2011 Mazda MAZDA2 Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Mazda 2: I Want Different Gauges

November 01, 2011

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One thing I still don't like about our 2011 Mazda 2 after 16,000 miles are the gauges. During my back-roads drive last week, I really wanted a bigger tachometer. This car is too much fun to have such a small tach.

I'm also tired of not having a temperature gauge; the car gives you the little blue light when the engine is cold. And it annoys me that the last pip on the digital fuel gauge flashes when the fuel range slips below an estimated 50 miles or so (the flashing is distracting), instead of triggering a dedicated fuel light.

However, I do find the all red color scheme easy on the eyes at night, even if it's a little low on contrast.

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2011 Mazda 2: Grab Handle Fail

October 25, 2011

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I picked up some dry cleaning last week and went to hang it on one of our 2011 Mazda 2's rear-seat grab handles, and uh-oh.

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Eh, It's Close Enough

October 17, 2011

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Here's a sidebar to Warren's 10 Memorable Steering Wheels list on our Straightline blog: I have always liked-loved the steering wheel in our Mazda 2 (left). It's not identical to the wheel in the MX-5 Miata (right), but it's the same idea and feels pretty much the same, which is to say good.

It helps that we have a Touring model, which gets a standard leather wrapping, but beyond that, I like the positioning of the spokes on this wheel. Whether you do 9-and-3, 10-and-2 or 4-and-8 with your hands, it's going to work out fine with this steering wheel. That's definitely not the case on some other cars in this price range.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 15,212 miles

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2011 Mazda2 Touring/Commuting

September 28, 2011

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Welcome to my Wednesday. I usually leave my house at 5:00 am to avoid exactly what you see above. But Wednesdays are different. After dropping my daughter off at school, this is what I face for the next two hours (it has lasted as long as three). At worst, I arrive (41 miles later) detesting all humanity and ready for two fingers of single malt. At best, I use the time to carefully examine a long-term test car. Follow me to the next page to see what I learned about the Mazda2 this morning.

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2011 Mazda 2 vs 2012 Fiat 500: In the City and for the Dogs

September 21, 2011

It feels like forever since I last got behind the wheel of our 2011 Mazda 2 Touring. I forgot how much I liked it! All this time our long-term Fiat 500 was my favorite little car in our fleet but after driving our 2 I almost prefer the Mazda.

And yes, car buyers normally wouldn't cross-shop these two: the Fiat's Euro cuteness puts it up against the Mini while the 2 competes with the equally practical Honda Fit. But those interested in the Fiat would be doing themselves a disservice by not test-driving the Mazda 2 first. It, like the Fiat, is a great urban runabout, small enough for parking in the city, fun to drive and I think it looks pretty cute, especially in that Spirited Green Metallic.

Plus after driving the Fiat all this time I can really feel the difference between it and the 2. The 2's shifter feels much more solid and sure and its engine sounds smoother and not as truckish compared to the 500.

And if I had to pick between the 2 and the 500 for a weekend car, I'd go with the Mazda. Not only is it more practical with more cargo room to facilitate errand running but my dog Mya fits comfortably in the backseat. Again, I realize that the 2 and the 500 wouldn't normally be cross-shopped especially talking 4-door versus coupe but just in terms of having to pick between our two current long-termers, I'm making the comparison.

More on how the 2 does as a doggy hauler after the jump.

It was really easy for Mya to jump in and out of the back. And I like how the rear seatbelt fasteners protrude from the bottom seat cushion, making it easier to belt her in via her harness even with her doggy blanket spread out.

Since the 2 is pretty basic, it doesn't have any schmancy rear climate controls or vents but I just direct the vents in the center dash toward the back so that Mya can get some air.

Just as a reminder, here's Mya with the Fiat. There, she can spread out in the backseat, too, and the seatbelt fasteners also protrude for easy fastening. She doesn't get as much of a view out the backseat in the coupe as she does in the 2, though, and thanks to the gray cloth, I fear that it would be harder to clean off than the 2's dark cloth.

