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2020 Mazda CX-30 Review: Resetting the crossover balance

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Somewhere along the line crossovers turned into “just smaller SUVs,” and the 2020 Mazda CX-30 isn’t willing to go along with that. The segment trend toward practicality and an elevated driving position has been gradual but insidious, with dynamics at best an afterthought if not forgotten altogether. Question is, can the CX-30 strike a better balance?

There’s not much space in-between the CX-3 and CX-5 crossovers, but Mazda has decided to fill it nonetheless with the CX-30. The automaker would’ve called it the CX-4, in fact, had that name not already been used in China.

Mazda’s design language is a familiar thing these days, but it’s no less handsome. The CX-30 takes what we’ve seen on the CX-3 and CX-5 and gives it a slightly butcher refresh, with chunky black cladding around the front and rear lower spoilers, around the wheel arches, and along the side sills. There’s a splash of chrome in the kohl-like lining under the headlamps and grille, but generally the look is more purposeful than that of its siblings.

The side trim in particular helps to shrink down the sheet metal of the doors, visually at least. From some angles the CX-30 almost looks like a jacked-up Mazda3. Funnily enough, that’s pretty much what it actually is.

Both sedan/hackback and crossover share the same platform – the CX-3, in contrast, uses that of the Mazda2 – though Mazda juggles how it uses the space for the front and rear seats. Those in the front get the best deal, while the three-seater bench in the back is really scaled more for two adults by width. If you happen to have three narrow, long-legged friends, they’ll be okay.

As for the trunk, that starts out at 20.2 cubic feet with the rear seat-backs up, and 45.2 cubic feet with them down. That’s about 10 cu.ft. less than Mazda’s key rivals from Honda and Nissan, but then the HR-V and Rogue Sport don’t come close to the CX-30’s aesthetic charms. You pay your money and you pack your luggage to suit.

There’s a lot to like inside as well. If I’ve had a criticism about recent Mazda interiors it’s that they can often look the part but not quite feel it; the CX-30 doesn’t make that pratfall.

Again, Mazda3 drivers will see a lot they recognize here, and that’s no bad thing. Mazda’s designers aren’t afraid of leaving swathes of clean space, and leaving things like leather on the dashboard and the pleasingly tactile physical controls to reassure your fingers and gaze. Only the glossy black plastic in the tunnel around the transmission shifter feels a little underwhelming.

On the tech side, there’s an 8.8-inch display nestled in a bay on the top of the dashboard. Mazda positioned it high enough so that it’s just below your eye-line as you look at the road ahead, even if that does also mean it’d be too far to comfortably reach. That doesn’t matter, though, as it’s not a touchscreen.

Instead you use a rotary controller in the center console. Mazda’s argument is that it’s less distracting to use, though I’m not sure I agree. With us fully trained on touchscreens at this point, reaching out to jab at an icon or button is a whole lot quicker than trying to scroll through to it, particularly when you’re attempting to navigate Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, which are standard on the Select trim and above.

That’ll set you back $23,900 (plus $1,100 destination) and gets you an 8-speaker audio system, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, leatherette seats, and dual-zone climate control with rear vents. The entry-level CX-30, in contrast, is $21,900 and of that list only gets the 8-speakers, cruise control, and keyless entry, plus you’ll sit on cloth. The $26,200 Preferred trim throws in heated front seats with 8-way power and 2-position memory for the driver, along with a Bose 12-speaker audio system.

Finally, the 2020 CX-30 Premium starts at $28,200. It gets leather, paddle shifters, a power lift gate, and Mazda’s signature LED lighting with adaptive headlamps. You also get to look at a color head-up display, in addition to the 7-inch driver display that all trims have. Unfortunately there are no more USB ports than the front two all trims make do with, leaving rear passengers out of luck.

Shared across the line-up is a single engine, Mazda’s 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G with 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard too, as is front-wheel drive with all-wheel drive a $1,400 option.

On paper, the CX-30’s 0-60 mph time of around 8 seconds drops it somewhere in the middle of the compact crossover pack. From behind the wheel, though, you’d not think it. Mazda has always punched above its weight when it comes to chassis dynamics, and the CX-30 keeps its Mazda3 cousin’s combination of poise and eagerness.

Turn on Sport mode and the transmission keeps things ticking right where the four-pot delivers its best. This isn’t the shock-and-awe method of throwing power at the situation, the crossover instead relying on precise and beautifully-weighted steering, just the right mix of compliance and firmness in the corners, and predictable brakes. It leaves the CX-30 as much at home on highway jaunts as it is nipping around corners, and if you had assumed more practicality would come at the cost of driver engagement, Mazda is here to tell you that’s not the case.

As for economy, Mazda says the FWD model will do 25 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined. Opt for the AWD and that dips to 24 mpg, 31 mpg, and 26 mpg respectively. My time behind the wheel of the CX-30 AWD suggested it wasn’t hard to hit those numbers.

2020 Mazda CX-30 Verdict

I’ll confess, my first inclination was to deride the CX-30 as a range-padding exercise, Mazda following the example of automakers like Mercedes and BMW and leaving no gap in the line-up unfilled. As I waved it goodbye, however, I was about ready to crown it king of Mazda’s crossovers.

The tweener sizing means it’s big enough for family duties but not so large as to feel profligate or unwieldy. The cabin feels the part, the styling hits the mark, and it’s priced competitively (though I’d skip straight to Select trim at the very least). Most important, the experience behind the wheel is a reminder that crossovers were meant to combine practicality with car-like driving dynamics. Too often it feels like automakers have sacrificed the latter: the 2020 Mazda CX-30 nudges the scales back in a way that keener drivers will appreciate.

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Today’s Wordle Answer #382 – July 6, 2022 Solution And Hints

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The answer to Wordle’s July 6, 2022, edition is the word fluff. When it comes to an etymological analysis, there isn’t much meat to the puzzle here. A close predecessor is the word floow (also spelled as flue), which refers to a wooly substance. There’s a Flemish term called vluwe and a French word velu meaning hairy or shaggy that are said to be earlier variants of the word. Some say that the world fluff is an imitative modification of the word floow, which describes the act of puffing a light substance. Another theory is that fluff came out from the merger of flue and puff.

There’s also a movie that was released in 2020 by the name “Fluff,” but you haven’t likely seen it unless names like John Pallotta, Wesley Green, Brian Anthony Wilson, and Gina Martino ring a bell. Fluff sandwich is also a delicacy in the New England region; it gets its name from the light filling that is predominantly marshmallow with jelly or peanut butter, and is colloquially referred to as the fluffernutter.

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Samsung’s Foldable Phones Could Get Much Cheaper In The Near Future

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During the restructuring of its smartphone branding scheme, Samsung adopted the A letter for its mid-range phones, reserving M for entry-level devices (spoiler: the three phone families now spell S, A, M). The Galaxy A series usually has some resemblance to flagship Galaxy S phones, particularly in design, but often skimps out on other hardware components like the processor, memory, and cameras. According to an insider source (via ETnews), Samsung will be using the same tactic to bring down its foldable prices to a more agreeable level.

The report doesn’t say which corners will allegedly be cut to reach that lower price point, though it does mention only having core functions installed. If there is one thing that Samsung can’t skimp on, however, it is the durability of the foldable phone and the materials it will use. If a cheap foldable phone with an already fragile display is easily damaged, it will only serve to scare potential buyers away rather than increase confidence in the product line.

Samsung will reportedly target a price of 1 million KRW, which is roughly $770 USD and therefore considerably cheaper than even the Galaxy Z Flip 3 model’s price tag. This won’t be happening anytime soon, though, as the pieces are unlikely to fall into place until 2024 — presumably when foldable displays themselves have become less expensive to make. Samsung’s timeline might also be influenced by Apple’s foldable plans, as the Korean company will most likely want to have its brand well-established in that market before the first foldable iPhone or iPad launch.

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This New HTC Tablet Is A Missed Opportunity

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The fact that the HTC A101 is an entry-level budget tablet is evident from the design itself. Take, for example, its massive bezels, making it seem a bit dated. The display used on this tablet measures 10.1-inches across and has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. While the HTC A101 gets a respectable 8GB of RAM, the processor used here is the UNISOC T618 chip. Designed by UNISOC, this SoC is an entry-level chipset that is based on a 12nm manufacturing process. Given its credentials, do not expect blazing fast performance on this tablet. The model features 128GB of onboard storage and packs the option to add a microSD card, as well.

The camera setup on the A101 includes a 12MP primary rear-facing camera and a 2MP ultrawide camera. HTC has also thrown in a decent 5MP front-facing camera. Powering the tablet is a 7,000 mAh battery that does not support fast charging. On the software side, this tablet will ship with Android 11 at launch. Clearly, the HTC A101 is an entry-level device that targets people who do not have a huge amount of money to splurge on a tablet. 

Unfortunately for HTC, the advent of fiercely competitive Chinese smartphone brands has blurred the lines between mid-tier and low-end devices. This means that consumers of late have been getting really good-looking, well-specced products for low prices. With the HTC A101 tablet, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Our perception of the product may change in case HTC decides to price the device competitively, but unfortunately, the company has yet to reveal this rather crucial piece of information.

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