Mazda CX-3 in Snow & Winter Driving (Explained)

The Mazda CX-3 is a fun-to-drive subcompact SUV.

It boasts a user-friendly infotainment system, bold exterior styling, and a fuel-efficient powertrain. 

In this article, we’ll look at the Mazda CX-3’s performance in snow and winter driving.

Here is the short answer to whether the Mazda CX-3 is good for snow and winter driving:

The Mazda CX-3 can perform well in snow and other winter conditions due to its i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive system that improves traction and stability on slippery surfaces. It also features Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Vehicle Stability Assist, Traction Control and ABS.

Is a Mazda CX-3 Good in the Snow?

Beyond its nice, sporty look, the Mazda CX-3 handles well and has that precise steering that inspires confidence in a driver when cruising in snowy and winter-like conditions. 

The CX-3 is the lightest compact SUV on the market today, with a weight ranging from 2,851 to 3,000 pounds.

While most people will argue that a heavy car is better for winter driving, it’s not necessarily the case.

In basic terms, less weight can help improve performance aspects of the vehicle ranging from acceleration, fuel economy, braking, and overall control.

If you have more weight, you have a better contact patch to get moving, but then you have that much more weight to stop.

What’s more, the CX-3 has a shorter wheelbase compared to its competition, which makes this zippy crossover more maneuverable on tighter turning angles. 

It also has a respectable ground clearance of 6.1 inches, all-wheel-drive systems, a heap of safety systems, and many more features.

What Features Will Help Improve Winter Driving?

Winter driving is challenging and hazardous. The best way you can stay safe on the road is by driving within the speed limits and allowing plenty of stopping distance from the car in front. 

But that’s not all. Your car needs to be sound to help you navigate the roads in such tough weather conditions.

Here are some features that help the CX-3 car perform well in the winter…

Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD)

When roads are covered in snow and ice you need your car to be able to stop effectively.

EBD will help reduce your risk of spinning, fishtailing, oversteering, and understeering. Since braking is more effective on vehicles with EBD, you will also notice a reduction in stopping distance.

EBD, is a subsystem of the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system and electronic stability control (ESC).

Put simply, EBD is a system that stabilizes the amount of braking force on each wheel of the car.

Dynamic Stability Control

The CX-3 features Dynamic Stability Control (DSC).

This system automatically controls braking and engine torque in conjunction with systems such as Traction Control and Anti-Lock-Brakes to help control side slip when driving on slippery surfaces, or during sudden or evasive maneuvering, thus improving vehicle safety.

It is important to remember that DSC is a supplement to safe driving.

Traction Control System

The CX-3’s Traction Control System improves traction and safety by controlling engine torque and braking.

When the TCS senses driving wheel slippage, it reduces engine torque and applies the brakes to mitigate loss of traction.

This means that on a slippery road, the engine adjusts automatically to provide optimum power to the drive wheels, reducing wheel spin and loss of traction.

Anti-Lock Braking System

Mazda has implemented a high-quality anti-lock brakes system into the CX-3.

This system is implemented in order to prevent the car from locking up the wheels during hard braking.

When a wheel locks up it is no longer rotating, meaning it is sliding across the surface of the road and not generating any grip at all.

The anti-lock brakes system helps in the snowy conditions as it allows the driver to apply their brakes hard and fast and the system will ensure that the wheels keep on rotating whilst maximizing the amount of brake pressure applied.

Brake Assist

The brake assist featured on the CX-3 can be of particular use in the winter where stopping distances can become reduced, and is designed to help prevent accidents.

There can be times when, regardless of how hard the driver presses the brake pedal, it may not be sufficient.

The Brake Assist takes into account the force and speed applied to the brake pedal, and if deemed to be insufficient the system compensates by applying additional pressure.

Does a Mazda CX-3 Have Snow Mode?

Unfortunately, the Mazda CX-3 does not have a snow mode.

Snow mode can be found on some vehicles, it is designed to limit pedal sensitivity.

Should you accelerate harder than required it will limit the throttle to reduce wheel spin.

It shifts the transmission earlier to reduces torque at the wheels, and decreases the initial bite of the brakes, so your tires don’t lock.

Please also read our article: how long do Mazda CX-5 last

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Mazda CX-3?

If you’re looking to drive your CX-3 in snowy conditions we strongly recommend getting a good set of snow tires as these will make the world of difference.

You can install snow gear on the Camaro. Depending on what is available and legal in your region, you can install: 

  • Snow tires 
  • Studded tires 
  • Snow socks 
  • Snow chains 

Ensure you know what tires you need before buying snow tires/studded  tires. This includes knowing proper size, speed and weight ratings.  

If you are going to be using snow chains, it is advised to only put them on  the rear of the vehicle. 

With snow socks and chains, do not exceed speeds of 30 MPH. 

Also, be wary of installing chains, studs or socks without knowing if your region allows them on the road. Many regions have strict laws regarding snow gear. 

How Much Snow Can a Mazda CX-3 Handle?

Getting towed from snow can be difficult and expensive for you. It is essential to know how much snow your CX-3 can handle before getting yourself in trouble.

A CX-3 comes with 6.2 inches of ground clearance, and so we would not advise not driving in snow deeper than 5 inches. 

Generally, any car will get stuck if you try forcing it to navigate a road with too much snow.

How Do Mazda’s’ Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The Mazda CX-3 comes with a fuel-injected engine, this enables it to heat up rapidly and run seamlessly, regardless of weather conditions.

However, low temperatures can put a strain on your battery when starting the car in the morning. 

As such, its a good idea to have regular battery check-ups prior to and during the winter months to avoid any unforeseen issues.

Can a Mazda CX-3 Drive on Ice?

The CX-3 can drive on ice at slow, controlled speeds.

In such conditions, we advise looking into studded tires, which will greatly increase traction

Does the Mazda CX-3 Have 4WD?

The CX-3 is available with i-Activ AWD, designed to provide safety and comfort combined with fuel efficiency.

The i-Activ all-wheel-drive system delivers power to all four wheels at the same time, or automatically engages torque to all four wheels when needed.

That’s why all-wheel drive is best for driving on snowy and icy roads.

With all-wheel drive, the driver does not have to use guesswork.

You may also be interested in our article: Mazda 3 in snow and winter driving

What about Older Mazda Models and Winter Driving?

The first CX-3 model was release in 2015 and as such all technology and safety features are still reasonably up to date, even on the older vehicles.

The earliest model of the CX-3 is available with AWD, some feature heated seats, which are a great comfort for winter driving.

Does the Mazda CX- 3 Need Snow Tires?

Snow tires are not essential for the CX-3, however they will make the world of difference in terms of grip and traction in slippery conditions.

As such, it is highly recommended to use snow tires with the CX-3 during the winter.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow on A CX-3?

We would not advise mounting a snow plow on a CX-3.

If you require a snow plow, refrain from buying this vehicle, and find something capable of moving snow.

Typically, snowplows are designed for trucks and bigger SUVs.



  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...