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2011 Mazda 2: Economy Car Litmus Test

September 20, 2011

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There are certain things that people look for in economy cars. Fuel economy is one of them, and another would probably be value. And I imagine that many buyers in this segment appreciate a car that transcends its price tag; in other words, a car that doesn't look nearly as cheap as its low price suggests. That's a nice extra, and one that lots of models deliver these days.

I can think of one other thing that people probably hope for with an economy car purchase...

...and that's durability when it comes to the car's interior. It's not a good look if the cabin looks 10 years old four months after purchase.

We got our Mazda 2 back in October of last year, which means it's been with us for nearly a year. With almost a full 12 months in the trenches, the cabin is holding up pretty well.

I noticed one of two scuff marks here and there, but nothing major. And much respect to that seat fabric; like Ed, I'm a fan of that snazzy red piping, and the upholstery overall has shown almost zero sign of wear.

What factors do you prioritize when evaluating economy cars?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor@ 13,492 miles

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2011 Mazda 2: At Home In The Front Row

September 19, 2011

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You look at the 2's small footprint and you expect a cabin that hits you with some compromises when it comes to spaciousness. But every time I slide behind the wheel, I'm pleasantly surprised at how well the front row accommodates my 5'11" frame.

There's lots of room for my legs, there's a generous amount of shoulder room and my skull is never in danger of getting too friendly with the headliner. I always feel comfortable behind the wheel (though a center armrest would be nice), and that's half the battle, really.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Simplicity

August 18, 2011

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Sometimes it's good to remind yourself of just how little you really need in a car. One day recently, I realized I hadn't driven the Mazda2 in awhile and resolved to sign it out when it was next available. I actually found myself -- I wouldn't say pining -- but kinda longing to whip the little pod into a freeway on-ramp with its little 100-hp engine rasping away. And the Mazda2 is not a car you really look forward to driving on a long commute.

It's small. You don't stand a chance against semis. Your nerves would like a sixth cruising speed. There's no Bluetooth, no USB (although there is an aux jack), no navi, no sat radio, no dual zone climate control. Yet I'm still trying to find something I don't like about it. If pressed, I'd say the manual transmission, while easy and slick-shifting, feels slightly Fisher--Price. I'd like to feel just a little more weight, as if there's real metal linking everything together.

But that's it. It's got power windows and mirrors, simple climate control, supportive seats, even a good stereo that pulls in a local college radio station. A Wilco b-side followed by some old R.E.M. works fine. The Maz2 isn't my first choice for a long-range daily commuter, but it does the job well and it's got spirit. Still enjoying it.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Mazda 2: Rearview Mirror Complaint

August 03, 2011

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I never imagined I'd be complaining about this in any car, but the placement of the rearview mirror in our long-term 2011 Mazda 2 Touring bugs me. It's a combination of three things:

--> The mirror is mounted fairly high up on the aggressively slanted windshield (it's set at a pretty laid-back angle for a non-sports car).

--> The Mazda 2 has a very small rear glass area and it's set at a very upright angle, so you're limited in how you can adjust the mirror and still see out the back.

--> Even though I have a short torso (i.e., I don't sit up tall), I put the seat height as low as it will go in this car to maximize legroom.

With these factors in play, I always I feel like I'm craning my neck to look up into the mirror -- I can never just look over to it. It's probably not a deal breaker, but it's a continuing source of minor discomfort and probably my second-biggest complaint about the Mazda 2. (My #1 complaint is the lack of cargo-hauling flexibility compared to the Honda Fit.)

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 11,318 miles

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Looming C-Pillar

July 29, 2011

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I've been zipping around in the Mazda 2 a bit this week, enough for me to realize I have an issue with the rear view around the C-pillar, especially while changing lanes.

Any Mazda 2 owners note this as a complaint, or just something you become accustomed to after spending more time in the car?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 11,060 miles

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2011 Mazda2: Mazda Fit

July 12, 2011

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"It's a Fit. But, it's a Mazda."

That was my cryptic description of our Mazda2 to Magrath before he drove it for the first time in months. And you know what? I was right.

I spent some time in the 2 this weekend and as much as I liked our 2009 Fit, the Mazda2 is simply a better Fit than the Fit.

