2019 Kia Niro vs. 2019 Mazda CX-3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Niro (except FE/LX/S Touring) offers optional Parking Assist to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Compared to metal, the Niro’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mazda CX-3 has a metal gas tank.

Both the Niro and the CX-3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Niro comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The CX-3’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Niro 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Mazda covers the CX-3. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the CX-3 ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

There are over 32 percent more Kia dealers than there are Mazda dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Niro’s warranty.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Niro’s reliability 30 points higher than the CX-3.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 28 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 22nd, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 22 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 14th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia third in reliability. Mazda is ranked 12th.

Engine

The Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 49 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 146) than the CX-3’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Niro gets better fuel mileage than the CX-3:

 

 

Niro

CX-3

 

FWD

FE

52 city/49 hwy

29 city/34 hwy

4 cyl./Auto

 

LX/EX

51 city/46 hwy

n/a

 

Touring

46 city/40 hwy

n/a

 

AWD

 

n/a

27 city/32 hwy

4 cyl./Auto

Regenerative brakes improve the Niro’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Niro’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The CX-3 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Kia Niro higher (7 out of 10) than the Mazda CX-3 (3 to 7). This means the Niro produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the CX-3 every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Niro offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The CX-3 doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Niro S Touring/Touring’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CX-3 (225/45R18 vs. 215/60R16).

The Niro S Touring/Touring’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the CX-3 Grand Touring/Touring’s 50 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Kia Niro has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Mazda CX-3 has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Niro has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The CX-3’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Niro has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Niro flat and controlled during cornering. The CX-3’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Niro’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the CX-3 (106.3 inches vs. 101.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Niro is 1.4 inches wider in the front and 2.1 inches wider in the rear than the track on the CX-3.

Passenger Space

The Niro has 13.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CX-3 (100.9 vs. 87.6).

The Niro has 1.7 inches more front headroom, 1.4 inches more front hip room, 2.5 inches more front shoulder room, 1.9 inches more rear headroom, 2.4 inches more rear legroom and 4.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the CX-3.

Cargo Capacity

The Niro has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the CX-3 with its rear seat up (19.4 vs. 12.4 cubic feet). The Niro has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the CX-3 with its rear seat folded (54.5 vs. 44.5 cubic feet).

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Niro easier. The Niro’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 29 inches, while the CX-3’s liftover is 30.6 inches.

The Niro’s cargo area is larger than the CX-3’s in every dimension:

 

Niro

CX-3

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

31.8”/64”

27.8”/58”

Max Width

48.2”

n/a

Min Width

41”

39.4”

Height

36”

26.6”

Ergonomics

The Niro Touring’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The CX-3 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Niro and the CX-3 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Niro is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The CX-3 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Niro’s standard front power windows open with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The CX-3’s front passenger window doesn’t open automatically. The Niro EX/S Touring/Touring’s front power windows open fully with one touch of the switches, and its driver’s window also automatically closes.

The Niro has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The CX-3 only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

When the Niro with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The CX-3’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Niro Touring keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The CX-3 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Niro’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The CX-3 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the Niro and the CX-3 offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Niro EX/S Touring/Touring has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The CX-3 doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The Niro (except FE/LX/S Touring) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Kia Niro and the Mazda CX-3, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Niro first among small SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The CX-3 isn’t in the top three.

The Kia Niro outsold the Mazda CX-3 by 67% during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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