In 2023, subcompact SUVs are often the most affordable option on a dealership lot. That doesn’t mean they feel cheap. They can combine fun driving dynamics with flexible cargo space. And if you haven’t been car shopping in a few years, you might be surprised at the level of technology found in affordable cars. From screens that mirror your phone screen to parking sensors and lane-centering tech, many affordable subcompact SUVs are as high-tech as more expensive cars.
The Mazda CX-30 and Chevy Trailblazer are compelling options with similar price tags. Let’s take a look at them side-by-side.
2023 Mazda CX-30
Mazda makes good-looking cars that are fun to drive. The Mazda CX-30 is its least-expensive product, but it still brings the athleticism and upscale feel Mazda is known for. It’s more powerful than much of this class and offers balanced handling that’s fun on a winding road. Pricing starts at $22,950.
Mazda CX-30 Highlights
Standard all-wheel drive (AWD): When you think of SUVs, you probably think of grip in bad weather and on a muddy field. But many manufacturers keep their subcompact SUVs affordable by skimping on the AWD systems that used to define the class. Mazda doesn’t. Every CX-30 is AWD, regardless of price. All-wheel drive adds $2,000 to the price of most Trailblazers.
Fun driving dynamics: Mazda doesn’t skimp on driving tech, either. Torque vectoring — a system that brakes each wheel individually to help point the car into corners without much body roll — is standard on the CX-30. It’s not even available on the Trailblazer.
More power in every form: The CX-30’s standard engine makes 191 horsepower. The Trailblazer’s makes just 137. A Chevy dealer would probably point out here that you can upgrade the Trailblazer to a 155-horsepower engine instead. That helps but doesn’t really make these two equivalent. And a Mazda dealer could counter by pointing out that CX-30 buyers have an upgrade option, too. It’s good for 250 horsepower (with premium fuel — 227 with the regular stuff).
2023 Chevrolet Trailblazer
The 2023 Chevrolet Trailblazer takes a different approach to just about every aspect of SUV design. It looks rugged where the Mazda looks stylish. It uses tiny 3-cylinder engines to sip fuel (though its numbers are only slightly better than the CX-30’s). And it beats the CX-30 in a few key measurements that might make it more useful for some drivers. Prices start at $22,100.
Chevrolet Trailblazer Highlights
Proportioned for taller drivers: Subcompact SUVs aren’t unrealistic for many shoppers because they’re so small. The Trailblazer, though, beats the CX-30 on headroom and might make a better fit for some drivers.
More cargo space: Mazda’s curvy designs look pretty but limit cargo space. The Chevy’s more rugged, boxy look has a practical benefit — 5.1 more cubic feet of space behind the seats and 9.2 more with them folded. If you’re not sure a subcompact could carry what you need it to carry, your odds are better in this one.
Sporty-looking RS trim: Many observers find the CX-30 better looking, but Chevy’s RS trim brings that into question. It adds unique 18-inch high-gloss wheels, a contrast-color roof (red or black depending on paint shade), sharp-looking LED tail lamps, and the option of a blackout package that adds trendy black emblems and nameplates.
These two carry similar price tags, the same warranty coverage, and equal five-star safety scores.
Many drivers would be happy in a Chevrolet Trailblazer — especially those a little taller than average. Its rugged look and impressive cargo capacity are strong selling points. But without a doubt, the Mazda CX-30 is more fun to drive. Its added power gives more peace of mind, especially if your regular driving involves hills, mountains, or passing on the highway. And it has a dash of added driving fun that most subcompact SUVs can’t answer/
|2023 Mazda CX-30||2023 Chevrolet Trailblazer|
|Engine||2.5-liter 4-cylinder||1.2-liter 3-cylinder|
|Horsepower||191 hp @ 6,000 rpm||137 hp @ 5,000 rpm|
|Torque||186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm||162 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm|
|Fuel economy||26 city/33 highway/29 combined mpg||29 city/31 highway/30 combined mpg|
|Also Available||2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder||2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder; AWD|
|Basic Warranty||3 years/36,000 miles||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||5 years/60,000 miles||5 years/50,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety Rating||TBD||5 stars|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||104.4 inches||104 inches|
|Overall Length||173.0 inches||173.5 inches|
|Width||70.7 inches||71.2 inches|
|Height||61.7 inches||65.2 inches|
|Turning Diameter||37.3 feet||36.8 feet|
|Headroom, Front||38.1 inches||40.0 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||38.3 inches||38.4 inches|
|Legroom, Front||41.7 inches||40.9 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||36.3 inches||39.4 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||55.6 inches||55.4 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||53.6 inches||53.8 inches|
|Cargo Volume||20.2/45.2 cubic feet||25.3/54.4 cubic feet|