Test Drive: 2022 Mazda MX-30 EV
2022 Mazda MX-30 EV Premium Plus
Class: Electric Vehicle
Miles driven: 302
Battery capacity: 35.5 kWh
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B-|
|Power and Performance||B-|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||143 horsepower|
|Engine Type||Electric motor|
EPA-estimate MPGe: 98 city/85 hwy/92 combined
EPA-estimated driving range: 100 miles
Consumer Guide range estimate (ideal conditions): 100+ miles
Base price: $36,480 (not including $1175 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Soul Red Crystal 3-tone paint ($995)
Price as tested: $38,650
The great: Nimble handling with pleasant overall ride quality; sporty, upscale look and feel
The good: Unique styling inside and out; pleasant everyday driving manners
The not so good: Subpar driving range; unconventional rear-hinged rear “half doors” are awkward and inconvenient in parking lots; cramped rear seat; only available in California at launch
More MX-30 EV price and availability information
The new-for-2022 MX-30 is Mazda’s first pure-electric vehicle, and frankly, we’re not quite sure what to make of it. It’s a crossover mixed with a sports car mixed with an eco-conscious EV—which could be a tasty concoction, if properly blended. However, the MX-30’s subpar driving range and “different for the sake of different” features work against it.
Size-wise, the MX-30 has the same wheelbase and is about the same length overall as Mazda’s CX-30 subcompact crossover (the two share a core platform). Both vehicles are on the larger side of the subcompact SUV category, and both have a “bobtailed” look, with a short rear overhang and a rakish roofline with a steeply sloped rear window. However, instead of the CX-30’s traditional four-door layout, the MX-30 has an unconventional door arrangement—its normal front doors are supplemented by abbreviated rear-hinged rear doors.
These “half doors” are often maddening; they can’t be opened independently of the front doors, and the front doors can’t be opened by a passenger sitting in the back seat. Believe me, this is a real headache when you’re dropping your second-grader and fourth-grader off at school. The half doors are also a pain in parking lots. Unless there is at least one unoccupied parking space next to the MX-30, opening both the front and rear doors to allow back-seat passengers to exit usually fences you in awkwardly between the doors and the vehicle in the adjacent parking spot—you have to close one of the doors again to get out of the “fence,” then open and close it again once everyone has “escaped.” Super tedious. On the plus side, the doors open a full 90 degrees, and the door aperture itself is nice and wide with both doors open. And, the MX-30’s rear seats are pretty cramped anyway, so you probably won’t be hauling passengers back there often.
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Style takes precedence over cargo volume too, as the swoopy rear roofline cuts into maximum cargo-carrying capacity. The rear seat backs fold forward to create more cargo room, of course, but you’ll need to move the front seats fairly far forward—at least temporarily—so the rear seat backs can fold without hitting the front seat backs.
The MX-30’s interior layout will be familiar to anyone who’s driven a late-model Mazda, but it’s been dressed up with slick concept-car-style design touches (such as a “floating” center console) that seem to be mandatory for pure EVs these days. The cabin is trimmed with “sustainable” trim materials—natural cork on the center console and the backsides of the door pulls, and a grey-heather felt material on the door panels—that lend an eco-friendly look.
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There’s respectable space in the driver’s seat, even for big and tall folks. The prominent center console intrudes on knee space for long-legged drivers, but it’s padded so it’s not uncomfortable when your knee bumps it or rests against it. The clean, uncluttered instrument panel is easy to see, but the unusual pattern of the gear selector takes some getting used to. Park is a separate detent to the left of the rest of the shifter pattern, which runs through reverse, neutral, and then drive.
The infotainment system is controlled by Mazda’s familiar Commander dial control knob. It’s not our favorite interface, but it’s relatively intuitive once you get acclimated to it—and its location on the high-mounted center console was ergonomically agreeable for us. We’re also not big fans of “virtual” climate controls, which we often find to be finicky and non-responsive, but the MX-30’s touchscreen climate controls work OK—and there are redundant physical buttons for fan speed, temperature, and the front and rear defrosters.
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The MX-30’s acceleration is perfectly adequate, with the immediate, seamless throttle response characteristic of most modern EVs—but almost all of pure-electric rivals are notably quicker. In keeping with Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” image, there is a piped-in artificial energetic “engine” sound—to our ears, the noise has a hint of internal-combustion-engine character, and we’d wager it was the subject of much internal discussion/debate at Mazda. The handling is respectably athletic as well—the MX-30 lives up to Mazda’s reputation for building vehicles with a lithe, engaging driving personality. Still, we found the Mini Cooper SE (a short-range EV with a more-traditional sporty-hatchback layout) crisper and more fun to drive.
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And then there’s the MX-30’s subpar range. The EPA driving-range estimate is just 100 miles on a full charge, which would have been competitive seven or so years ago. In 2022, that number is at the back of the pack. Almost all the rest of the mainstream-brand 2022 electric vehicles offer at least 200 miles or range—and most of them can go 250 miles or more.
The MX-30 went on sale late last year in California, and its availability is scheduled to expand to other states during the 2022 calendar year. If the MX-30’s range and ergonomic quirks aren’t deal-breakers for you, the starting prices are comfortably under $40K, and we suspect Mazda dealers will be willing to bargain. Also, Mazda says it is planning to offer a version of the MX-30 with a range-extending rotary engine in limited numbers for 2022, but at this point hasn’t offered details—such as what the driving range of the range-extended MX-30 will be.
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Since one of the definitions of consensus is “general agreement or harmony,” then what we’ve got here is a consensus. Pretty much what Damon liked about the Mazda MX-30 I do too. The things he criticized I’d complain about as well—only I think he let the infotainment system off a little too easy. I really hated it. If there’s such a disease as euroenvyitis, then Mazda’s got a severe case.
The really interesting thing is the decision Mazda made about the vehicle’s operating range. The MX-30 might be the first “retro” EV: It brought back that old range-anxiety feeling that I haven’t felt driving an electric car or truck in a couple of years or more. Like in the “good old days” it became prudent to hook up to the Consumer Guide Supreme World Headquarters Level 2 charger after any round trip between home and work because at about 57 miles for such a jaunt I wouldn’t get a second full one out of the same charge. Even the car itself gets a little nervous—during the longer of my two stints, an 86.1-mile drive, a “High Voltage Battery Is Low” alert popped up at the 31-mile-range/31-percent-charge point. That said, based on indicated remaining range and charge levels, it seemed that it might be possible to exceed the official estimate of 100 miles, though not by much.
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Considering how much advancement there’s been in EV capability, it seems odd that Mazda would make its first electric one that comes across as so retrograde. Its solution to relieve range anxiety is to let MX-30 buyers borrow a gas-powered vehicle for a limited number of days during the first three years of ownership, so when they find they really need a car that can get them beyond local-errand range, they have to arrange for, pick up, and drop off what amounts to a rental. Is this the sales pitch? “Mazda MX-30: The car for people who hardly drive.”
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2022 Mazda MX-30 EV Gallery
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