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Review: 2020 Mazda CX-30 GT – Part 5

Posted in Products with tags on February 7, 2020 by itnerd

This was a very interesting week with a very impressive vehicle. The Mazda CX-30 really blew me away this week. If Mazda wants to take over the sub-compact crossover space, this is the vehicle that will allow them to do just that. Sure I had a couple of minor gripes that I noted, but the CX-30 hits home runs in so many areas that those gripes really are irrelevant. Mazda deserves to sell every copy that they make because it is that good.

The final fuel economy was 8.4 l/100 KM which is very impressive as I didn’t try to drive in a manner that was fuel efficient. Price wise, it’s a bit more money than some in this class, but it’s worth it as you get a lot of content for your money. It starts at $23,950 with the GT trim level that I drove this week coming in at $33,850. I’d list all the main competition for the CX-30, but I would be here all day listing them all. Having said that, the Hyundai Kona and the Nissan Qashqai have to be in Mazda’s sights as you see a lot of those on the streets. But what Mazda has done is thrown down the gauntlet and said “beat this”. It will be interesting to see if they can as the CX-30 is a very early contender for my award for the best SUV of the year.

Review: 2020 Mazda CX-30 GT – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags on February 6, 2020 by itnerd

If you’re looking for technology in the Mazda CX-30 GT, you’ll find that there’s a lot of it on board. Some of it which is really different.

First let’s start with the driving experience. You get a proximity key with push button start. Thus all you have to do is press a button on the driver’s door handle. Well, it’s not a button. It’s more like a touch sensitive indent on the front door handle.

Once you get in, hit the start/stop button and drive away. When you’ve reached your destination, press the start/stop button to turn off the car. Then get out of the car, and walk away. The car will lock itself a few seconds after you close the door. You never need to pull out the key fob to do any of this. But the key fob does have the ability to lock and unlock the doors and it has the ever useful panic button. As an added bonus, it has a backup key inside the key fob should you need it.

Let’s go to the safety technology:

  • Blind Spot Monitoring: This system keeps an eye out for cars in your blind spots so that you don’t hit them when changing lanes. It works well as the area of detection was large enough to keep me safe, but not so large that it created false positives. One cool thing is that unlike a lot of systems which only work when the car is above a certain speed, this system seems to work all the time for an extra level of safety.
  • Lane Departure Warning With Lane Keep Assist: If you cross over into another lane, this system will buzz you on either the right or the left side. The buzz really gets your attention I must say. You can also set it to vibrate the steering wheel. And it gets really loud if you’re too close to a car and you’re in danger of hitting it.
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert: If you back out of a parking space in a busy shopping mall and you have limited visibility to your left and right, you’ll love this system as you will be warned of any cars that cross into your path.
  • Rear Backup Sensors: The Mazda CX-30 has sensors that help you to revers into a spot without hitting anything. And the Mazda CX-30 is capable of stopping itself if you are about to reverse into something.
  • Adaptive Front Lighting System and High Beam Control: I wrote about this previously and I have to admit that on some of the back roads that I drive at night, this feature comes in handy. I was always able to see what was in front of me clearly. One thing that I really appreciated was the fact that the LED headlights were very bright.
  • Radar Based Cruise Control: I really liked this feature as you can set the speed you want and the distance that you want to have between yourself and the car in front of you, and you can pretty much let it slow down and speed up depending on the conditions. It’s very handy on long highway drives.
  • Smart City Brake Support: Let’s say that you you do not react in time to a car that panic stops in front of you. This Mazda is capable of coming to a stop on it’s own, or slowing down to make the impact less severe. You can get more details on this system here.
  • Rear Backup Camera: The camera is a fisheye camera that has an impressive degree of clarity. You can see anything and everything that is behind you when you’re backing up and the camera is insanely clear. One thing to note is that the camera is exposed so that the potential exists for dirt to obscure the camera.
  • You get anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, and electronic brake force distribution. Plus you get hill launch assist which keeps you from rolling backwards when you’re on a hill.
  • Finally, you get dual front air bags, dual front side air bags, dual side air curtains and knee air bags.

The next piece of technology that stood out was this:


The Mazda Active Driving Display is a heads up display that places everything from speed and blind spot monitoring info, to navigation and warning for the lane monitoring, and how close you are to the car in front of you. On top of that, the car is capable of reading speed limit and stop signs so that it can display them on this heads up display  in color. It works very well with the only thing that I should mention is that polarized driving sunglasses will filter the display out. Thus choose your sunglasses carefully.

Mazda has a new version of Mazda Connect. Here’s a look at the screen which is an all new 8.8″ super sharp widescreen, which for the record is not a touch screen.


The interface is clean and easy to understand. As you can see there’s a list of functions that you can scroll through. And it takes one only minutes to figure out. Another feature is that you can set up either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to pop up automatically when a phone is plugged into the system. That’s a very cool feature as there are some who will just want to use either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto instead of Mazda Connect. And Mazda has fully leveraged the screen real estate for both Apple CarPlay as displayed above or Android Auto.

