Ann Arbor weekend with the 2018 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD #DriveMazda

*Disclosure: I received the use of a vehicle for a week in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Last week, I did a ton of driving: I drove to Ann Arbor and back for a friend's bridal shower on Thursday and Friday, I drove to Clarklake, MI for her wedding that Saturday, and then to Ann Arbor to stay the night. That Sunday I drove back from Ann Arbor to Clawson, where I live. I also went to the Royal Oak beer stroll that Saturday, too, and to and from work and movie screenings that week.

I had the opportunity to try out the Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD (all-wheel drive) during that week, for seven days, and I ended up overall liking the car, which is a crossover. The Grand Touring gets about 29 miles per gallon, and I only refilled it once during the entire week.

Although the Mazda CX-3 didn't have as many bells and whistles as the last car I got to try out, it's much more reasonably priced: the Sport starts at $20,110, and the Grand Touring at $25,165. The SRP of this price was $29,615, because there were a lot of add-ons—many of which I highly recommend, such as the heated steering wheel and seats (so nice for when we had a cold snap this week!) and a feature that tells you the speed limit on every street you drive on.

I'll be honest and say that my first impression of the vehicle was that it has a small interior. My everyday car is a sedan, but is fairly large and comfortable, and I'm also not a small woman; I felt like there could be more space, but eventually I got used to it.

(to give you an idea: my mother, who is 5'0, sat in the car and also agreed with me on that ...)

Behind the steering wheel, there's this hologram-looking type thing that pops up when you are driving, and it tells you your speed, what the speed limit is on each street (and it actually changes when the limit changes—on one street near me, it literally changed once I passed a new speed limit sign, which was awesome), and any navigation directions you might need. I found this distracting at first, but over time came to like it. (see bottom pic in collage above)

The second row of seats has even less room, depending on how tall the people are in the front (and how far they push back their seats). The interior of the car, though, was gorgeous—white leather seats with burgundy on the door sides—which I really enjoyed, aesthetic-wise.

The cargo space is also limited; however, the second row of seating does fold down, so if you need more space, that would be your best bet. I did wish that there was a way to open the trunk either from the key fob or from the interior of the car—the only way to do it is to find the button on the bottom of the trunk area, and push that, which then opens it.

I will say that this car was fun to drive—I'd even go so far to say it's "zippy" (or it goes zoom zoom, as Mazda would probably say!). It handles much like my primary vehicle, even though its technically a crossover, and was very easy for me to adapt to, versus an SUV.

For highway driving, I also really enjoyed the "i-ACTIVESENSE package," which means that when you set it on cruise control, your job is literally to only stay within the lines: it can sense when other cars are in front of you, and how far away they are, and it adjusts your speed accordingly. The car also beeps at you if you go over the lines, which I found helpful, but you can turn it off if that feature annoys you.

In addition, the car has lights on the side mirror to alert you when someone is in your lane; if you try to switch lanes and someone is in your blind spot, it will also alert you, and same for when you are backing up and someone is behind you. Definitely helpful features.

I used the navigation all weekend as well, and overall it was fine. You can either input an actual address, or search for nearby landmarks (ie: Meijer in Royal Oak, MI). However, on the way to Ann Arbor, it did tell me to go down a local road that ended up being closed, so I had to re-route myself.

The Grand Touring AWD also had a moonroof (another upgrade) and a great entertainment system: you could choose from AM/FM radio, Sirius XM, or Pandora. I was able to sync my Pandora app on my phone with the car, and listen to that on my travels. As you can see in the picture (one above this one), there are also controls for this in between the driver's seat and passenger seat, which is nice if the passenger wanted to change the channel or switch between entertainment options.

The car has a Sport mode too, which I tried out: I'm probably oversimplifying, but it made the engine louder, and more like a sports car. I mostly drove the car in non-Sport mode.

Overall, for the money, I'd recommend this car: it's a fun ride, and the upgrades are definitely worth the price. The main positives for me were some of these upgrades (the heated steering wheel + heated seats, the cruise control features, and the sportiness of the car). The main negatives were the small passenger area and cargo space, and that I couldn't open the trunk from my key fob; however, overall these are small things that can be overlooked.

And I forgot to mention that the car has a push-button start and all-wheel drive—which would be great for snowy Michigan winter.

Have you ever driven, or do you own, a Mazda? If so, what are some of your favorite features in it?

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