Reviewing the 2019 Mazda CX-3

The top-line Grand Touring model takes the Mazda CX-3 to a new level and makes it a top value.

Four years into its first generation, the 2019 Mazda CX-3 has been upgraded from last year’s model. It’s a good thing because the subcompact-crossover sport utility vehicle competition continues to intensify.

The new Mazda has more support and comfort in its seats, and leather upholstery is now an option. Noise, harshness and vibrations are improved via an adjusted, smoother-running 2.0-liter engine. Equally subtle changes: The anti-fog lights and B and C pillars get black trim, the front spoiler silver trim. The taillights and grille have also been revised, with the latter now featuring four horizontal bands, three less than previous editions.

Since its debut as a 2016 model, the Mazda CX-3 has found a healthy market. But newbies in the mix, including the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, the Subaru Crosstrek and Jeep Renegade are the veterans also vying for a market share, with the former the only option in the category with all-wheel-drive standard. The Kia Soul and Nissan Juke are solid choices for buyers seeking funky alternatives.

The Mazda CX-3 stands out via its versatility. Equipped with a 4-cylinder engine, the CX-3 has a six-speed automatic transition. Transmission with a manual-shifting sport mode. The car’s high safety marks begin with the Mazda Connect Infotainment system. It includes a dash-mounted 7-inch monitor with a rearview camera, multi-function dial control and voice command.

Bluetooth-capable phone, audio streaming, USB port, push-button start tilt/telescope steering wheel, cruise control, keyless entry and power windows/ locks are standard. A feature called Smart City Brake Support automatically applies the brakes when needed at under 19 mph.

The top-line Grand Touring model takes the Mazda CX-3 to a new level and makes it a top value. It’s loaded with optional equipment sometimes not found in cars that cost twice as much. Consider: LED headlights, fog lights, navigation, Bose audio, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and all-wheel drive.

The Premium Package ($710) features six items, including a heating steering wheel, power-adjustable driver’s seat, radar-based cruise control, driver’s seat memory, traffic sign recognition and driver’s power lumbar support.

The Mazda doesn’t have much backseat room. But that’s an inherent trait for the class. The CX-3 has sporty exterior styling, with a narrow cabin and an extended front. There’s 12.4 cubic feet of storage behind the back seat, but 44 cubic feet with the rear bench seat down.

For a singular or two-person family without children or pets and not much to haul, the upgraded Mazda is at the top of its segment. Shortcomings aside, it’s fun to drive, nimble, priced right and maintains its value in the resale market.

James Raia, a freelance writer based in Sacramento, California, specializes in sports and lifestyle topics. He publishes the website theweeklydriver.com.