I took a spin on the Rental Car Roulette wheel shooting for the Mystery Car at a rate I have not seen since the fall before COVID-19 came knocking on our door.
It was Easter weekend. I needed to get some things done for the magazine. I needed a Good Friday bad!
So, I took a spin on the Rental Car Roulette wheel – this time shooting for the Mystery Car at a rate I have not seen since the fall before COVID-19 came knocking on our door – and got pretty lucky.
When you shoot for a Mystery Car from a given major rental car agency, you’d expect something like a Mitsubishi Mirage or a Chevrolet Spark. Nope. The roll took me to the so-called Intermediate SUV class. A vehicle that would have cost me over $20 a day more.
Talk about a bargain!
When I picked up the car at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, I checked the app to see my choices. First of all, each and every one of these SUVs available on the app were the same color – gray! Three of them were the same exact vehicle – all under 1,500 miles! New units, perhaps? That’s a change from a year ago!
I picked one of the three – the one with the least miles, of course! When was the last time you rented a vehicle with just 650 miles on the clock?
After making my choice on the app, I drove off in a 2023 Mazda CX-30 2.5 S Carbon Edition. The walker went into the back seat along with my backpack. And, off I went!
Here I was with a vehicle I had mixed feelings about in past reviews of it. But, hey, the CX-30 had red leather seats contrasting the gray exterior color and black alloy wheels.
I said I wanted a Good Friday. That, with stops in-between volleying emails with the magazine while I was trying to get B-Roll images for an upcoming issue. It was a striking balance between emails I’s rather not deal with as I covered about 450 miles in my traverses over two days.
Wait? I drove 450 miles for what?
OK, the B-Roll images were for upcoming small town Pride celebrations. I needed some images to represent the community and the venue for each of these smaller communities. My traverses took me from the Twin Cities down to Austin (the home of Hormel and Spam), through Northfield, Hastings, and Hudson on the Wisconsin side of the Saint Croix River. That was just Day 1.
For Day 2, I stopped by the first event of this year’s car season in Medina. Instead of my walker, I brought out my rollator – a larger walker with a seat. I needed that seat. You try to say “hi” to your friends – and vice versa – while catching up on things. That rollator did help.
Then, it was to finish my shoots in Monticello and Columbia Heights, before returning the CX-30 back to MSP. It was truly the test I needed in stamina over the miles, as well as body tolerances.
Let’s just call it vehicular therapy.
Now, did I choose correctly? Maybe.
There are various problems with the CX-30. One, is its small cargo hold. It did swallow up some shopping and laundry I picked up on Day 1. Yet, I had to fold the rear seats down to fit the Rollator into the back. I knew it was going to be a challenge with the larger mobility device.
Then, there were the seats. I’ve always complained about some firmness on the CX-30’s seats, let alone a narrower backrest area. As the miles rolled on, the seat’s effect on my back became evident. I was glad I turned it in when I did.
On the other hand, the uprated 191-horsepower version of Mazda’s Skyactiv-G naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine did a good job keeping me on the road. Although, I wished the six-speed automatic would keep the revs down at cruising speeds. I know it’s a new unit, but you’d think that at 1,000 miles on the clock it would start to “settle down.”
The ride quality was decent, if not somewhere between firm and livable. The roads were a mixed bag between potholes on city streets and stretches of highway unfazed by another crappy winter.
The upside of this exercise with the CX-30 was its fuel economy. I averaged 30.8 MPG in my care. In a CX-30?!? Just wow.
Granted, Mazda had this vehicle in mind for those who live active lifestyles. We get it. Yet, one has to consider the smallish fuel tank, the equally smallish cargo hold and the lack of rear seat space before throwing your hard-earned $30,665 to the finance manager at your local dealership.
However, consider the level of quality of this and other Mazdas of late. If that doesn’t steer you towards one, then you can forget everything I just wrote above.
As for me, it did the job. A lot from what I described.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle was rented by Victory & Reseda
All phots by Randy Stern