While the Fit is nimble, it is to the point of nervousness, much like a Mini. The 2 is simply nimble. It loves to change direction, but it won't do so until you tell it to. It's not darty, nor does it get unsettled on our second world freeways; it's very tied down, much like any other Mazda. And while the 2 gives up some practicality to the Fit (the Fit's trick rear seat has not been matched by anyone in the class), it's close enough 95% of the time so you won't notice. And then there are the front seats; the 2 takes this one hands down - barcalounges to the Fit's folding chairs.

Perhaps the most surprising advantage however, goes to the 2's engine. For the first time in as long as I've been around, a Mazda has a better engine than its Honda competitor. Neither engine is going to win any awards, but the Mazda's feels more robust and is decidedly less thrashy at higher rpms. I only wish the tachometer was a little bigger.

The 2 is a quality small car.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 9,956 miles

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Embrace the Shopping Cart

July 07, 2011

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I'm the first guy to tell you that a car should be more than just a shopping cart on big rubber wheels, but it seems like the Mazda 2 doesn't work too well for me because it doesn't have enough shopping cart in its DNA.

Sure, it goes to work right enough, recording 31 mpg in the daily commute. Of course, it carries stuff all right. There's plenty of cargo capacity behind the 60/40-split folding rear seat, and naturally you can make more room if you need it. As soon as the weekend comes, though, the Mazda just sits in the driveway.

Maybe the problem is the way it drives in parking lots. I feel like I'm asking for trouble every time I'm weaving among the Explorers and Tahoes. The Mazda 2 is a little too lively at low speed when what you want is deliberate pace. It's not like one of those shopping carts with a rogue wheel fluttering away, but it answers the accelerator pedal and the brake a little too eagerly, while the awkward clutch engagement is always a distraction.

All this is a bigger deal than you realize, because a parking lot is probably the most dangerous place that you can drive, since there are so many vehicles all moving randomly in different directions, while the drivers are completely distracted and so even more witless than usual. You're on the verge of crashing every second.

The Mazda 2 is fun when you go fast, but it doesn't drive slow in a way that makes me happy. If you're driving in a parking lot, what you really want is our Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, which doesn't do anything quickly.

Who knew that being able to drive like a shopping cart could actually be a good thing?

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Mazda 2: Another Nice Detail

July 05, 2011

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The Mazda 2 isn't the least bit fancy. In fact, dressed in refrigerator white like our test car, it's about as homely looking as a new car gets, at least on the outside.

Mazda's designers might not have done much with the exterior, but they added a little bit of flair to the interior where they could. Most hatchbacks in this class are saddled with plain old grey cloth from top to bottom. The Mazda 2 mixes it up with contrasting fabrics and red piping, at least on the Touring model. The base model doesn't get the red piping, but at least it has contrasting fabrics.

None of this is groundbreaking stuff, but when it comes to $16K cars, it's an indication that the designers are at least trying to make a go of it.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Mazda 2: Best Small Car in the Fleet

May 16, 2011

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Recently in the comment logs, I noticed someone wondering if we'd forget about the 2011 Mazda 2 (accidentally, of course) now that we have a cool Italian subcompact hatchback in the fleet. So after a night in the Fiat 500, I spent the next 24 hours with the Mazda 2 to see if my feelings for the latter have changed due to the former.

They have. But for the better.

I'll start off by acknowledging that this hardly qualifies as any kind of official, complete or apples-to-apples comparison. The Fiat 500 is one size down from the Mazda 2. Under the Fiat umbrella, the Fiat Grande Punto and Alfa MiTo are more appropriate competition for the 2, but neither is sold in the U.S. (though I rented a diesel MiTo once -- it was cool).

So, whatever. Back to the Mazda 2. For me, at least, the Mazda has a far better driving position. Neither of these cars has a telescoping steering wheel, but in the Mazda, the wheel is an appropriate reach for my arms. In the Fiat, it's half a mile away. In the Mazda, I sit in a nicely shaped seat, and my left foot extends to put the clutch in at a natural angle, and I can easily see over the dash. In the Fiat, I'm perched on a barstool fumbling with the pedals and still feel like I'm looking over a mountain of plastic. In the 2, the clutch has a nice short takeup. In the 500, the clutch engages sky-high in the long pedal stroke.

