The Mazda CX-30 launched last year, a well-aimed missile shot at the burgeoning sub-ish-compact SUV class. The little Mazda has an attractive starting price, great driving dynamics, and we therefore rank it highly in its class. However, the 2020 CX-30 had two key omissions, at least for the smartphone-savvy set: No Android Auto or Apple CarPlay integration on every trim. Considering everything from the CX-9 down to the Mazda 3 include those infotainment services—not to mention a host of competitors—some buyers might have been left wanting.
But for 2021 Mazda fixes all that, and is making both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard on all CX-30 models, including the base S trim. That’s good. What’s not so good is that both smartphone integrations must be manipulated via Mazda’s control knob, located on the center console between the front seats, rather than using touch inputs on the screen itself, as most CarPlay and Android Auto applications are in other vehicles.
Mazda says it’s safer to use the knob than it is leaning over and using a touchscreen, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are very touch-friendly features—the whole point is that the interfaces mimic the home screens on Android and iOS devices. So, while it’s great that the CX-30 now has CarPlay and Android Auto, it’d be nice if the driver and front passenger could choose to utilize touch controls while the car is moving while using the features.
Other than that, the CX-30 remains largely the same for 2021. It once gain comes standard with Mazda’s 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine making 186 horsepower and that same number in torque. Power is routed to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is available on every trim level for those who need a little extra grip in slippery conditions.
Stepping up through the trims nets you ever-better options such as blind-spot monitoring, 18-inch alloys, a moonroof, and eventually, a 12 speaker Bose sound system. The base price for the CX-30 remains exactly $23,000, but steadily goes up from there as you pick through pricier trims.