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2011 Mazda MAZDA3

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2011 Mazda MAZDA3 Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.7

With some compact cars you get great fuel economy. Others offer superior performance. A select a few are loaded with premium features uncommon to low-priced cars. However one car, the 2011 Mazda3, combines all of these attributes and does so for a starting price less than $17,000. The 2011 Mazda3 is available as a four-door sedan or five-door wagon, and with a choice of a 148-hosepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or a potent 168-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder. The 2011 Mazda3 provides the performance of a more expensive sports sedan with the interior quality of some mid-level luxury cars. While it easily runs circles around cars like the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra, newer competitors such as the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra look to give the 2011 Mazda3 a run for its money.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're looking for a compact car that offers visual appeal, a feature-rich interior, superb driving dynamics and respectable fuel economy, the 2011 Mazda3 Sedan or Wagon is it.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're looking for a car with maximum rear-seat legroom, a turbocharged engine or all-wheel drive, there are better choices, such as the Volkswagen GTI or Subaru WRX.

What's New for 2011

The revamped Technology Package is the only major change for 2011. New to this package are rain-sensing front wipers and a significant overhaul of the headlights.

Driving the MAZDA3
Driving Impressions

No matter which 2011 Mazda3 you choose, there is a healthy dose of Zoom-zoom in each one. Mazda engineers focused their attention on making the Mazda3's body as stiff as...

... possible and its suspension both agile and compliant. Models with the 148-horsepower engine offer spirited performance and good fuel economy, reaching 33 miles per gallon in the government's highway test. However, the engine that brings the 2011 Mazda3 to life is the 167-horsepower four-cylinder found in the s trims and the five-door wagons. Mazda's manual transmissions (five-speed in i models and six-speed in s versions) should be the template for all others, delivering tight, precise shifts. While carving up a twisting mountain road we found the driver-selectable stability and traction control granted us plenty of fun before stepping in to save us from ourselves. Our Grand Touring trim's front seats provided plenty of thigh and lateral support and the overall feel inside the cabin is one of sophistication and attention to detail.

Adaptive Front Headlamps
Mazda says this is the first application on a compact vehicle of the swiveling blue-white bi-xenon high- and low-beam headlights (bi-xenon means there are two headlights on each side – one for high beam and the other for low beam). Their inner beams can rotate up to 15 degrees in order to look deeper into dark corners. They are self-leveling to prevent dazzling on-coming divers.

Super-Efficient catalytic converter
All 2011 Mazda3s are fitted with a new, Mazda-patented catalytic converter that requires 70-percent less precious metal, but is even more effective at cleaning up exhaust gases.

2011 Mazda MAZDA3 Details
Interior

Mazda's Human Machine interface philosophy was used to create a three-zone driving environment designed to help the driver remain focused on the road while still enjoying all the benefits the 2011 Mazda3 has to offer. Comfortable bucket seats offer excellent support on long drives and all Mazda3s have a 60/40 split-folding rear bench that can be folded flat to add even more utility. Easy to read analog gauges are housed in a hooded area directly in front of the driver, while the audio and other controls reside just to the driver's right. On s trims, steering wheel mounted controls operate the audio, Bluetooth, Multi-Information Display and cruise control. We found the Mazda navigation screen is too small and not very user friendly. The available Bose audio system, on the other hand, is worth every penny.

Exterior

Although it shares the same exterior dimensions as the original Mazda3, this second-generation car is noticeably more stylish. Highlighted by the bold front fender flares found on the RX-8, Mazda designers have created a sedan and wagon that look far more upscale than their entry-level status suggests. The 2011 Mazda3's big, toothless grinning front grille may be polarizing but it certainly doesn't go unnoticed. The same can be said for the racy alloy wheels, curvaceous sheet metal and bold colors. Upper-end models offer such high-end features as LED tail lamps and adaptive front lighting. Even the most basic trim offers color keyed mirrors and 16-inch wheels. All i models of the 2011 Mazda3 come with 205/55HR16 all-season tires on steel or aluminum wheels, while the s models have V-rated 205/50 tires on 17-inch alloy rims.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The four-door 2011 Mazda3 is available in five trim packages, starting with the base i SV, and moving upward with the i Sport, i Touring, s Sport and s Grand Touring. The five-door wagon's two trim levels are Sport and Grand Touring. Even the base 2011 Mazda3 i SV sedan has impressive standard equipment, including electronic stability control, a tilt-telescoping steering column, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio, power windows and mirrors and variable intermittent wipers. The i Touring adds cruise control, alloy wheels, air conditioning, power locks with keyless remote and Bluetooth connectivity. The s levels and both five-doors have the more potent 2.5-liter engine in place of the 2.0-liter powerplant of the i models. The up-level versions also get a Multi-Information Display, trip computer, sport seats and enhanced trim items. Only the Grand Touring versions feature dual-zone automatic climate control, bi-xenon Adaptive Front headlights and heated leather seats.