The Mazda 2 also feels far more like a real car that I'd be willing to drive every day if that's how the chips fell. It's more than an urban runabout. There's more than enough torque to stay ahead of traffic if you're willing to work the gearbox (whereas in the Fiat, I'd call it barely enough). Also, someone spent some time tuning the electric power steering to get it to feel really natural in terms of effort level, and the 2 just feels more planted going around corners.

If anything, having the Fiat around has just made me appreciate the Mazda 2 even more.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 9,070 miles

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2011 Mazda 2: Mazda Gets an "A" for Effort

May 11, 2011

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I have to hand to Mazda. The company preaches a philosophy of sportiness and it lives up to it.

Case in point: This button in the Mazda 2. Clearly, it disables the car's traction control system, something you might want to do in a sporty car.

But this is a Mazda 2. It has all of 100 horsepower and only 98 pound feet of torque. Traction control or not, you're not breaking anything loose in this thing. Still, I'd rather have the ability to at least try. Thanks Mazda.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Mazda 2: Fine Upholstery

March 23, 2011

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There was a time, not so long ago, when the upholstery found within cars in a certain price range called to mind things like smelly retirement-home blankets and Aunt Lenore's tattered bathroom rug. Happily those days are long behind us and the Mazda 2's relatively snazzy upholstery is proof.

It looks attractive and not especially cheap, and I dig the red piping. It hasn't been soiled, stained or scuffed yet, so it appears to be pretty durable, too.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 7,566 miles

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2011 Mazda 2: At The Wheel

February 16, 2011

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The auxiliary audio controls on the Mazda 2's steering wheel probably aren't the most eye-pleasing ones I've come across but I like the way they function. In particular, I like the control used to govern volume, primarily because I find it easier to work than a button. I also like the fact that it feels completely different from the adjacent radio preset buttons, so there's never any risk of confusion.

And let me also say how cool it is that auxiliary audio controls are now pretty commonplace in vehicles living in this humble price range -- within the Mazda 2 lineup, they're standard on Touring models like our little whippersnapper.

What do you think of the car's auxiliary audio controls?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Mazda 2: Not the Most Serene Ride

February 14, 2011

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Last night I put a quick 70 miles on our long-term 2011 Mazda 2, all freeway. Once again, I noticed the little car's compliant ride, but this time I also couldn't overlook the fact that the cabin is just plain noisy at 70 mph.

Most of it is road noise (though you hear the wind a bit, too), and it comes at you from all directions in the 2. The factory stereo's automatic level compensation (ALC in the head unit menu) becomes a borderline necessity at highway speeds. Also, the fact that the Mazda 2 doesn't have Bluetooth begins to make some sense, because it would be next to impossible for the person on the other end to hear you over all the racket anyway. Incidently, for this very reason, my passenger decided against calling to firm up our dinner plans and instead texted our friend.

Yet, it's hard to knock the Mazda 2 for the cabin noise, because this is a side effect of its lightweight, minimalist constuction -- which is something I'm supposed to like. This little hatchback weighs less than 2,300 pounds.

Perhaps I wouldn't even have been annoyed by the Mazda's lack of serenity if I hadn't rented a Nissan Versa 1.6 sedan last week in Chicago. I was never a fan of our long-term Versa, but it's an unusually quiet car (by B-segment standards) on the highway, even in base 1.6 form. Mind you, I didn't like driving the Versa 1.6 as much (it's pokey with a 4-speed auto, and its steering is vague), but when you're just making laps up and down the freeway/tollway, a serene cabin is a pretty nice deal.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 6,423 miles

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2011 Mazda 2: Pleasing Design

January 31, 2011

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A couple other editors have mentioned this as well (here and here) but there really is something pleasing about our Mazda 2's instrumental panel. Just this morning I was feeling a bit agro after waiting way too long for the 2 to get cleaned up at the car wash. But once I got back into the Mazda, I instantly felt at ease. Of course I was glad to get away from the pokey car wash, but I'll also chalk it up to the 2's symmetrical and smooth-edged dash design. It just looks simple and classic, unlike what you'll find in most other cars in this class (Nissan Cube or Toyota Yaris, for example).

