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2016 Mazda CX-3: Tiny crossover, big soul

The 2016 CX-3 is Mazda's new entry-level subcompact crossover, and it's got style, handling and interior quality to spare.

Chris Paukert
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
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The 2016 Mazda CX-3 is one of the sharper-looking cute utes on the road today.

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The 2016 Mazda CX-3's windshield is more aggressively raked than its classmates.

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The 2016 Mazda CX-3's large grille has some nice detailing.

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The 2016 Mazda CX-3's profile view shows off its narrow, tapered greenhouse.

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The 2016 Mazda CX-3's rear hatch isn't available with a power-close feature.

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The Mazda CX-3's rump is its most ordinary aspect, but it's still handsome.

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Mazda's familiar 'wing' badge has a place of honor on the CX-3's grille.

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LED cornering headlamps are an unusual feature in this vehicle class.

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Fog lamps on this Mazda CX-3 GT are very compact and nicely integrated.

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Uplevel CX-3 trims feature LED tail lamps.

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18-inch alloy wheels are unusually large for the CX-3's class.

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Black fender overriders butch up the exterior of the CX-3 and make it look more capable off-road than it is.

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Upper-trim CX-3s feature turn signal repeaters in the side mirrors.

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A subtle rear spoiler adds directional thrust to the CX-3's greenhouse and helps keeps the back window clean.

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The CX-3's dashboard looks great in this color scheme, and its slim design helps outward visibility.

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The CX-3's small leather-wrapped wheel feels good in one's hands.

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This upper-level GT features a prominent tachometer and too-small MPH readout.

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Mazda CX-3 seats are comfortable and supportive. Will the white leather stay clean?

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The CX-3's rear seats feature shingle-style headrests for better rear visibility when not in use.

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The CX-3's cargo area is just 12.4 cubic feet with the seats erect (44.5 cubes with the 60/40 split seats folded).

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CX-3 Grand Touring models feature single-zone automatic climate control.

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The Mazda CX-3 is one of the only cars in this class to feature adaptive cruise control.

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The way the doors and the dashboard marry on the CX-3 is nicely integrated.

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The CX-3's gearshift  is a traditional mechanical lever.

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GT-spec CX-3s have nice suede-like materials lining the doors.

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Round air vents feature an unusual amount of detailing for an inexpensive vehicle, and they  work well.

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The traction control and lane-departure switchgear is hidden from view by the steering wheel.

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The sport button makes a noticeable difference, particularly when it comes to transmission shift points.

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All Mazda CX-3s feature a tablet-style 7-inch touchscreen.

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Mazda Connect's rotary knob and buttons ape the control scheme of costlier infotainment systems.

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Mazda promises an expanded menu of apps is coming for the CX-3.

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This is Mazda Connect's home screen.

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The Mazda CX-3 features many different ways to get your music.

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Some settings for the CX-3's advanced safety systems can be toggled via Mazda Connect.

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Mazda's lane-departure warning system will beep or replicate the sound of a rumble strip to warn the driver.

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This 2.0-liter four cylinder required significant reengineering to fit under the hood of the CX-3.

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The Skyactiv 2.0-liter four is cleanly packaged, but there's not much room for do-it-yourself mechanics to work on it.

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The engine cover not only advertises Mazda's Skyactiv technology, it also muffles drivetrain noise.

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