The screen is not touch sensitive as mentioned earlier so to interact with Mazda Connect, you have to use this:


This is the HMI (Human Machine Interface) Commander Switch. It’s been redesigned and feels a lot better in the hand and becomes second nature to use after only a few uses. The logic behind forcing you to use the HMI Commander Switch rather than a touch screen is that it is way safer than a touch screen. And I would agree with that as I didn’t realize how distracting a touchscreen in a car is until I started using Mazda Connect. I say that because touchscreen usage while driving takes my attention from the road. But using the HMI Commander Switch for me is far less distracting.

One other thing. this new version of Mazda Connect is fast. It’s fast on startup, it’s fast in terms of navigating it, it’s fast in terms of how the screen responds. It’s just plain fast. I was impressed as it was one of the fastest car infotainment systems that I have ever seen.

Mazda Connect comes with SiriusXM which include the following:

  • More room for song/artist/genre metadata.
  • Album art display.
  • Channel logos on Now Playing and Station List screens.
  • New SiriusXM features: TuneStart, TuneScan, and TuneMix.

On top of that, SiriusXM Traffic Plus is now onboard and it includes the following features:

  • Live Traffic: View traffic flow and incident information directly on the Mazda Navigation map. This feature is available in 20 different Canadian communities. It ties into the on board navigation system to allow it to better route you.
  • Weather: View Forecasts, Radar Maps, and Severe Weather Alerts.
  • Fuel Prices: Find the lowest fuel prices or the closest fuel stations and see the available fuel types.
  • Parking Information: Find parking locations, pricing, and hours of operation.
  • Sports: Follow your favorite teams sports with play-by-play details and game/event schedules.

SiriusXM Traffic Plus is free for five years. This is separate from the three month trial SiriusXM audio subscription.

A 12 speaker Bose audio system is on board. It impressed my wife who usually isn’t impressed by many car stereo systems as she is a classically trained pianist and takes audio seriously. I was impressed because the sound that came from the system was insanely great. For example, I was picking up details from the song “My Head Is A Jungle” by Wankelmut & Emma Louise that I had never heard before. If you care about audio, you want this audio system in your Mazda CX-30.

The final part of this review will tie up some loose ends and I’ll give you my final verdict. Watch for it tomorrow.



Review: 2020 Mazda CX-30 GT – Part 3

Posted in Products with tags on February 5, 2020 by itnerd

The interior of the Mazda CX-30 GT is simply a class above. Let me walk you through it so that you can see why.


The driver’s seat is power adjustable, heated, and has a soft leather on it. It’s comfortable for the most part though like a lot of cars, I found that I could use a bit more support for my thighs.


There’s a mix of soft touch materials and leather on the doors along with a piano black trim that is a serious fingerprint magnet. I’ll note that you can put a water bottle in the door without any issue.


Here you can see the switches for the various electronic overseers as well as the area for your feet to live while driving.


The steering wheel is leather wrapped and heated. It also includes all the buttons to control the infotainment system.


The gauge cluster is made up of two real gauges on the left and right, and a TFT screen in the middle that is customizable. It is prone to glare is certain lighting conditions, but is otherwise easily readable.


There is an 8.8″ screen that is insanely sharp on the top of the dash. You should note that this is not a touchscreen. All functions are controlled by the HMI commander switch on the center console.


Here’s a picture of the HMI Commander Switch at the bottom. Along with the shifter which is leather wrapped, and sport mode switch. All of it is surrounded by a piano black finish.


There’s a small cubby in front of the shifter along with a USB port and a flip up door that hides two cupholders. Not pictured is are the HVAC controls which are easy to use as the fall to your hand nicely.


While I was able to get my Venti Starbucks coffee into it, I had to maneuver it into the cupholder.


The arm rest can be moved fore and aft to either allow you to have quick access to something inside of it, or to better position it for your arm.


The storage area inside the arm rest has a USB port, an aux audio port, and a 12V outlet. Plus it can be divided to separate your stuff.


There’s a decent sized glovebox along for the ride.


There’s also a decent sized moonroof as well.


The back seats will seat two adults with no problem as long as the front passengers adjust their seats. Three is asking a bit too much as the center hump that presumably has the driveshaft to the rear wheels gets in the way.


If you don’t need to seat three people, you get this arm rest / cup holder for use by the rear passengers.


To keep the rear passengers comfortable, there’s an HVAC vent for them.


The cargo area has a surprising amount of room. And one thing that I liked about it was the fact that it is deep which means that you can hold more back there. One thing that my wife liked was that there is a power lift gate on the CX-30.  That’s kind of a rarity in the sub compact crossover space and is worth noting.

