2022 Mazda MX-30 EV FWD
Mazda's First Electric Vehicle
Can a ton of features make up for a very limited range?
By Reed Berry
Fri, Apr 8, 2022 01:30 PM PST
Plug it in, plug it in.
Oh wait, that was an advertising slogan for a plug-in air freshener as I recall, but it also applies to the vehicle I'm driving. This is the first electric vehicle I've ever driven and, while it is rather nice to pass right by gas stations that are currently charging an amount per gallon that used to buy two gallons - or more - I need to find somewhere to plug in and charge this sharp looking 2022 Mazda MX-30 EV.
Driving Electric Without A Charger At Home
I know what you're thinking. Just plug it in at home and charge it overnight. Well, that's a fine idea indeed if you live in a house with easy access to power outlets but, for someone who lives in an apartment building or condo complex as I do, it's not quite that simple. I would need a REALLY long extension cord to accomplish that task, so my search for public EV charging stations begins.
At least it gives me time to get to know this vehicle and see if we would be a good match for one another or, as they say in the online dating world, if I should "swipe left." After all, I have a history of keeping cars for a very long time, so I really look for vehicles that meet all my various likes and needs. A great vehicle, in my opinion, doesn't have to be ultra luxurious. I don't drive to impress. I like vehicles that are practical and fun to drive. This is Mazda's first electric car so, needless to say, I've been looking forward to getting behind the wheel.
The body of this crossover vehicle has a sleek, aerodynamic look with rather distinctive, high-end styling. One of the most unique features about the MX-30 is what Mazda refers to as "pillarless freestyle doors." The doors open outward from the center which, in theory, should make it much easier to enter and exit the rear seating area. However, without moving the front seats forward quite a bit, the back seat is a very tight squeeze for me, as it probably would be for any average-sized adult. The rear seat seems more practical for children, pets, or bags of groceries.
While the rear seating area is quite limited, as I open the rear hatch I am impressed by the amount of space in the cargo area. There's a fairly generous 21 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats up and considerably more when the 60/40 split seats are folded forward. There is ample space for luggage, groceries and sports equipment for weekend outings. A bag secured in the cargo area contains a home charging cable that can be plugged into a standard wall outlet.
The interior of the vehicle certainly has eye appeal, with a variety of colors and textures through the use of cork and other sustainable materials. There is a floating console that looks quite stylish and puts controls within easy reach, but it actually hides a power outlet and two USB ports, making it quite awkward to access them. Honestly, I had a little difficulty finding them at first because I didn't think to look behind the console, but I did feel quite satisfied when I experienced that "Ah, there they are"-moment.
The two-tone seating (black leatherette with vintage brown trim in our test vehicle) looks awesome and is very comfortable. The driver's seat has power adjustment and lumbar support, which allows me to achieve the desired comfort level for a safe, relaxing drive. The leather shift knob and steering wheel provide a look and feel of sportiness and quality. Above me is a power glass moonroof that I will slide back to take full advantage of on yet another gorgeous day in Southern California. Combine this level of interior comfort with the quiet operation of an electric vehicle, and I may just be in for a truly zen-like experience.
Entertainment (But no AM?!)
As for entertainment, whatever I decide to listen to will sound amazing on the 12-speaker Bose Premium Audio System, part of the Premium Plus package included on this vehicle. Not unlike most newer cars, there is an array of options from which to choose: from HD Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio to connectivity via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Not only is this the first electric car I've driven, but the first vehicle I've road tested that doesn't have AM radio. A bit of a disappointment for someone who primarily listens to news and talk shows while driving, but at least I can stream all my AM favorites from my phone via Bluetooth.
There is a bright 8.8-inch color display, as well as a multi-function Commander Control that works somewhat like a joystick to move things around and make selections on the infotainment display screen. Situated around the control knob are smaller buttons that allow you to jump quickly to various screens, such as navigation, entertainment and favorites. There is a button with an arrow icon that returns you to the previous screen. The control cluster is very cleverly designed and easy to use.
One thing that I've noticed almost immediately is that the "fuel" gauge (which, of course, in this case is electricity rather than gas) drops fairly quickly while driving. Since this vehicle only has a range of about 100 miles on a full charge, that would make me a bit nervous on longer drives or as the needle starts getting down towards "E." It seems like an incentive to keep this vehicle charged and limit drives to shorter trips. It seems like this may be a better around-town second car than a primary vehicle, based on its limited range.
