2022 Mazda MX-30 Review:Driving Impressions

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Oct 04, 2021

Is Mazda Going Electric? - Find the best Mazda deals!

With the 2022 Mazda MX-30 electric vehicle (EV), the automaker is dipping its toes into the shallow end of the electric-vehicle pool.

A 5-passenger vehicle with unique “freestyle” doors, a sharply angled rear hatch, and a high-riding stance, the new 2022 Mazda MX-30 EV is tough to pin down. If you’re wondering, Mazda says it’s a crossover, though it comes only with front-wheel drive. It’s also the company’s first fully electric vehicle, setting the stage for the future electrification of the automaker’s lineup of cars and SUVs.

Mazda invited me to spend about 90 minutes with the new MX-30, driving the EV in Southern California’s Orange County area. My initial impressions follow. For more background and details about the vehicle, be sure to read our 2022 Mazda MX-30 preview article.

2022 Mazda MX-30 Price and Release Date - Find the best Mazda deals!

The Mazda MX-30 EV price makes it accessible, ranging from $33,470 for the standard trim to $36,480 for the MX-30 Premium Plus, plus a destination charge of $1,175. Factor in the maximum $7,500 federal tax credit and any state and local rebates and incentives, and the cost to you is much lower. Direct competitors include the Chevrolet BoltHyundai Kona ElectricKia Niro EV, Mini Cooper SE, and Nissan Leaf.

In California, where the Mazda MX-30 release date of October 14, 2021, will make it the first state where the EV is sold, buyers also get a $1,500 rebate. That means you can expect up to $9,000 in discounts (if you qualify for the maximum federal tax credit). Additionally, Mazda is offering a $500 charging credit through the ChargePoint network. Every MX-30 owner also gets ten days of complimentary loaner vehicles through an Elite Access Loaner Program for use during longer trips.

To gather these driving impressions, I drove a Mazda MX-30 Premium Plus carrying a sticker price of $39,100, including options and the destination charge.

Independent Expert Opinion: Interior Design, Comfort, and Utility - Find the best Mazda deals!

2022 Mazda MX-30 EV Soul Red Front Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Walking up to the new Mazda MX-30, I found it more appealing in person than in photos. The design approach is unlike any other Mazda, awkward and plain instead of elegant and dramatic—a situation perhaps forced by using an existing platform rather than a dedicated EV architecture.

Inside, Mazda goodness reigns supreme, making the MX-30 look and feel more expensive than it is. The test vehicle’s 8-way power-adjustable front seat provided an excellent driving position and featured leatherette bolsters with stylish cloth inserts made partly of recycled thread. Cork trim on the center console recalls Mazda’s origins as a cork manufacturer, and padding on the sides of the console prevents leg discomfort. Mazda uses recycled PET bottles to manufacture the door panels.

The rear seat is cramped, and the unusual freestyle side doors are challenging to use in tight parking situations. There are no air conditioning vents or USB ports in the back seat.

Storage is plentiful, especially in the tray under the console, and the trunk holds 21 cubic feet of cargo. Mazda does not supply a cargo capacity figure with the back seat folded down.

Independent Expert Opinion: Infotainment, Technology, and Safety - Find the best Mazda deals!

2022 Mazda MX-30 EV Interior Dashboard

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Mazda uses the same Mazda Connect infotainment system in the MX-30 that you’ll find in the automaker’s other models. That means it doesn’t offer a touchscreen display, occasionally requires too many twists and pushes of its control knob to access menus, and doesn’t have a natural-voice-recognition system that would solve both of those problems.

A 12-speaker Bose Centerpoint 2 premium sound system comes with Premium Plus trim, and it sounds great. The test vehicle also had a navigation system. All MX-30s include wired Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, and Mazda Connected Services.

New i-ActiveSense driving-assistance features debut on the MX-30. They include front cross-traffic warning and active blind-spot assistance. At one point during the test drive, while making a right turn onto a wide, multi-lane highway before a straggling motorist had finished crossing the intersection, the front cross-traffic warning system sounded an alert. It was not irritating.

Independent Expert Opinion: Driving the 2022 Mazda CX-30 EV - Find the best Mazda deals!

2022 Mazda MX-30 EV Soul Red Rear Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Like most people considering an electric vehicle, you want to know one thing: What is the range of the Mazda MX-30 electric? According to Mazda, it’s about 100 miles. That isn’t competitive, and Mazda knows it. That’s why the MX-30 EV has an attractive price, offers ten days of complimentary loaner vehicles for each of the first three years of ownership, and is marketed as a commuter car and local runabout.

Mazda builds the MX-30 on the same platform as the Mazda Mazda3 and Mazda CX-30. For the EV, the company has crammed in as much battery as will fit, 35.5 kWh worth. It powers a 107-kW front electric motor making 143 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty for the vehicle’s intended purpose.

One good thing about a small battery is that you can recharge the Mazda in less than 14 hours using a standard household wall outlet if you fully deplete it. Or you can use your $500 ChargePoint credit toward a Level 2 home charging station and significantly cut that time down. According to Mazda, the MX-30 EV is also compatible with 50-kW DC fast chargers and goes from a 20-percent charge to an 80-percent charge in 36 minutes.

Mazda knew the MX-30 EV had to deliver driving pleasure. And though it isn’t downright fast like many modern electrics are and doesn’t offer a one-pedal-driving function, it is nevertheless nimble and athletic. Even the brake-by-wire technology, which means the brake pedal works as an electronic sensor that activates the brakes, feels natural underfoot.

Adding 680 pounds of batteries to this platform lowers the center of gravity and alters the weight distribution from about 60:40 over the front wheels to 40:60 over the rear wheels, compared to the gas-powered CX-30. The MX-30 EV’s torsional rigidity also improves over the CX-30, and the electric motor doesn’t shake when driving on bumps as a gas engine does.

Mazda leveraged these qualities to improve its G-Vectoring Control technology. The MX-30 EV’s electronic GVC (e-GVC) acts faster and with greater effect, though it remains subtle and essentially undetectable. This, Mazda says, combined with the MX-30’s other inherent EV qualities, makes the steering, ride, and handling more enjoyable than in a CX-30.

Without driving them back-to-back on the same roads, it is impossible to assess whether that holds true or not. What I can say is the Mazda MX-30 EV is fun to drive, and the automaker has done a great job of masking, if not eliminating, the added sensation of battery heft that tends to introduce lots of bounce and chop to an electric vehicle’s ride quality.

As for real-world driving range, I started with 99 miles of indicated range, traveled 62 miles, and had 42 miles left when I parked and exited the MX-30 EV. Efficiency measured 3.1 miles per kWh.

Independent Expert Opinion of the 2022 Mazda MX-30 EV - Find the best Mazda deals!

Best used as a commuter vehicle and local runabout by people with predictable lives and schedules, the 2022 Mazda MX-30 EV offers appealing value, practicality, and aesthetics in an affordable EV. Ultimately, though, it is only the start on Mazda’s path to electrification.

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with over 25 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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