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Best Mileage Crossovers: Top 11 Fuel-Efficient New Crossover SUVS

9. Mazda CX-3: Frugal fun

Base-price range: $20,840-$27,120
EPA fuel-economy rating: 29/35/31 mpg city/highway/combined 2wd, 27/32/29 awd

Introduced for model-year 2016, this little four-door jumps into the burgeoning subcompact-crossover class and lands near the top for looks, handling, and fuel economy. Tight rear-seat space and subpar cargo room are tradeoffs for that fetching body shape. But young urbanites are likely to find more appeal here than in more staid rivals, such as the Chevrolet Trax and Honda CR-V (leaving the Jeep Renegade to adventure-image seekers and the Nissan Juke to fringe tastes). The CX-3 snares the class-mileage trophy with help from Mazda’s holistic Skyactiv design approach, which emphasizes light weight and powertrain efficiency.

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Base Sport, midlevel Touring and top-trim Grand Touring models are offered, all with a choice of front-wheel drive, or for an additional $1,250, all-wheel drive. The sole engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, the only transmission a six-speed automatic. The 146 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque is slightly below par even for the modest standards of this class. But no rival weighs less, and the CX-3 moves along smartly enough, aided by the throttle-sharpening Sport mode standard on every model and, on the Grand Touring, by the extra revs you can dial up with steering-column paddle shifters. The engine is loud and coarse at high rpm, though. But there’s rear design flair here, inside, and out. And sharp steering and an eagerness to tackle turns gives the CX-3 a playful sportiness to go along with its fuel frugality.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]