Road-Tripping With Limited Range
But, being the fearless journalist that I am, I'm on a road trip to Temecula, a popular SoCal destination for wine aficionados, golfers and those desiring scenic hot air balloon rides. Temecula is approximately 80 miles from where I live in L.A., so we'll see how many charges it takes to get there and back. I'm actually looking forward to this trip because Temecula is a beautiful area with many scenic spots providing picturesque views. It's also home to the Pechanga Resort Casino, so I may just head over there if I'm feeling lucky upon arrival.
Power And Drive
The MX-30 seems to have plenty of enthusiasm with an e-Skyactiv electric powertrain generating 143 horsepower. It drives smoothly and accelerates fairly quickly. The electric power assisted steering performs well and, teamed with traction and stability control, the MX-30 handles quite impressively. Cornering is sharp and, while the ride is smooth, I have a good feel of the road.
Stopping is quite confident thanks to an anti-lock braking system. Mazda's G-Vectoring Control Plus provides a driving experience that is both intuitive and responsive. The ride is quite smooth and cruise control keeps me rolling at a comfortable speed. The car has paddle shifters should I feel a little sporty and decide to shift manually. A head-up display projected on the windshield makes me aware of my speed as well as the speed limit.
This car may be short on range but it has a long list of important safety features, including a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross traffic alert. A lane departure warning system alerts the driver if they start to drift out of their lane. Hill hold assist prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards when transitioning from the brake to the accelerator pedal. One feature I find particularly helpful is the back-up camera and simulated overhead view of the vehicle. The charging port is toward the rear of the vehicle, so backing up to the charging unit is more practical. The overhead view allows me to perfectly position the vehicle for charging.
Final Thoughts On The Mazda MX-30 EV
Trying to summarize my thoughts and feelings about this driving experience and the MX-30 is a bit of a challenge, as there are so many pros and cons to address. This vehicle looks great, drives beautifully, rides smoothly, has loads of safety and tech features, and certainly provides the quiet performance you would expect from an electric vehicle. But, with all the care, concern and attention to detail that went into designing this vehicle, I have to wonder who signed off on a pitiful range of only 100 miles? There certainly seems to be a striking imbalance between the robust build of the vehicle and its capabilities. For me, with no option to charge at home during the night, the Mazda MX-30 would only work if I lived in a small community where I only drove to the grocery store during the week and church on Sunday. I live in L.A... There's a lot of driving going on, and I can't imagine this vehicle fitting into the lifestyle others in my situation - ie. those who don't have access to EV-chargers at home.
In looking at a comparison chart of 2022 EVs and their EPA estimated range (combined city/highway,) the lowest is - you guessed it - the Mazda MX-30 at just 100 miles. Taking a look at other similarly priced (low to mid 30's) EVs, the Kia Niro has an estimated range of 239 miles, the Hyundai Kona 258 miles, and the Chevy Bolt 259 miles, just to name a few. If you are fortunate enough to have deep pockets and money isn't an issue, the Lucid Air Dream Edition has an estimated range of 520 miles - and a price tag right around $165K.
In any event, based on my driving habits, I find it necessary to charge the MX-30 daily which, using a fast charger, takes about 45 to 60 minutes, depending on how much of a charge is needed. I have met some nice people at the charging station I frequent, but that aside, it is fairly inconvenient to have to charge so often. I am quite fortunate because, not far from where I live, the City of Pasadena has a large charging lot that is offering free fast charging for EVs (Tesla chargers excluded) through April 15, 2022. But, when I charged the vehicle in Temecula, I paid a whopping 56 cents per minute (for 53 minutes) to charge up. Based on a 100-mile range, even at today's prices, gas would have been less expensive for my personal car, since it averages 30 miles per gallon.
So, between the severely limited driving range and the super tight rear seating area that only accommodates pets or very small passengers, this vehicle would be a no-go for my lifestyle. But, for a person that doesn't do much driving, or perhaps just needs a reliable, great looking secondary vehicle for short trips or around-town use, it may be a perfect fit... And if that person has the ability to charge the car at home every night, then this might be a slam dunk.
About The Author
Known professionally as "The Traffic Guy," Reed Berry has been a driver safety educator for over 30 years. Reed has conducted traffic school classes and suspended license workshops throughout California, and has served as keynote speaker at safety conferences and corporate events across America. He has appeared on radio and television programs both in the U.S. and internationally to discuss safety-related issues. A contributor to LA Car since 2003, Reed Berry is a member of Motor Press Guild, the Los Angeles Press Club and SAG-AFTRA.