|58.8||Max Cargo Space (cu.ft.)||42.7|
|39.3||Rear Legroom (in)||35|
|Available||Leather Seats||Not Available|
Throughout the past couple of decades, the automotive industry has experienced numerous changes. One of the most notable of these changes is a substantial rise in the popularity of SUVs, and today a large number of manufacturers have multiple SUV models in their catalogs. This is one of the most competitive segments in the market - especially when it comes to the relatively new subcompact SUV. This year, two of these small SUVs from Honda and Mazda have been making headlines and have gained the attention of car shoppers. With the latest competition being the 2021 Honda HR-V vs 2021 Mazda CX-3, both manufacturers are giving it their all this year, and the results have been fascinating.
Both the new HR-V and CX-3 are highly competitive. They share a host of similarities and ultimately cater to the same type of driver. Mazda chose to go forward with a simpler approach in regards to trim availability as the Sport trim is the only available option for the lineup. This trim has a starting price of a bit under $20,640, which is a bit lower than the $21,020 starting price for the HR-V.1 However, unlike the Mazda CX-3, the Honda HR-V comes in a variety of different trims, starting with LX. Following this trim is Sport, EX (which integrates the Honda Sensing safety suite), and EX-L (which boasts a premium interior with leather upholstery). Although some may find the single option on the CX-3 more tempting, it ultimately means the driver will be missing out on the customizability to build the perfect vehicle for your needs
Although both the HR-V and CX-3 have entirely different powertrains, both vehicles are very comparable in this regard. The 2021 Honda HR-V includes a 1.8L 4-cylinder regardless of which trim is opted for. This engine is smaller than the 2.0L 4-cylinder that comes equipped on the CX-3, but both vehicles perform quite similarly. With the 1.8L engine, the HR-V can produce 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque, while the 2.0L in the CX-3 produces 148 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque. Not only are these numbers too similar to make a significant impact, but when taking the lower price tag of the HR-V into consideration, the power reduction is minimal at best.
The CX-3 pairs its engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the HR-V pairs its engine with an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) that many drivers may prefer. The reason why some drivers would prefer a CVT over a traditional transmission comes down to efficiency. CVTs have a flexible gear ratio that produces a smoother ride while burning less fuel and ultimately being more environmentally-friendly.
Fuel efficiency is also rather similar across the board. The 1.8L 4-cylinder in the HR-V gets EPA-estimated ratings of 28 MPG city and 34 MPG highway in a front-wheel-drive configuration, while AWD models get 27 MPG city and 31 MPG highway.2 On the other end, the Mazda CX-3’s ratings also differ depending on front or all-wheel-drive configurations. With front-wheel drive equipped, the CX-3 receives ratings of 29 MPG city and 34 MPG highway while AWD models will get 27 MPG city and 32 MPG highway.
These ratings are not only highly comparable to the HR-V, but the HR-V also contains a larger fuel-tank capacity of 13.2 gallons. This ultimately means fewer stops at the gas station when compared against the 12.7 gallons on the CX-3. Even worse, the less-efficient AWD CX-3 gets an even smaller tank of only 11.9 gallons. Ultimately, those in the market for either of these SUVs should opt for the HR-V, thanks to its comparable specs and lower cost.
When looking inside both the HR-V and the CX-3, there are certainly a few noticeable similarities. Firstly, both vehicles support a maximum seating capacity of five passengers. However, the interior dimensions show that five passengers are likely to fit more comfortably inside the HR-V rather than the CX-3. The headroom measurements for the front and rear rows are dependent on which trim the customer has purchased, with LX and Sport measuring in at 39.5 inches of front headroom and 38.3 inches in the rear. The sunroof in the EX and EX-L slightly decrease the front-row headroom to 37.7 inches, but the rear-row measurements remain the same.
Compared to the Mazda CX-3, which grants 38.4-inches of headroom in the front and 37.2-inches in the rear row, the HR-V comes out ahead. This trend continues with legroom measurements as the HR-V grants 39.3 inches of rear legroom regardless of which trim the customer opts for, which is a considerable upgrade over the 35 inches of rear legroom found in the CX-3. If you want a small SUV that can actually fit five passengers comfortably, then the Honda HR-V is the obvious choice.
Those who opt for the Honda HR-V will be treated to a generous amount of cargo space, far more than in the CX-3. As with most SUVs, the driver can maximize their cargo capacity by folding down the rear-row of seats in both vehicles. Whether it’s for road trips or general travel, drivers will prefer the 58.8 cu ft. of cargo space in the HR-V with the rear-seats folded down over the CX-3’s 42.7 cu ft. This is a substantial increase in cargo space, and the HR-V also has the advantage with the rear-row sitting upright. In that configuration, there is up to 24.3 cu ft. in the HR-V and only 17.8 cu ft. in the CX-3.
Both interiors can be considered high quality in terms of their general make-up and designs, but additions such as heated leather seating and an auto-dimming rearview mirror on the HR-V set the Honda apart. Both the CX-3 and HR-V feature an infotainment center with a 7-inch screen, albeit the HR-V only includes this on the top three trims. Not only are these infotainment centers designed for media playback, but both vehicles also feature the likes of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well. These features grant both the HR-V and the CX-3 a wide range of connectivity features, matching many flagship lineups that both vehicles aim to compete against.
SUVs are well-regarded as automobiles that are equally as reliable as they are versatile. Honda and Mazda have both ensured their offerings are equipped with a respectable amount of safety features. For owners of the Honda HR-V, opting for the higher-tier trims EX and EX-L is the best way to maximize its value as they bring the Honda Sensing safety suite standard. As there is only one trim for the CX-3, there is a standard arrangement of safety features, but it doesn’t quite hold up to the sheer volume of features seen in the Honda Sensing safety suite.
The Mazda CX-3 comes equipped with a rearview camera along with a lane departure warning system that notifies the driver of unintentional lane switching. Both of these features are also offered within Honda’s safety suite, but the HR-V rearview camera offers multiple camera view angles for greater safety. Automatic emergency braking along with blindspot monitoring is present on both vehicles, with the HR-V supporting it under the name of Honda LaneWatch. Finally, both vehicles offer adaptive cruise control. Instead of only maintaining a set speed like traditional cruise control, adaptive cruise control will calculate the distance between the driver and any vehicle ahead and adjust the speed accordingly.
But while the Mazda set of safety features ends there, Honda has a few more tricks to protect you on the road. Honda Sensing includes a road departure mitigation system in addition to its lane departure warning so the driver will be assisted back into their lane. The CX-3 suite only has basic lane departure warning. Further, AutoBeam headlights are also present on HR-V models with Honda Sensing equipped, which will dynamically adjust headlight brightness depending on the road visibility.