By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 9.0
The 2017 Mazda3 breaks the mold for compact cars and sets new standards for the segment. Fuel-efficient and a blast to drive, the Mazda3 is a reasonably priced small car filled with high-end features, a handsome interior and offers an advanced set of safety and driver-assist features usually associated with high-end luxury cars. With better handling than a Toyota Corolla and sleeker styling than a VW Golf, the 2017 Mazda3 covers a lot of different bases. On the flip side, the Corolla and Hyundai Elantra have more interior room, the Honda Civic gets better gas mileage while the VW GTI offers more power. Need better traction in winter? The Subaru Impreza comes with standard all-wheel drive (AWD).
The 2017 Mazda3 compact sedan is the kind of car that satisfies many needs. It can be a frugal economy car, yet still satisfy the most demanding enthusiast. A sleek exterior is matched by a handsome interior, with plenty of cutting-edge safety and convenience features from which to choose.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2017, the Mazda3 sees some shuffling of features, trim names and packaging, as well as a modest exterior and interior makeover. G-Vectoring control is made standard, as is an electronic parking brake, while cars equipped with the 2.0-liter Skyactiv engine and automatic transmission receive a Sport Mode function.
Thanks to Mazda’s innovative Skyactiv powertrain and chassis design, the 2017 Mazda3 is both fun to drive and fuel-efficient. You’ll have to rev the engine high to get the most...
... from its limited power, but the Mazda3’s precise steering, finely honed suspension and strong brakes assure a good time once up to speed. Unlike the VW GTI or Ford Focus ST, the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback don’t sacrifice a smooth, comfortable ride at the altar of great handling. The 6-speed manual is one of the best in the industry and is matched in efficiency and fun by the 6-speed automatic with manual mode. The Touring 2.5 and Grand Touring’s 2.5-liter engine offers a bit more power with only a few miles-per-gallon sacrifice at the pump. Although we understand why everyone is moving to an electronic parking brake, this is one car we’d prefer keep the manual pull-handle type.
MAZDA CONNECT INFOTAINMENT SYSTEM
A large color LCD screen permanently affixed to the dash pad displays controls for the phone, audio, apps and optional navigation. Control is managed via an easy-to-reach-and-operate rotary knob on the lower console, just like some of the finest luxury brands, and it comes standard.
ADVANCED SAFETY EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Mazda3 includes a suite of advanced safety options including high-beam control, lane-departure warning system, lane-keep assist, Mazda radar cruise control with Smart Brake Support and Traffic Sign Recognition. Better yet, Mazda offers these systems with either the manual or automatic transmission.
The Mazda3's cabin isn't the roomiest in the segment, but it's among the best in layout. The well-shaped front seats keep driver and passenger snug. All models now feature Mazda Connect -- a dash-mounted 7-inch touch-screen display and control dial between the front seats. Other dials and buttons for climate and audio are also intuitive and easy to use. Rear-seat legroom is on the low side, but there’s still room for two average-size adults, three in a pinch. All models have 60/40-split-folding rear seats for further versatility. Mazda3 hatchbacks boast over 47 cubic feet of room with seats folded.
Whether as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, the 2017 Mazda3 has knockout styling. The versatile Mazda3 hatchback is noteworthy for a design that should win over those who usually don't equate hatchbacks with beauty. Up front, the Mazda3 for 2017 is revised slightly, with a more streamlined grille and headlight treatment, new side-mirror design and, on Touring and Grand Touring models, new 18-inch wheels. The hatchback receives revised styling at the rear, as well. The sedan features a deep trunk with a wide-opening lid, while the 5-door hatchback’s liftback gate makes it easier to load long or bulky items.
Standard features for the entry-level 2017 Mazda3 Sport include electronic parking brake, the Mazda Connect infotainment system with 7-inch screen, 6-speaker AM/FM/HD Radio audio with USB input and Bluetooth phone pairing and audio streaming, rearview camera, push-button start and cruise control. If you go one trim higher, the Mazda3 Touring adds features such as blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, Smart City Brake Support, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, halogen fog lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers and Leatherette seating. Grand Touring models bring a power sunroof, Bose audio, head-up display and leather seating.
The Sport sedan’s Preferred Equipment package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers and more. The Touring’s Popular Equipment package brings the Bose 9-speaker audio system, a rear spoiler, shark-fin antenna and a power moonroof. Touring and Grand Touring trims can be equipped with the iActivsense Safety suite (see Favorite Features), while the Grand Touring offers the i-Eloop regenerative-braking system (automatic-equipped models only) and the Premium Equipment package that adds self-leveling HID headlights, adaptive front lighting, heated steering wheel and navigation.
The 2017 Mazda3 offers two engine choices, both with a Skyactiv pedigree. The Sport and Touring use a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes a healthy 155 horsepower. The 2.5-liter found in the 5-door Touring and both model Grand Touring variants, cranks out 184 horsepower. While the 2.0-liter is a capable performer, it trades a measure of enthusiasm for better fuel-economy numbers -- 37-mpg highway and 28-mpg city with the 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5-liter won’t stretch a gallon of gasoline quite as far, but notably amps up the car’s sporting character. Manual-transmission lovers will love the fact that Mazda offers an excellent one in both the sedan and hatchback, and with both engines. All Mazda3 models are front-wheel drive.
155 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
150 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/37 mpg (manual), 28/37 mpg (automatic)
184 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
185 lb-ft of torque @ 3,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
Sedan: 25/34 mpg (manual), 27/36 mpg (automatic), 28/37 mpg (automatic w/i-Eloop)
Hatchback: 25/33 mpg (manual), 26/35 mpg (automatic), 27/36 mpg (automatic w/i-Eloop)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Mazda3 Sport compact sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting right around $18,700, while the Mazda3 Sport hatchback starts just under $20,000. These starting prices are higher than a base Toyota Corolla and Kia Forte, but remain in line with the Honda Civic. The 2017 Mazda3 Grand Touring sedan pushes the price to $24,000, with the 5-door adding another $750 to the bottom line. A fully loaded Grand Touring will come up just shy of the $30,000 mark. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Mazda3. We predict the Mazda3 will hold its value well in coming years, but not quite match that of the Subaru Impreza, Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.