By Bob Nagy
KBB Expert Rating: 8.5
The best-selling model in the entire Mazda lineup, the compact Mazda3 is all new for 2014 and now incorporates the full suite of Mazda's efficiency-enhancing Skyactiv technologies as well as the automaker's latest Kodo styling language. This comprehensive makeover elevates the car to an entirely new level of sophistication and a place on our list of the 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000 for 2014. The stylish sedan now shares much visual DNA with the larger Mazda6 while the Mazda3 hatchback puts a sportier spin on that refined appearance in an even more practical 5-door configuration. Multiple trim grades, two fuel-efficient engine choices and several class-exclusive convenience and safety features make the Mazda3 an even more enticing alternative to rivals like the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, and Toyota Corolla.
Its 3rd-generation remake has given the Mazda3 a far more engaging personality that encompasses both its visual and functional elements. The new Mazda3 drives as great as it looks, and introduces new technology and safety features not found in any of its current class rivals.
Some buyers may not be ready to fully embrace the Mazda3's new sense of style, while those wanting a compact with maximum interior volume – particularly in the rear-seat area – will likely be happier with one of its competitors like the Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla or Volkswagen Jetta.
Beyond the 2.0-liter engine in Mazda3 i models, every other meaningful component has been redesigned for 2014. That remake brings better in-car connectivity plus numerous innovative "class-above" touches, highlighted by an available head-up display, Mazda's econo-enhancing i-Eloop system, adaptive Radar Cruise Control, and low-speed Smart City Brake Support.
Driving Impressions With 2.4 inches of additional wheelbase, wider track dimensions, a stiffer body and a new Skyactiv chassis design, the 2014 Mazda3 feels even smoother and more confident than its predecessor...... – as well as most of its key rivals. Ride control/compliance, steering feedback and brake response have all been enhanced in ways that see this new Mazda rivaling the Focus for best-in-class dynamic status. And more driver-centered control layouts, better seats, improved cabin isolation and outstanding forward visibility minimize fatigue factors while maximizing driving enjoyment – especially on top-line Mazda3 s versions with the head-up display and touch-screen infotainment system. Enthusiasts will prefer the extra kick of the 184-horsepower 2.5-liter engine, but the even-more-fuel-efficient 155-horsepower base 2.0-liter is quite capable, if a bit less exhilarating.
ACTIVE DRIVING DISPLAY
Standard on all 2014 Mazda3 s models, this class-exclusive, auto-deploying head-up screen sits atop of the main instrument cluster and provides quick, virtual line-of-sight access to pertinent information like vehicle speed and turn-by-turn navigation directions.
i-ELOOP (INTELLIGENT ENERGY LOOP) SYSTEM
Included in the s Grand Touring Technology Package, i-Eloop can improve real-world fuel economy up to five percent. It uses a special alternator that converts kinetic energy normally lost during deceleration into electricity which gets stored in a capacitor that seamlessly metes it out to various vehicle systems as needed.
While total passenger volume stays roughly the same, additional shoulder room makes the Mazda3's cabin feel more accommodating, particularly up front. In addition to better materials, improved fits/finishes and more user-friendly control layouts, the redesign sees the first use of Mazda's new "Human-Machine Interface" philosophy. Fully implemented in upline models with the head-up Active Driving Display and high-mounted touch screen, even the base Mazda3 i variants have audio switchgear positioned closer to the driver's line of sight to help minimize distraction. Rear legroom still falls on the low side of class average, but there's still room for a pair of average-size adults.Exterior
Smart styling on the 2014 Mazda3 brings a new level of elegance to the appearance and proportions of both the sedan and hatchback variants, while helping improve their overall aerodynamics. The recast grille replaces the previous "happy face" with a more distinguished character, and repositioned A-pillars improve the driver's forward sightlines. While the base SV and 3 i Sport Sedan come with 16-inch steel wheels, all of the other 2.0-liter cars feature same-sized alloy alternatives that move to an 18-inch upfit on the 2.5-liter 3 s models. The 3 s variants also boast self-leveling bi-xenon headlights and LED-enhanced front and rear lighting elements.
The features roster expands as you move through the Sport/Touring/Grand Touring hierarchy, but even the sedan-only Mazda3 i SV comes with numerous power assists, air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering column, push-button start, and a full complement of safety items. At the volume-leading i Touring level, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert join the lineup, while all Grand Touring variants feature touch-screen navigation with a 7.0-inch display, Bose audio, dual-zone climate control, and more. All 3 s models add bi-xenon headlights, shifter paddles and the head-up Active Driving Display, while 3 s Grand Touring variants get leather upholstery, corner-following Adaptive front lighting, and more.
Optional equipment on the Mazda3 is modest and trim-dependent. A power moonroof is available on the 3 i Touring, while both the 3 i Touring and 3 s Grand Touring offer their own Technology Packages. The former brings 3 s standards like navigation, Bose audio, a color touch screen and the Commander multi-function controller to the mix while the latter adds Mazda's new mileage-maxing i-Eloop regenerative engine-braking system, auto high-beam control, a lane-departure warning system, and two segment-exclusive features – Radar Cruise Control & Forward Obstruction Warning and Smart City Brake Support that helps prevent or mitigate potential low-speed impacts.
