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
A base 2013 Mazda3 sedan with manual transmission has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $17,495, with an automatic transmission an extra $850. The lowest-priced Mazda3 with the new, more efficient Skyactiv engine is the i Sport model, starting at $19,170. The top sedan is the s Grand Touring, which starts just over $25,000 and offers a lot for the money. Mazda3 5-door models begin at $20,795, while the 2013 MazdaSpeed3 is priced just under $25,000. The 2013 Mazda3's starting price is higher than base versions of the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Kia Forte and Mitsubishi Lancer, and nearly the same as the Volkswagen Jetta, Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Sentra. The Mazda3's base price is lower than that of the Subaru Impreza. The MazdaSpeed3's price is in line with base versions of the Volkswagen GTI and Ford Focus ST, and less than the Subaru WRX. Be sure to check the KBB Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the 2013 Mazda3. In the long term, the Mazda3's resale value is expected to hold up very well, near the top of this class.
By eric on Friday, July 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "good price and fun to drive."
Cons: "road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"You have to test drive this car on highway. You will not like the road noise. Just driving around dealer will not give you the overall picture of road noise. Change holder is sized for a childs hand. No back seat leg room and its kind of embarrassing when guests climb in and are so scrunched. But, you get what you pay for an for about $20K, I would buy it again."
By Bowie on Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent MPG, nice body shape, rims easy to wash."
Cons: "Poor console, bad factory paint,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"2013 Madza3 was attractive and very effective on MPG. Mine was 36.9 average since I bought it. Sometimes it hit 41 MPG per a tankful. What I am disappointed about my car is the quality of paint and clearcoat job at factory. Too thin coats! I could see the orange peels in paint condition. I understand that the water-based paint (oil-based now outlawed) may be the reason, but I had seen other brands with thicker clearcoats. The seat was too low so I adjusted the position to highest point. So I could climb out of car easier, but the vision became limited as my head reached to the ceiling. Overall, I am learning to love my car more after I missed Toyota Matrix a lot."
12 people out of 25 found this review helpful
By SelizMac on Tuesday, June 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty, peppy, comfy for long rides, economical"
Cons: "Check for cruise! No guts in snow."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have been happy with my Mazda 3, with two exceptions: 1.) It did not come standard with cruise control, which I missed at the dealership and discovered AFTER signing and driving off the lot, and 2.) I wish the vehicle was holding it's resale value better. It's been a peppy, fun-to-drive and reliable car with sporty good looks, but I hope to trade in on a 4WD vehicle for this winter, as the low clearance, front-wheel-drive did not serve me well over this past winter of deep snow in Minnesota's northland."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By wibz on Friday, May 30, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: bad gas mileage
Pros: "Car looks very sporty, and has good pick up"
Cons: "Absolutely no leg room in the back"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I owned a 2002 Mazda Protege5 before this car, and the first thing I noticed is that this 2010 Mazda3 was the exact same size length wise but there was considerable less leg room in the back. It also wasn't the same quality. The seats were squeaky for some reason, I took back to the mazda dealership a couple times and they re-adjusted it but it would keep squeaking. The car came with premium bose sound, but when I would bump it, there was rattling coming from inside the dash. The other thing to note is this car came with Nav, well the Nav chip is a SDCARD that sits on the dash. During the summer time, the first year we had it the SDCARD failed. I took into the mazda dealership and told me that was a common problem with this car. Because the SDCARD would go bad from the heat. They replaced it but recommended I go buy and extra one and make a copy of it. The NAV does not come with free updates, you have to purchase a new one every couple years for about $125. Which is pretty funny because that how much a new stand alone nav costs nowadays. From the get go the mileage was rated at 30 per gallon in the city, well it was more like 23 per gallon. I didn't drive the car that hard and was checking to see it would get better but it didn't. I swapped our air filter with a KN performance one to see if would getter better, but it stayed about the same. The factory tires on the car were shot after 20k. At 37k, we decided to trade this in because the tires needed to be replaced again, from the outside the wheels looked new, but the inside there was considerable wear. I was surprised to see this because we had the wheels aligned when we got the new tires. Any ways, this car is perfect if you don't mind getting new tires every 20k or so miles. And if you need this car for just two people, or two people and two small children since there is no leg room in the back. Gas mileage is about 23 per gallon in the city, I'm pretty sure it was rated at 30 so be aware of that."
3 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Ilovetodrivecarsguy on Friday, May 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great driving feel, Great fuel economy, Great tech"
Cons: "Road Noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car has been a great vehicle to own! I call this the "poor man's BMW" because it is far less to own than a BMW but it offers an amazing driving experience. There are a ton of tech toys (Xenon headlight with AFS, rain-sensing windshield wipers, NAV, Bose soundsystem) that make the overall value of this car amazing. The vehicle gets way better fuel economy than what I was expecting too. On long road trips, I average about 42MPG; in 55MPH zones I have gotten to 52MPG (and that isn't me trusting the computer, that is actual miles divided by total gallons used to fill up). Overall worksmanship and materials exceed other competitors. My only complaint is road noise...unbearable amounts of road noise. I've driven this car across the US twice and the road noise just eats at you like a fly that wont quit buzzing in your face. Overall, I highly recommend this vehicle to anyone needing a daily driver and who doesn't mind the road noise."
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Dean O on Monday, May 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, great gas mileage, good pick up"
Cons: "Bluetoth has trouble connecting on rare occasion"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've owned my MAZDA3 as my primary car for just about 2 years now, and it has been an awesome car! I commute 100 miles round trip each day, so I need a comfortable car which gets good gas mileage. My MAZDA3 has delivered on both of those points in spades. This sporty hatchback also provides enough trunk space and back seat room to allow me to take road trips with my wife and 2 young children (and occasionally our dog as well), with everyone staying comfortable and with enough room to go around. I have been completely happy with this car since the day I drove it off the lot!"
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful