By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.1
The 2013 Mazda3 is a compact car with a lot of soul. Available as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, the Mazda3 stands out for its fun-to-drive nature, value and fuel economy. The last got a big boost with the recent introduction of Mazda's Skyactiv engine technology, which enables this car to attain up to 40 mpg while not sacrificing its lively driving manners. Two other engine choices remain available, one offering less power and the lowest price, the other more power and additional features in the model's top trim. Then there is the hatchback-only MazdaSpeed3, an apt name if there ever was one. The 2013 MazdaSpeed3 boasts a high-power turbocharged engine and a stiff suspension that's more at home at the track than in daily traffic.
If you want a compact sedan or hatchback that's both fun to drive and fuel-efficient, the 2013 Mazda3 makes an excellent choice. Strong resale value means it's a good bet in the long run, too.
If all-wheel drive is a requirement in your next compact car, consider a Subaru Impreza or a Mitsubishi Lancer with that option. Those seeking comfort over sportiness should look at the Chevrolet Cruze, while those who seek a long warranty will want to consider a Hyundai Elantra or Kia Forte.
After receiving the new Skyactiv engine and a freshened face the year before, the 2013 Mazda3 carries over mostly unchanged. The i Sport model now comes with the Skyactiv engine, and the Sky Mica blue exterior color has been dropped.
Driving Impressions In sedan or hatchback form, the Mazda3 is a nimble car that offers decent-to-good acceleration depending on which engine is under the hood. The base 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in i SV...models is adequate for getting the car up to speed, while the larger, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder in s Grand Touring models makes for a surprisingly quick vehicle. In the middle is the new Skyactiv 4-cylinder, which boasts zippy performance and commendable fuel economy. All 2013 Mazda3 models feel agile for this class of car, making them more fun to drive on twisty roads than rivals like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra. Then there is the MazdaSpeed3 hatchback, a devil of a car with blistering acceleration and tenacious road grip. Unfortunately, since the MazdaSpeed3 is a front-wheel-drive car, the engine's tremendous power results in considerable torque steer under full acceleration. If you choose a 2013 Mazdaspeed3, be prepared to do your own shifting and get ready for a stiff ride.
This sophisticated engine is both fuel-efficient and powerful enough to make the Mazda3 feel zippier than expected. When connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission, it's rated at 40 mpg on the highway.
It's unusual to find this safety feature on a compact car, but it's standard on Grand Touring models of the 2013 Mazda3 sedan and hatch. The system warns of a potential collision by illuminating an icon in the side mirrors and by emitting an audible warning.
The 2013 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback feature a similar interior that's easy on the eyes and very ergonomic. Buttons and knobs on the dash and steering wheel are laid out well and within easy reach. Appreciative touches include ambient blue lighting and, on higher trims, push-button start/stop. The Mazda3's front seats are comfortable even in cloth form, and feel even better when outfitted with leather. The rear seats, meanwhile, can feel cramped for taller adults. The sedan's trunk is on the small side, though the rear seats fold for added space. Mazda3 hatchbacks have more cargo room and added versatility. Up front, the available navigation display is on the small side and sits not in the middle of the dash, but at the top, where it can be difficult to see directions.
Among the most noticeable features on the 2013 Mazda3 is its front fascia, which to some can resemble a big grin. Whether that's a trait you like will be a matter of personal taste. That design element notwithstanding, the Mazda3 sedan plays it relatively safe but retains handsome lines. The Mazda3 hatchback shares some traits with the slightly larger 2013 Mazda CX-5 SUV. MazdaSpeed3 versions are distinguished by a bulging hood scoop and revised front fascia. Like Mazda3 sedans and hatchbacks with the 2.5-liter engine, the MazdaSpeed3 has dual exhaust outlets, adding to its sporty looks. Wheels range in size from 16 inches to 18 inches.
The 2013 Mazda3 sedan is available in five trim levels, while the 5-door hatchback can be had in three. The MazdaSpeed3 hatch comes in just one. A base sedan in the i SV trim is relatively well-equipped with tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and 6-way adjustable driver's seat for a good fit, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, and a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD system with auxiliary input. At the other end of the Mazda3 spectrum are the Grand Touring models, which are packed with the blind-spot-monitoring system, navigation system, power front seats, leather interior, Bluetooth, and an upgraded audio system with a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system with HD Radio.