The new 2014 Mazda3 offers two engine choices, both with a Skyactiv pedigree. All i models share the familiar 155-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 used in the 2013 Mazda3. The 2.5-liter found in all s variants cranks out 184 horsepower, as it does in the 2014 Mazda6 and CX-5. While the 2.0-liter is still a capable performer, it trades a measure of enthusiasm for better fuel economy numbers – 41 mpg highway in the sedan and 40 mpg in the hatch with either the 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The automatic-only 2.5-liter won't stretch a gallon of gasoline quite that far, but notably amps up the car's sporting character.
155 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
150 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
Sedan: 29/41 mpg (manual), 30/41 mpg (automatic)
Hatchback: 29/40 mpg (manual), 30/40 mpg (automatic)
184 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
185 lb-ft of torque @ 3,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
Sedan: 28/39 mpg (automatic), 29/40 mpg (automatic w/i-Eloop)
Hatchback: 28/37 mpg (automatic), 29/39 mpg (automatic w/i-Eloop)
While not the lowest-cost player in this intensely price-sensitive segment – that honor goes to the 2014 Kia Forte – the 2014 Mazda3 lineup still reflects solid value when you factor in both the content and character of its overall package. The well-equipped i SV Sedan starts under $17,750 and the entry-level 3 i Sport Hatchback starts below $19,750 while at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Mazda3 s Grand Touring Sedan and Hatchback ring in closer to $26,600 and $27,100, respectively. However, adding the Technology Package that brings class-exclusive safety features and the i-Eloop system does bump those numbers by an additional $1,600. KBB.com has yet to establish residual values for the 2014 Mazda3, but based on current figures, this Mazda compact is likely to retain a slightly better percentage of its original selling price than the Cruze or Focus but less than the Civic, Forte and Corolla.
By Mazda3 sport Grand Touring on Monday, August 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, great tech package."
Cons: "slow paddle shifters"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my first Mazda, and I am impressed (had a tacoma before, hard act to follow). The Mazda3 Sport Grand Touring Hatchback with the Tech Packge and iEloop is an excellent car for the money. It handles extremely well, as tested on the winding mountain roads of Southern California. To balance out the Zoom Zoom, it also gets great gas mileage (I average about 30 MPG in city/ congested freeway conditions). The only thing I slightly dislike is the paddle shifters, as I feel they are slow to respond (expected the control of a manual, but lags). I will be patiently awaiting the arrival of the Speed3, as we could all use a little more power to match the handling!"
By HMob on Friday, August 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, lots of future, USB"
Cons: "One 12 volt outlet, screen could be better place"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have this car about 5 Months, I drive about 100 Miles per day, its comfortable, has enough power to cruise fas"
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Kdark on Monday, July 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "See above"
Cons: "See above"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My wife needed an economical car with decent interior space. We checked all the major manufacturers, and chose the Mazda3 for it's reliability, excellent MPG and it's appearance. Reliability: Mazda3 has had a long history of being a reliable car, if my internet research is accurate. There are reports of the 2nd generation of Mazda3 owners hitting 70K miles with just simple maintenance, and very little after that towards 100K. Gas mileage: We have the I Touring, and on the 70 mile drive home, I averaged 42 MPG. I'd say 35% of that was city driving, and the rest highway/rural back roads. Today, my wife drove it to work (5-10% city, the rest highway) and averaged a whopping 47 MPG (the stats had been reset by me before she left). To give you an idea of the savings we realized, her previous vehicle was a Chevy Trailblazer, which hit 20 MPG if she was lucky. Appearance: Of all the cars in it's class, we felt the Mazda3 was the best looking of the bunch. Very aggressive and sporty. The only other car we felt looked nearly as good, was the Civic coupe, but it didn't have the interior requirements we needed. Cons: The only things I can really find fault with is: - the tachometer is small, and has that cheap 1980's digital appearance to it. Mazda had a real chance of giving us the WOW factor, and at least in this case, it was a disappointment. It does function as it should, however. - Prone to fingerprints. The black trim on the exterior doors really grabs and hold fingerprints. Even after the short time we've owned the car, there are a load of them all over the trim, and I foresee us having to either avoid touching them, or wash them frequently. - Delicate exterior paint - We have the Soul red paint, and it and the white are the only ones that have a triple coating (that's a good thing - triple coat) BUT the paint seems more vulnerable to nicks and scratches than paint on other vehicles we have owned. It's not falling off, or showing signs of degrading already, but I had to have a very small section of paint repaired by the dealer the second day we had it. These are all small quibbles on an otherwise great car. The only other thing that really burns my bacon, is that the 2015 models (except baseline sedan) will have the current Infotainment package (7" screen, $1,600 option) come as STANDARD, and fog lights ($370 option) also appear to also come as standard. I would've waited the 2 months or so if I had known. We're still quite happy with the vehicle, and intend to keep it at least 5 years, probably longer if it proves to be as reliable as my research indicated."
35 people out of 53 found this review helpful