Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars




Abdominal Force

195 G’s

199 G’s

Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

55 G’s

85 G’s

Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

14 inches

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.


The Terrain’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the CX-3’s (6 vs. 5 years).

There are almost 3 times as many GMC dealers as there are Mazda dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Terrain’s warranty.


The Terrain’s standard 1.5 turbo 4-cyl. produces 22 more horsepower (170 vs. 148) and 57 lbs.-ft. more torque (203 vs. 146) than the CX-3’s 2.0 DOHC 4-cyl. The Terrain’s optional 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 104 more horsepower (252 vs. 148) and 114 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 146) than the CX-3’s 2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the GMC Terrain 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. is faster than the Mazda CX-3:



Zero to 30 MPH

2.8 sec

3.5 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.2 sec

9.6 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.7 sec

5.9 sec

Quarter Mile

15.6 sec

17.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93 MPH

82.2 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Terrain’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The CX-3 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Terrain FWD’s standard fuel tank has 3 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-3 AWD’s standard fuel tank (14.9 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Terrain AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-3 FWD’s standard fuel tank (15.6 vs. 12.7 gallons).

The Terrain has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.


A nine-speed automatic is standard on the GMC Terrain, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the CX-3.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Terrain’s brake rotors are larger than those on the CX-3:

Terrain 1.5T

Terrain 2.0T



Front Rotors

11.8 inches

12.6 inches

11 inches

11.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.3 inches

11.3 inches

11.1 inches

11.1 inches

The Terrain stops shorter than the CX-3:



60 to 0 MPH

128 feet

135 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

136 feet

148 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Terrain has larger standard tires than the CX-3 (225/65R17 vs. 215/60R16). The Terrain’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CX-3 (235/50R19 vs. 215/60R16).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Terrain has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the CX-3 Sport. The Terrain’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the CX-3 Grand Touring/Touring.

The Terrain has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The CX-3 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the GMC Terrain has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Mazda CX-3 has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Terrain’s wheelbase is 6.1 inches longer than on the CX-3 (107.3 inches vs. 101.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Terrain is 2.3 inches wider in the front and 2.6 inches wider in the rear than on the CX-3.

For greater off-road capability the Terrain SLE has a greater minimum ground clearance than the CX-3 (6.9 vs. 6.1 inches), allowing the Terrain to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The Terrain SLT/Denali’s minimum ground clearance is 1.7 inches higher than on the CX-3 Touring/Grand Touring (7.9 vs. 6.2 inches).


The front grille of the Terrain uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The CX-3 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Terrain uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The CX-3 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Terrain has 15.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CX-3 (103.2 vs. 87.6).

The Terrain has 1.6 inches more front headroom, 2.1 inches more front hip room, 3.7 inches more front shoulder room, 1.3 inches more rear headroom, 4.7 inches more rear legroom, 2.8 inches more rear hip room and 5.2 inches more rear shoulder room than the CX-3.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Terrain’s rear seats recline. The CX-3’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Terrain has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the CX-3 with its rear seat up (29.6 vs. 12.4 cubic feet). The Terrain has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the CX-3 with its rear seat folded (63.3 vs. 44.5 cubic feet).

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Terrain SLE/SLT/Denali’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The CX-3 doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the Terrain (except SL) offers an optional power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or on the Terrain SLT/Denali, by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a power liftgate.


The Terrain has a 1500 lbs. towing capacity. The CX-3 has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The Terrain has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The CX-3 doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.


The Terrain (except SL/SLE)’s optional easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The CX-3 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Terrain’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The CX-3 has neither an oil pressure gauge nor a temperature gauge.

The power windows standard on both the Terrain and the CX-3 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Terrain is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The CX-3 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Terrain’s front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The CX-3’s passenger windows don’t open automatically.

On a hot day the Terrain’s driver can lower all the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the CX-3 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Terrain has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The CX-3 only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

The Terrain’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Mazda only offers heated mirrors on the CX-3 Touring/Grand Touring.

When the Terrain with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The CX-3’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Terrain SLT/Denali has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The CX-3 offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the Terrain and the CX-3 offer available heated front seats. The Terrain Denali also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the CX-3.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Terrain Denali keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The CX-3 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Terrain (except SL)’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The CX-3 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the Terrain and the CX-3 offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Terrain has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The CX-3 doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The Terrain (except SL) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The CX-3 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The Terrain Denali’s optional Automatic Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The CX-3 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Terrain is less expensive to operate than the CX-3 because typical repairs cost less on the Terrain than the CX-3, including $65 less for front struts.


The GMC Terrain outsold the Mazda CX-3 by almost seven to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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