Mazda’s best seller is as good as ever.
Last year, Mazda updated the 3 by adding a thrifty Skyactiv 2.0-liter engine that can return as much as 40 mpg on the highway. The efficiency has been a hit with customers, who opt for the Skyactiv setup in more than three-quarters of all 3s sold. Even before that update, the Mazda 3 was fun to drive, well constructed, and practical. Only base i SV models come with a 148-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 148 hp and returns 33 mpg on the highway. The 2.0-liter Skyactiv engine offered on i Sport, i Touring, and i Grand Touring models is the best option for most drivers. Its 155 hp is plenty for normal driving, and highway fuel economy ranges from 38 to 40 mpg. There is an optional 2.5-liter engine with 167 hp, but its brisk acceleration is accompanied by poor fuel economy. The 3 can be well equipped with options befitting larger cars — rain-sensing wipers; swiveling, automatic bixenon headlights; a Bose ten-speaker sound system; navigation; and a blind-spot monitoring system. Both hatchbacks and sedans are roomy inside and stylish outside. Driving enthusiasts can opt for the hatchback-only Mazdaspeed 3, although the turbocharged car can be a bit rough-and-tumble for everyday driving. Offering four engines and two body styles might seem excessive, but having choices is rarely a bad thing for customers.
new for 2013
The Mazda 3 receives numerous small changes for 2013, including a redesigned automatic transmission shifter, and the Skyactiv engine becomes available on i Sport sedans. Blind-spot monitoring becomes standard on the Grand Touring trim level, and push-button start is now standard on the Touring and Grand Touring. The Mazdaspeed 3’s mirrors, spoiler, and rear diffuser are all painted black, and the car gains a USB port and gunmetal eighteen-inch wheels.
Standard features include front, side, and side curtain air bags, along with ABS, traction and stability control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Blind-spot monitoring and adaptive, swiveling bixenon headlights are optional.
Fun to drive
Great fuel economy (Skyactiv models)
High trim levels get expensive
Torque steer (on Mazdaspeed 3)
Base Price Range: $16,000–$25,000 (est.)
TRIM LEVELS: i SV, i Sport, i Touring, i Grand Touring, s Touring, s Grand Touring, Mazdaspeed
BODY STYLES: Sedan, hatchback, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.0L I-4, 148/155 hp, 135/148 lb-ft
2.3L turbo I-4, 263 hp, 280 lb-ft
2.5L I-4, 167 hp, 168 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 5- or 6-speed manual, 5- or 6-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: (sedan/hatchback) 94.3/95.4 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: (sedan/hatchback) 11.4/17.1 cu ft