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Mazda CX-3 vs CX-5 – Bigger the better?

Mazda CX-3 vs CX-5 – Bigger the better? For most, the natural answer to the title would be “Yes.” But the automotive world is a special thing, and it is not so simple if we check all the details. Mazda produced fairly priced and reliable cars, but at the same time plain and boring ones for decades, while drifting without determination and clearly set goals on the market. Then things changed, new design language swept through the lineup, cabin materials and build quality were elevated sharply, and it started to rush to the premium part of the segments in which they were involved.

The CX-5 model was introduced in 2012, while new generation was revealed a few days ago, it hasn’t hit the dealer lots yet, so we about to count on still present old one, while the current CX-3 model was introduced in 2015, so new one is not in sight.

Mazda CX-3 vs CX-5

Mazda CX-3 vs CX-5 LOOKS

In this case, bigger is not the better. When CX-5 was introduced, it brought along “Soul in Motion” design language, and it looked well, but only until the little brother came to play. It suddenly starts to appear dull compared to the more aggressive and dynamic lines of CX-3. Muscular stance in a small package and floating roof makes little Japanese highly desirable and posh, while bigger one starts to remind us of previous Mazda times which everyone is trying to forget. Interestingly if we compared CX-3 to the just arriving new generation of CX-5, things would be exactly the opposite.


On the way to the premium segment materials quality and fit and finish are quite decent for both of them. Similar as VW, they aren’t there yet but are on the definitely good path. Naturally, bigger means more space and here significantly more. CX-5 can seat four adults in comfort, CX-3 not quite much. For front seats, don’t worry about CX-3, but the rear ones belong to a car in the subcompact segment, and there is not much more than you can ask from them.

Compared to the smaller rival, CX-5 features a cave not boot with 34/64 cubic feet, while CX-3’s pantry offers 12/44 cubic feet. And one more thing, similar as for the exterior, CX-3’s cabin looks interesting and trendy, with a leather accent on the dash and round air vents, leaving CX-5’s again with an uninspiring badge.

Mazda CX-3 vs CX-5 interior


Choice in the US is limited compared to Europe, but it will be easier for us to compare it. CX-3 has only one engine option, 2.0-liter unit rated at 146 hp, paired with six-speed manual or automatic and it is more than sufficient. It takes 8.1 seconds to 60 mph which is remarkable for this type of small SUV, while at the same time offering 29/34 (city/highway) mpg. CX-5 has 2.0-liter delivering 155 hp taking 8.5 seconds to 60 mph, which makes smaller brother faster and more nimble.

But there is another option with CX-5 and that is a 2.5-liter engine with 184 hp taking 7.7 seconds to 60 mph which makes it a decent figure for the segment, while overtaking CX-3. Surprisingly fuel efficiency is pretty close as CX-5, despite being bigger, offers ratings at 26/33 mpg.

Mazda CX-5 Gallery:


The price thing is obvious since our rivals here belong to different segments. CX-3 starts with $19,960 including automatic transmission, while CX-5 ask for $21,795 in manual mode. Automatic gearbox for CX-5 requires almost $2k more, and if the fully loaded price will touch $30k boundary, while packed CX-3 stops at $25k. Not so easy to dismiss the price difference, as you will agree.


You see now that things are not so simple, as may appear just from the title. CX-5 is bigger, more spacious and by that more comfortable. It is also faster, with a stronger engine and surprisingly its fuel economy is close to one of the CX-3. But it looks blank to smaller brother. CX-3 will bring different flavors to your life, it will make you posh and trendy, it will claim that you could afford much more, but purposely went for this.

It could save $5k and if your kids are small, or big and don’t want to travel with you anymore (puberty!), and all your friends have their own cars (which is almost always the case), give your life meaning and go for the cool one.

Mazda CX-3 Gallery

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