Like your favorite artisanal cheese, chocolate or craft brew, Mazda's cars and SUVs are beloved by connoisseurs, enthusiasts and those in the know, but often overlooked by mainstream shoppers more comfortable with mainstream brands. And many of those buyers are missing out on a good thing. Because while every one of the cars below is among the best-looking and most fun-to-drive entries in its segment, each is also about as efficient, comfortable and practical as its best-selling competitors.

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Starting Price: $18,680 | Build and price your own

Similar Compact Cars: Honda Civic, Ford Focus

From our Mazda3 Buyer's Guide: "Exceptionally stylish and fun from day one, the Mazda3 boasts the most attractive interior in the class and an infotainment system as good as you'll find in any of its competitors. Highway ride might be a bit stiff for some -- the typical compromise for more responsive handling -- but if good looks and big fun are at the top of your compact car wish list, the well-rounded Mazda Mazda3 will blow you away with everything else it offers. For 2017, the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback receive revised styling, as well as Mazda's new G-Vectoring Control." Read more

Starting Price: $20,860 | Build and price your own

Similar Subcompact SUVs: Honda HR-V, Nissan Juke

From our Subcompact SUV Comparison Test: "True to Mazda form, the CX-3 was the most fun to drive among our group. Its willing engine, eager transmission and excellent chassis make this a small SUV that doesn't just tolerate spirited driving, but relishes it. There's a Sport mode that quickens shifts and holds revs longer, but it's hardly needed. The CX-3's normal driving mode is zestier than the sport mode in some rivals. For drivers aiming to channel their inner racer, paddle shifters are standard on Grand Touring models, allowing you to manually tick up or down gears while keeping your hands on the steering wheel." Read more

Starting Price: $23,830 (w/auto) | Build and price your own

Similar Midsize Sedans: Ford Fusion, Kia Optima

From our Mazda6 Buyer's Guide: "You know that Hollywood cliché with the quiet kid who's constantly overlooked until he saves the day with some heroic skill no one suspected he had? Well, the Mazda6 is that kid. Constantly dwelling in the shadows of heavyweights like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, the athletic Mazda6 is now fighting its way into the spotlight with renewed vigor. The Mazda6 boasts wonderful road manners, an efficient and modern powertrain with an improved automatic transmission, a quieter cabin with a new technology package, and gorgeous looks." Read more

Starting Price: $24,985 | Build and price your own

Similar Compact SUVs: Ford Escape, Kia Sportage

From our Mazda CX-5 Buyer's Guide: "In addition to sexy new sheetmetal, a redesigned interior and even better driving dynamics, the redesigned 2017 Mazda CX-5 also boasts more practicaly improvements like a quieter cabin and new safety systems. Also for 2017, both the 2.0-liter base engine and manual transmission have been dropped, and a turbodiesel engine is expected to join the lineup later in the model year." Read more

Starting Price: $25,750 | Build and price your own

Similarly Fun and Affordable: Fiat 124 Spider, Mini Convertible

From our Full Review: "The Mazda MX-5 reinvented itself just last year, becoming smaller, lighter and even more efficient than its beloved predecessor. What it didn't lose is what made it so celebrated upon debuting nearly three decades ago: nimble, zesty driving manners that can't help making anyone with a pulse smile. Long known simply as the Miata, Mazda has perfected the formula for a modern-day roadster: It's small, lightweight, rear-wheel drive and has one of the best manual transmissions money can buy." Read more

Starting Price: $32,460 | Build and price your own

Similar 3-Row Midsize SUVs: Ford Explorer, Kia Sorento

From our Mazda CX-9 Buyer's Guide: "Even in a three-row people mover that will never be asked to carve a canyon road or attack a looping highway on-ramp, driving dynamics matter. Good steering feel, braking behavior and throttle response combine to increase driver confidence, comfort and satisfaction, whether running errands or family road-tripping. Few automakers put as much emphasis on driving feel as Mazda, and even fewer midsize SUVs are as enjoyable to drive as the Mazda CX-9." Read more

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