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New Mazda SUV goes small

2016 CX-3 goes on sale later next year

LOS ANGELES – Joining a recent trend toward making smaller SUVs, Mazda unveiled its all new CX-3 SUV Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Like the larger CX-5, the new 2016 CX-3 is designed to seat five people with room in the back for a little bit of cargo. However, it's all contained in a smaller package for better fuel efficiency.

The CX-3 comes in about 10 inches shorter than the CX-5 (168.3 inches for the CX-3 compared to 178.7 for the CX-5), it's about 3 inches narrower (69.5 inches instead of 72.4), and the roof is more than 4 inches lower than the CX-5 (61 inches tall vs. 65.7 inches).

Keeping a clean design with those tighter measurements can sometimes be a challenge. Mazda has tackled that in the CX-3 with a long hood that's accentuated by a character line running over the front fenders and down into the side doors to emphasize the length. In the back, the little side windows behind the doors has been smoked out to give a wrap-around look that also accentuates the length. Inside, front passengers are greeted with a clean dashboard layout featuring a 7-inch touchscreen at the top of the dash. The driver can even have a little heads-up screen that shows information like speed without looking down. The rear seats of the CX-3 are positioned a little higher than the front seats. Mazda says this helps to give rear passengers a better view of the road ahead, and makes it easier to have conversations with front passengers. It also means headroom might be a little tight in the back seats for tall people.

The CX-3 will go on sale in Japan early in 2015 and will roll out to other markets later in the year. When it hits U.S. shores, the little SUV will join a growing list of subcompact SUVs like the Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V.