One note that I do have about the CX-30 is about the ease of entry and exit. One of the people that I drove home from the weekly bar night as I was the designated driver had just had a knee operation. Thus his mobility was temporarily limited. He noted that having used Ubers for the last week or so to get around, the CX-30 was a “10 out of 10” in terms of ease of entry and exit. That’s very positive praise and should be noted by anyone where ease of entry and exit is a high priority.

No squeaks or rattles were noted by yours truly during my week with the CX-30. Visibility was great all around, and noise vibration and harshness were non-issues. Overall, this interior is a winner.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the tech in the CX-30 as there’s a lot of tech on board. Stay tuned for that.



Review: 2020 Mazda CX-30 GT – Part 2

Posted in Products with tags on February 4, 2020 by itnerd


This is the Mazda Skyactive-G 2.5l engine that puts out 186 HP and 186 pound feet of torque to all four wheels via Mazda’s i-Activ AWD system. This engine is used in a number of Mazda products. But in the CX-30, this engine comes into its own. It has a lot of power off the line and more than enough to allow you to blow by vehicles on the highway and merge onto the highway with ease. There’s zero need to put this into sport mode. But if you do, watch out. It amps things up to a level that where you can go from zero to jail if you are not careful.

The six speed transmission that’s mated to this engine is well sorted and always seems to be in the right gear to power all four wheels. And this car is incredibly nimble. On the day I returned the CX-30 to Mazda Canada, I had to make an emergency lane change when the car in front of me panic stopped and didn’t leave me with any other option such as braking. I executed the maneuver just like I was one with the car. I put that down to features like G-Vectoring Control Plus and the AWD system along with the CX-30 feels solid and inspires confidence.

So are there any gripes? There was one which was the go pedal sometimes was sometimes “jerky”. As in it would sometimes cause the CX-30 to lurch forward. As the week went along, I got used to it and the “jerky” behavior would happen less. I assume that if I had it for a longer period of time, I would just get used to it.

Fuel economy is 7.4 l/100 KM in mostly highway driving. So I expect this number to increase over the week.

Tomorrow, I will look at the interior in detail. And the CX-30 has very impressive interior even by Mazda standards. Tune in tomorrow to find out why I say that.

Review: 2020 Mazda CX-30 GT – Part 1

Posted in Products with tags on February 3, 2020 by itnerd

The sub-compact crossover market is getting increasingly competitive. You have to bring something to market that is going to stand out, otherwise it isn’t going to sell. Mazda already has a vehicle in that market which is called the CX-3. But I guess that they needed another product in that market to give car buyers a choice. And that car is the 2020 Mazda CX-30 GT.

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I spent the week trying to decide whether this was a shrunken CX-5, or a Mazda3 Sport that’s been made taller and sharper. Either way, Mazda has the looks nailed. This is a vehicle that I could easily see myself driving. And I suspect that once you see this vehicle in person, you’ll feel the same way.

My review of the 2020 Mazda CX-30 GT is made up of five parts:

  • Exterior
  • Engine, transmission, handling, fuel economy, and driving comfort
  • Interior
  • Technology in the vehicle
  • Wrap up

The next part of this review will cover the engine, transmission and driving comfort. Spoiler alert: For the most part it’s top shelf. Tune in tomorrow to find out the details on that front.

The IT Nerd Award For The Best SUV Of 2019 Goes To: 2020 Hyundai Palisade Luxury

Posted in Products with tags on December 30, 2019 by itnerd

Hyundai has a three row crossover that is going to scare the dickens out of a lot of their competition in the form of the 2020 Hyundai Palisade Luxury.

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It brings a stout engine, some really cutting edge tech, and one of the best interiors that I have ever seen in a vehicle. On top of that, I managed to get seven adults in it comfortably and the exterior stands out from virtually everything else on the road. The kicker is that I didn’t get the top trim to review which means that there’s even more that you can pack into this vehicle, all at a max price of $53K CDN. For a company that is known for packing a lot of content into their vehicles and pricing it at a level that makes it almost irresistible, Hyundai has outdone itself with the Palisade. That makes awarding it the Best SUV of the year an easy decision.

The IT Nerd Award For The Best Car Of 2019 Goes To: 2019 Mazda3/Mazda3 Sport AWD

Posted in Products with tags on December 30, 2019 by itnerd

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is rushing out to buy an SUV these days. Some people still want a car in their driveway. One that’s good on gas, handles well, and has a well appointed interior. Plus having a ton of safety features on board is a must along with tech like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In the case of Mazda, they have two choices for you. The Mazda3 sedan and the Mazda3 Sport. Both of which have the option for all wheel drive which is not exactly common in the compact space.

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It doesn’t matter which form factor you choose, the Mazda3 ticks all the boxes and is a standout in the compact car class. It’s great on gas, has an interior that rivals luxury cars, has the safety that car buyers demand these days, and comes with the tech you want. Plus you get the option for all wheel drive which really makes it stand out from the rest of the cars in the class with no penalty at the fuel pump. All of that means that an SUV may not be in your future. And it makes giving the Mazda3 the IT Nerd Award for the best car of the year a no brainer.