoubtedly painstaking attention to detail. Display graphics benefit from enhanced contrast visibility. The pathway through infotainment menus has been shortened. Minimized physical controls have been finished in robustly pleasing materials exhibiting precision action.

Improved cushion comfort, advanced foam leather seats, including driver’s 8-way power adjustment and 2-position memory; Thick padded front and rear outboard headrests; Quaduple channel door seals and thicker glass for excellent cabin isolation.

2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD:

Cool Gizmo(s): Full color Heads Up Display; selectable layout TFT center gauge cluster w/ traffic sign recognition.

2020 Mazda CX-30: heads up full color Adaptive Display w/ redundant traffic sign recognition
2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD: On the road with HDD GPS navigation and color HUD

Details Done Right: Light contrast simulated leather dashtop, upper door panels with contrast stitching; Tight grain soft mid dash and door panels; Aluminum accents, door speaker housing covers, climate control knobs, steering wheel spoke switches.

Nearly Non Descript: -1 Horizontal steering wheel spoke switches have impossible to read script and lack tactile distinction, Uneven gap where upper door panels meets dash.

HOW “APP” -LICABLE:  A partly dash embedded, wider-screen MazdaConnect infotainment display appears less monolithic than its forebearer.  When navigation is opted for, the map mode can be split with media information. One would have to step up to a true luxury brand to qualify for such a splendid feeling and acting center console Commander dial.

2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD:

– There remains a learning curve to the re-categorized MazdaConnect sub-menus. Stand alone mobile device apps have been ditched with the inclusion of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay phone projection. The Bose Centerpoint sound system makes a convincing case to the ears for budget audiophile accurate spatial placement.

Dash top 8.8″ flat-panel LCD infotainment screen with Commander toggle dial control; Native HDD GPS voice command / guidance Navigation; Voice command hands-free communications;  SMS with stored contacts photos; 425 W, 12-speaker Bose Centerpoint 2.0 audio w/ Linear Sound; USB x 2, 12V x 1; (available) Qi wireless charging pad inside front center armrest bin.

+1 More versatile and comprehensible voice commanded navigation and media; Pictograms depict submenu functions

+/- Mazda implementation of Sirius Travellink supplants typical Movies application with Parking app filled with incomplete listings.

-1 No 2nd Row USB ports; Quite a spin, depress or toggle center console rotary command controller effort when using mobile phone projection systems. Media display lacks any touch capability.

HOW MUCH: $31,525 suggested retail price 2020 Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD.

WHAT’S MISSING: Visible labeling for steering wheel spoke switches. An automatic engaging electronic emergency brake which doesn’t cause lurching before disengaging via throttle.

ANY COMPETITION: Buick Encore GX +1 fuel economy, touch screen infotainment

(Contributing Editor: J. Flynn)


An automotive enthusiast since an orange toy VW Beetle ended up in his playpen and following him everywhere, George Straton has been chief editor at ChicagoNow.com/Drive-He-Said automotive lifestyle blog since 2010. In 2017 George established Roadblazing.com, dedicated to accurate automotive reviews, news and road trip stories. George is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Phoenix Automotive Press Association. George also happens to be an attorney and Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers fan. Present ride: 2022 Mazda 3 Turbo AWD Hatchback.

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