Optional Equipment

With the exception of the base i SV, all 2011 Mazda3s offer a five-speed automatic transmission as an option in place of the standard manual transmission. The Moonroof and Bose Package, which includes a 10-speaker Centerpoint Surround Sound system, can be fitted to all Touring-and-above 2011 Mazda3s. The Tech Package (navigation system with 4.1-inch color screen, Sirius Satellite Radio, advanced keyless entry, pushbutton start, rain sensing wipers, bi-xenon Adaptive headlamps with auto leveling, LED tail lights, auto on/off headlamps and perimeter alarm) is limited to s models.

Under the Hood

Two engines and three transmissions are part of the 2011 Mazda3 lineup. The four-door i models (SV, Sport and Touring) are equipped with a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that can be teamed with a five-speed manual transmission or, except for the base i SV, a five-speed automatic with manual shift control. The more powerful s models (Sport and Grand Touring) have a 168-horsepower 2.5-liter powerplant that's also used in the Mazda6. It can be paired with either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. The five-door versions come only with the 168-horsepower engine.

2.0-liter in-line 4
148/144 horsepower (Federal/PZEV) @ 6500 rpm
135/132 lb-ft of torque (Federal/PZEV) @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 (5-sp manual), 24/33 (5-speed automatic)

2.5-liter in-line 4
167/165 horsepower (Federal/PZEV) @ 6000 rpm
168/167 lb-ft of torque (Federal/PZEV)) @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 (6-sp manual), 22/29 (5-speed automatic)

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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2011 Mazda MAZDA3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.9
Out of 10

Based on 389 Ratings for the 2010 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.0/10
    Quality
    8.9/10
  • Reliability
    9.3/10
    Performance
    9.2/10
  • Comfort
    8.6/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

Great drive, poor ride.

By on Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Fun in looks and drive, reliable"

Cons: "Stiff ride, audio connectivity is poor"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"Loved my Mazda3 from the start. I never minded the front end smile - liked it actually and was sad to see it go in the refresh. It drives great - plenty of power, maneuverability, and plain fun. What isn't fun is the ride. That will make a back, neck, or head ache worse in minutes. Also, the placement and function of the audio connectivity is disappointing. The auxiliary audio jack is in the bowels of the center console, and there is no USB connection. While the Bluetooth connection exists, it doesn't interact with the audio display. On the other hand, I haven't had any problems or done anything to it other than routine maintenance and one headlight."

It's going to be tough without this car.

By on Monday, June 6, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 101,340

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
Not Rated
Styling
Not Rated
Comfort
Not Rated

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I love driving this car. The speed3 is incredibly fun to be in control of, with a six speed manual transmission and engine that responds wonderfully. The only reason I'm selling is because I've just gotten tired of dealing with the roads in the area I live in not being maintained. The potholes have gotten out of control and if taxes aren't going to maintain them, I'd rather just not drive at all. I'm lucky enough to live in an area where I can ride a bike to work and other times simply use Lyft. In regards to the car, the right side did get scraped by branches reaching into the road after a tree fell down during a snowstorm. On the left side, by the back door and in the area before the back wheel, there's scrapes from when I accidentally rubbed against a column in a parking garage. That said, those are external, cosmetic issues that don't affect the vehicle's performance."

