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Mazda CX-3 Takes Top Honors in Northwest Auto Press Association’s Mudfest

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2016 Mazda CX-3

The temperature is rising, the ice is thawing, and the rain is falling—and you know what that means: pretty soon, there is going to be a lot of mud. For some this is terrible news, but owners of the new 2016 Mazda CX-3 won’t be among the moping mud-haters, since the compact SUV just took the title of “Best Compact Utility Vehicle” at the Northwest Automotive Press Association’s Mudfest.

Interestingly, it didn’t initially look this way. With 6.22 inches of ground clearance, the CX-3 had the lowest amount of clearance in its class.

“I think the Mazda CX-3 was the biggest surprise for our members,” said Ryan Douthit, event chair and producer of Driving Sports TV. “Not only did this subcompact crossover excel on our sealed-surface handling course, it also showed surprising capability on our rugged off-road circuit.” The Mudfest event tests vehicles one day on the road course and one day on an off-road track.

So, what set the CX-3 apart despite its comparatively ground-hugging stance? According to Mazda, this is most likely due to the crossover’s i-ACTIV all-wheel drive, the same system that they used to face off in the snow with other popular SUVs using the CX-5. The i-ACTIV system uses sensors to detect a possible traction loss and acts to counter that effect before the driver experiences any slippage.

The CX-3 is the fifth model in Mazda’s new-generation lineup, and the smallest of its crossovers, starting with an MSRP of $19,960, and available for purchase (with or without the i-ACTIV system) right now.