Options for the MazdaSpeed3 vary by trim. Among them are a spoiler and auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink remote garage control in lower trims and a moonroof and premium sound system in mid-level models. A tech package in the i Grand Touring model adds self-leveling bi-xenon headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Except for the MazdaSpeed3, an automatic transmission is available in all trims.
Several engine and transmission choices are available in the 2013 Mazda3 lineup. The base i SV sedan is now the only one to use the 148-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that has powered past Mazda3 vehicles. The i SV is linked to a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. Using the new 2.0-liter Skyactiv engine that makes 155 horsepower are the i Sport, i Touring and i Grand Touring models, which can all be had with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The Mazda3 s Grand Touring uses a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that makes 167 horsepower for even livelier acceleration, and uses a 6-speed manual or 5-speed auto transmission. Then there is the speed demon in the lineup, the MazdaSpeed3 hatchback, which uses a 2.3-liter turbo-4 that cranks out 263 horsepower – and a whopping 280 lb-ft of torque – and is available only with a 6-speed manual transmission. All Mazda3s are front-wheel drive.
148 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
135 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg (manual), 24/33 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter Skyactiv inline-4
155 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
148 ft-lb of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/39 mpg (manual sedan), 28/40 mpg (automatic, sedan), 27/38 mpg (manual, 5-door), 28/39 mpg (automatic, 5-door)
167 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
168 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg (manual), 22/29 mpg (automatic)
2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4
263 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg
By ladydriver on Wednesday, October 29, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: cut personal expenses
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The positives on this car are numerous. First off the drive-ability and performance were excellent. A nice suspension made for great control on the road. We tended to get around 32 MPG. It was great for long road trips with a nice comfy interior, we could play music or audio books through pandora with the bluetooth, make and recieve phone calls while maintaining focus on the road, and turn on the cruise control for those long stretches of empty highway. There was plenty of space in the trunk, so we could always fit our christmas tree in the back if we put the seats down. We never had any major mechanical issues over the 4 years we owned it, and we never even had to do the brakes. The one and only complaint that we had was that visibility was not great, there are blind spots that can make it tricky to merge or back up without turning around in your seat. But that is merely a side effect of the sporty styling of the body."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By redhead3 on Saturday, October 18, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Car was not what I thought it was
Pros: "fuel economy, reliability,"
Cons: "seats bend, build quality, interior, under powered"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Ok fuel milage and reliability is all this car has going for it. The build quality is terrible, one of those toy cars are built better. Especially the interior its horrific the seats bend with ease, just feels like a toy car."
5 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Lulu on Thursday, October 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles great, great price."
Cons: "Too much road noise in interior."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Car drives great. Has been very reliable. Interior cab has too much road noise. Would love for it to be quieter! Comfortable interior."
9 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Metal Man on Monday, September 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,200overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Has been reliable"
Cons: "Very uncomfortable, noisy and expensive to service"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This car drives like a truck. It is very noisy and you can feel every small bump in the road. The radio is the worst I have ever heard. It is virtually impossible to listen to the radio due to its poor quality and the road noise. There are many comparably priced cars that provide significantly more comfort. I urge anyone considering a Mazda 3 to look at the alternatives."
14 people out of 33 found this review helpful
By Mazda i3 on Saturday, August 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Outstanding MPG, good handling reasonable comfort"
Cons: "Seats are a bit flat for me."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Owned this vehicle almost a year. Initially had a rattle in the rear left, dealer helped locate a loose fender liner and resolved the noise. I LOVE this car. No buyers remorse. Maintenance is easy. Drives great in the mountains, handles well in snow. My 21 year old son took it on a 1200 mile road trip and fell in love with it as well."
23 people out of 40 found this review helpful
By Thatguyy on Friday, August 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The car handles like a sports car, it is a very smooth vehicle to drive and very comfortable. I enjoy driving in this car. So far very reliable have not had a single issue as i creep up on the 40k mileage mark."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful