Little crossovers are absolutely everywhere. Then came these three new contenders from Fiat, Honda and Mazda and picking between them is tough.
Aside from the Nissan Juke and perhaps the Mini Countryman, they all sort of run together. That’s due in no small part that all of these lifted superminis occupy roughly the same footprint. So when the Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 all showed up at the LA Auto Show this year, the comparisons were inevitable. And the similarities made them blur together a bit.
They all have quality interiors, which is surprising. Mazda continues to impress and have a minimalist look that’s well-finished, while Honda fitted the HR-V with something that’s actually more attractive than what goes into some of its larger vehicles. And then there’s the 500X, which amazingly doesn’t feel as unsatisfying inside as other small Fiats and Chryslers. I’d have to go with the Mazda on this, but only because I like the Audi-like look. Your tastes may vary.
The Mazda also wins me over on the exterior styling. It’s sharp and not trying to be anything else. The 500’s looks translate to the larger 500X well, but it breaks no new ground. The HR-V, meanwhile, looks more Acura than Honda – not that it’s exciting, though.
Honda does, however, score big on practicality. It may not be as airy as a Fit, but it feels downright vast for this class of crossover. The Fiat and Mazda are fine up front, but everything else isn’t packaged as well as the HR-V.
I do applaud Fiat’s use of colors and materials to liven up the 500X and in its own way, comes across a little more premium in spirit. Mazda may have better interior styling, but the color choices aren’t quite there. Meanwhile, Honda plays it conservative. In places where everyone has a Mini Countryman, the Fiat 500X may be a slightly better attention-getter than the CX-3. That’s just a hunch.
Without driving any of these three, I’m somewhat torn. My head says to go with the Honda, but my right foot might really like that Mazda. Too bad it’s the only one of the three that won’t offer a manual in the U.S. The CX-3 looks good in a non-trendy way, too. But I’m weirdly drawn to the Fiat 500X much more than I thought I’d be.
And then there are a lot of other small crossovers to think about. The Jeep Renegade looks good and quirky, the Juke is holding up well and the Countryman may cost a fortune but it’s still reasonably good to drive.
What would I do? I’d forget about all of those and go for a Ford Fiesta ST instead. I know, I cheated on that one.
By Zac Estrada
Photos: Zac Estrada/Carscoops
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