2022 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo AWD Premium review by Ben Lewis

It’s been a little over a year since we last tested the Mazda CX-30. And while the changes are small for the CX, the compact SUV/crossover marketplace continues to be red hot, so we wondered, does one of our favorites still reign supreme? Let’s find out!

Still the Supermodel

While the CX-30 shares a platform with the Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback, we think the CX Is the pic of litter – and that’s no small feat – the sedan has an Audi-like tastefulness, and the 3 hatch has the kind of aggressive looks you’d want in a true sports coupe. But the CX-30 brings it all together, looking sporty and upscale, fresh and modern. The CX has been around a couple years, but we still got loads of compliments. This model has great legs!

We’re getting used to large grilles lately, from the Lexus LX to the BMW 430i, but we’d have to say Mazda has possibly done the best job of integrating it into the overall design. That large grille is surrounded by tasteful chrome in our Premium model, while the LED headlights look angry, staring you down. The contrasting lower fascia adds to the menace.

The profile ups the sports quotient, a sleek 5-door hatch design with notably little front or rear overhang – handy for off-roading, but also giving a muscular presence. Adding to the capable looks, the CX sits tall with 8-inches of ground clearance, wearing thick black fender flares to protect those muscular sides on dirt, gravel and the like. We especially liked the blacked-out 18-inch alloys that really fill out the wheel wells.

At the rear, LED taillights with an afterburner motif sit atop a rear hatch with a deep cut in. A contrasting lower fascia adds to the tough looks, while two nice fat exhaust pipes poke out underneath, promising POWAH!

We also loved the Polymetal Gray Metallic paint on our tester. It’s rich and upscale looking and brings a sleek unified look to the whole vehicle.

Welcome to Premium

Inside, the CX-30 remains the class of its class, with an interior that looks like it belongs in an Audi.

Your upgrade starts when you open the door, and you’re met with a gorgeous two-tone interior in black and rich brown that we first saw on the larger CX-9 model. It was impressive there, and in this price range, it’s stunning.

The quality of materials gets your immediate attention, with real leather on the seats and steering wheel, both of which are heated for a toasty ride in any conditions. The front seats are firm in the European way, and easily adjustable for comfort. Sitting up front, the CX-30 plays tricks with you – the wide horizontal design makes it feel like a much larger vehicle, with impressive shoulder and legroom.

Well for those in front, at least. The rear seats are comfortable, but the CX-30’s overall tidy dimensions – it is based off a small sedan/hatch after all – means legroom can be tight for taller adults. Short trips, no problem, but if you’re looking for more space, both the CX-5 and CX-50 would be worth looking into.

Speaking of looking into, we love the CX’s lovely gauges with a crisp analog look, even though the speedo is actually part of a 7-inch LCD display. It’s clear Mazda gave a lot of thought here – cleverly illuminating parts on the screen to show things like speed limits, your cruise control settings and more, in a way that’s never busy. Elegant comes to mind.

You also have a large 8.8-inch color display in the center of the dash, with all your info-tainment needs served up via a circular dial and switchgear that’s right behind the shift lever. Very Audi and Lexus like!

Speaking of those luxury brands, we were definitely flying First Class in our Turbo Premium model, with dual-zone climate control, advanced keyless entry, 12-speaker Bose audio system, heated leather steering wheel with paddle shifters, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Wi-Fi hotspot capability, Head-up display, auto-dim mirrors, navigation and more. You also get Mazda Connected Services with all the nice concierge and remote features that make life easier.  

Turbo Terrificness

The CX-30 comes with a choice of engines – a 186 horse, 2.5 liter four-cylinder that gives a nice balance of power and efficiency. We advise you ignore it. Why? Well because Mazda offers a 2.5-liter turbo engine that not only cranks out 250 horsepower, it transforms the vehicle. Acceleration off the line is very strong, with 310 lb.-ft. of torque delivered to standard all-wheel drive via quick-shifting 6-speed automatic.

With this kind of power, it’s no surprise that we left it in Sport mode. It really steps up the throttle response, and we seriously enjoyed hand-shifting the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. We’ll also note that the CX-30 feels tuned for a sportier experience than other models (including the Mazda 3) that had the same motor.

While we do have a favorite motor, you’re not going to go wrong with the chassis on any Mazda. You can tell the engineers really love driving, there is a wonderful balance of great steering feel, quick response, and the CX-30’s slightly taller ride height even gives you a creamy, smooth ride.

Mazda says the turbo model will even return a combined 25 mpg – easily reachable if you stay out of the turbo zone. That’s a big if!

So, the CX gives you thrilling performance when you want it. But just as important, it serves up   elegant and smooth cruising when you’d rather kick back. It’s a brilliant blend. Add confidence to that list: you’ve got Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Lane Departure and Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Monitoring. You feel well looked after.

Can I Afford the Luxury Life?

Well, there’s a wide range of CX-30 models to choose from. You can get into a 2.5 S start at just $22,950, and we think that’s a bargain for the sleek style, standard AWD, and great driving dynamics. 

Our 2.5 Turbo Premium tester was at the other end of the spectrum, giving you the full enchilada experience, starting at $32,800. Add in $395 for the handsome Polymetal Gray Metallic paint, $125 for a stainless rear bumper guard, and $1,225 for destination. We rang the bell at $34,545.

With its luxury and turbo performance, we think the CX-30 punches above its weight. We’d compare it to the Lexus UX at $41,655. The Lexus has great looks and luxury, but performance wise, it can’t keep up with the Mazda. We also like the Volvo XC 40 but at $47,490 it’s a huge leap in price. We’d probably be most tempted by the new Mazda CX-50 at $43,170. It carries all the same goodness – just in a larger package. If you need the space, it’s a great alternative.

With stunning looks inside and out, great driving dynamics, and thrilling turbo power, the 2022 Mazda CX-30 is a stellar crossover/SUV!