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Styling, well-designed subcompact crossover drives well but falls short on range.

COURTESY PHOTO: MAZDA - The 2022 Mazda MX-30 is their first entry into the electrified vehicle market in America. It is a subcompact crossover with up to 100 miles of range.The all-new Mazda MX-30 EV has everything necessary to be a competitive affordable all-electric vehicle except the most important one — enough range to win over most potential buyers.

The subcompact crossover is only EPA rated at 100 miles of range on a full charge of electricity, the lowest of any 2022 EV. The next lowest is the all-electric version of the MINI Cooper, which is rated at 117 miles. And the MINI Cooper has an excuse for being that low. It is based on a years old vehicle originally designed for a gas engine, meaning the space for the battery pack was compromised.

Granted, 100 miles is more than the first mass produced EVs got. The early Mitsubishi iMiEv, first generation Nissan Leaf and short-lived Chevy Spark EV were only rated at around 80 miles or less. Those who bought them were early adopters who believed EVs were the future and were willing to adjust their schedules to meet their car's needs.

COURTESY PHOTO: MAZDA - The 2022 Mazda MX-30 is a stylish crossover that looks good coming and going.

But today, most affordable EVs can go between 200 and 300 miles on a full charge. While it's true that most people don't drive more than 40 miles in a single day, research shows that range anxiety — the fear of running out of electricity on longer trips — is the second biggest considering behind price when deciding whether to buy an EV and which one.

The shortcoming is especially puzzling because everything else about the MX-30 is so good. Based on the new gas-powered CX-30 subcompact crossover, it is handsomely styled with a well designed interior featuring higher quality materials than most affordable EVs. It also drives like a genuine Mazda, which means the ride and handling are surprisingly refined. It even has a few bonuses, like recycled cork trim in the interior, front doors that open a full 90 degrees for easier access, and small suicide back doors for reaching the back seat that give it a coupe look.

It has also received 5-star ratings in frontal and side crash tests, and a 5-star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's New Car Assessment Program.

COURTESY PHOTO: MAZDA - The interior of the 2022 Mazda MX-30 is well-designed and features recycled cork trim.

And the MX-30 is one of the least expensive EVs on the market, with a starting price of $33,470 before the available $7,500 federal tax credit and up to $5,000 in instant Oregon rebates, depending on household income. Despite that, because of the short range, it's hard to recommend the 2022 Mazda MX-30 EV to anyone considering an electric vehicle. Others have more range, including some that cost less. And it pains me to say that because I have long admired the company's cars and crossovers.

In fact, the very first car I ever bought was a Mazda, a used 1970 R-100, the first rotary-powered vehicle they sold here. It was a sleeper that looked like a small economy car but drove like a sports car thanks to the powerful, high revving rotary engine. I caught many owners of much more expensive performance vehicles off-guard at green light changes in my younger and more foolish days.

Mazda is finally joining the electrified market after long resisting it. When other companies started producing hybrids and EVs to improve mileage and reduce emissions, Mazda stuck with gas engines but refined all components of their vehicles with SKYACTIV technologies to improve economy. The results also paid off with better handling, enhancing the company's sporty image.

COURTESY PHOTO: MAZDA - Mazda says the 2022 MX-30 featues "Freestyle doors."

But with tougher government regulations and changing consumer preferences to fight climate change, Mazda has now announced it will release five hybrid and five all-electric vehicles in coming year. The 2022 MX-30 is the first. A plug-in hybrid version is rumored to be next. Depending on the all-electric range before it switches to hybrid mode and cost, that could be the contender Mazda needs to break through in the growing electrified vehicle market.

2022 Mazda MX-30 EV

Base price: $33,470 (before incentives)

Price as tested: $38,150 (before incentives)

Type: Subcompact SUV

Drivetrain: Single e-SKYACTIV electric motor (143 hp)

Transmission: Direct drive

EPA estimated range: 100

EPA MPGe: 92

Overall length: 173 inches

Curb weight: 3,655 pounds

Final assembly: Hiroshima, Japan


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