Absolutely love my Mazda 3! Zoom Zoom

By on Thursday, March 24, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,700

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, handling, tight steering, afforable"

Cons: "More cabin features, suspension, no SAT radio"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

My 2011 Mazda 3 S Sport

"I have owned this car for 3 years and I absolutely love it. It handles so well through zippy turns, up and down hills, and takes my "spirited" driving style like a champ. Truly a great bang for your buck. There are some features I wish it had, particularly in the cabin: moon roof, navigation system, satellite radio, and/or touch screen controls. I have purchased a few of these items aftermarket, but anyone will tell you that having an aftermarket moon roof installed can be risky. I would've preferred one stock with the vehicle. I purchased the car outright from a dealership in Freeport, PA in 2013. Upon test driving, I was impressed particularly with the handling. The suspension could use a little work, but that's because it's a sport suspension rather than that of a luxury vehicle. Road noise is a bit high but will vary with choice of tires. The Mazda 3 S Sport's compact size makes it incredibly easy to park in metropolitan areas. Overall I think the look of the exterior is stylish. The bucket seats are extremely comfortable, they provide good back support and make driving long distances much easier. Passengers have remarked on the comfort of the seats as well. The backseat isn't very spacious, so consider that if you intend to use this as a family vehicle or have passengers frequently. The trunk is more spacious than one might expect -- it is definitely a nice feature. The Bluetooth wireless option came stock with the vehicle and was a huge selling point for me (I listen to music on my mobile phone constantly so it's nice to sync up to the sound system). Overall, I am extremely happy with this car, short of a few aftermarket tweaks and customizations I would add. If you're looking for a sporty, affordable, courageous little car that you can throw through sharp curves and turns without thinking twice, that also offers practical safety and enough pragmatism to be used as an everyday car, I highly recommend the Mazda 3. Very happy with my choice and I've driven the car a pleasurable 31,000 miles in my 3 years of ownership."

11 people out of 21 found this review helpful

My 2011 Mazda 3 S Sport

Total worst the money, great value, good service..

By on Sunday, December 27, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "zoom zoom, accurate, stable, reliable"

Cons: "SkyActive first gen, cosmetic failure"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I own a Mazda 3 SkyActiv 2.0 since March 2012. This engine is truly amazing even if it is the first generation. The good is the solid 36 MPG average 30MPH average (a lot of traffic in Austin,TX). The cons are a sensitive electronic / engine to bad quality fuel, rarely a random light caused by rapid temperature change. It was a really modern looking car in 2012. In 2015, I have a hard time to find better style. The driving is excellent, it is a really good car for 20k$. And, Mazda service is truly excellent on overall. The only hiccup is a dashboard that melt under Texas heat. But it might happen to any car while the sun heat over 100F."

13 people out of 16 found this review helpful

Great driving, reliable car.

By on Sunday, December 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 96,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "fun to drive"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Love this car. Great driving and very reliable during first 100,000 miles. Good gas mileage. Next vehicle for me will be another, really like it."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Great Car... for 10K miles

By on Saturday, November 7, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
5/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
1/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Hard to find one."

Cons: "Cheap, cheap, cheap, low quality."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"Bought this car brand new with 350 miles on it. Ran great had excellent gas mileage and was the perfect car for traveling on the road with. At 30K miles the headlights started flashing when I would hit the breaks. Took it in and they reset the computer at no cost. This fix lasted until 37K miles when the dealership told me the warranty was expired since the warranty only convers electronics up to 36K miles. The seats are cheap... really cheap. The interior is beige and I keep my car spotless, but the seat is discolored from bluejeans. The car now gets about 33MPG on the highway compared to the 38-40 it got before, and I've had all maintenance done on the car, even an extra tune up. This car doesn't struggle up hills, but the RPM's will fly to 4,500+ if you don't use the manual mode. Mazda's are not cheap to maintenance, at the dealer at least. The 25K mile maintenqance cost me about $400, the 30K maintenance cost another $250. So now I have a car with 40K miles on it that has flashing headlights (interior lights/dash lights now too), sub-par gas mileage, dirty interior that doesn't shampoo clean, and can;t wait to get rid of it and get back to american made.... Oh but it's value in 2013 when i bought it was $24K and 2 years later with $40K miles the value is down to $10.5K. I did a lot of research before buying and was sold on the "low maintenance cost", suposid "high Quality", and most importantly for me the "great gas mileage"."

25 people out of 44 found this review helpful

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