The Deuce has taken some deserved heat for not being as upscale or feature-rich as the Ford Fiesta, but it still has some admirable elements.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,930 miles

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2011 Mazda 2: A Macro Look at Interior Materials

January 25, 2011

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Even though our 2011 Mazda 2 Touring is a little econobox, I didn't find its interior materials especially chintzy-feeling or looking. What do you think?

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2011 Mazda 2: No Where To Hang

January 24, 2011

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It's an odd omission, but Mazda seems to have overlooked putting hanger hooks in the back of the Mazda 2. Normally there'd be a hanger hook or even just a grab handle to hang a suit jacket or garment bag, but neither one is present. As you can see, I had to just lay some drycleaning on the seat. Of course, I promptly forgot that I did this until I got home -- the clothes were then a piled heap on the floor. Seems I went around a few corners a bit too quickly.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,823 miles

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Enjoy the Silence

January 17, 2011

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On the way to Supercar Sunday to get my classic/muscle/exotic car fix, I didn't notice something about the Mazda 2 -- excessive noise at freeway speeds. Other staffers have commented favorably about the 2's fairly compliant highway ride, and you can include me in that camp. But while cruising at 70 mph (a rarity on an L.A. freeway) I was struck by how quiet the Mazda was -- no buzz from the powertrain, no annoying road rumble and minimal wind noise. As a result, no need to blast the radio to drown out noise as in some other subcompacts.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 5,472 miles

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2011 Mazda 2: A Comment on Packaging

January 10, 2011

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Driving our Mazda 2 is pleasant enough, what with its small size and nicely tuned chassis, but the little car is not a hit with my significant other when he's riding shotgun. The footwell is narrow and cramped, he says.

And sure enough, there's an usual amount of intrusion into the footwell by all the stuff that Mazda had to package into a subcompact body. It's not quite as bad as in some old conversion van, but it nonetheless requires the average-size adult to sit with his legs offset.

I don't recall this being a problem in other subcompacts I've driven in recent months -- and this is one more reason that I prefer the Honda Fit, which turns packaging into some kind of art form. Nope, the Fit doesn't ride or steer like the Mazda 2, but in this class, I'd trade that dynamic edge for leg space and magic-foldy seats.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 5,281 miles

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2011 Mazda 2: Back Seat versus Fiesta

January 07, 2011

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Our long-term Mazda 2 and the Ford Fiesta I drove in Toronto share a common platform, though each has a very different driving position. I mentioned this fact in my Fiesta in Canada blog, but what's the difference between the back seats?

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: No Goldilocks Zone

January 05, 2011

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At 5'10" and 160 lbs (or so), I think I represent the average American male. I fit just fine in most every car -- with or without seat height adjustments or telescoping steering columns. Drivers of Riswickian proportions generally have issues in these regards, but in our Mazda 2, the tables have turned.

I can't seem to find my optimal seating position in the 2. When I get in a car, the first thing I do is adjust the seat travel so my left foot can easily press the clutch pedal to the firewall. Then I adjust the steering wheel to a lower position, followed by the seatback angle. I also tend to drop the seat height to its lowest position.

In our Mazda 2, my problem seems to be with the seatback adjustment. The space between each detent seems too wide, making me feel like I'm either too close or too far from the wheel. I don't think a telescoping wheel would solve this issue, either, since I also feel too upright or reclined, respective to the angles.

Some would speculate that I'd get used to one of those positions if I drove it on a daily basis. I don't think so. I had the same problem with my 1995 Mustang GT. With leather La-Z-Boy seats that failed to anchor anyone in the curves and a headrest that was too far back, I was constantly looking for an aftermarket solution. At least the Mazda's seats are supportive and comfortable (seatback angle issues excluded).

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 5,180 miles

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Victory by Design

December 29, 2010

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Expensive cars have trim -- exotic woods, crafted metal, unborn suede. All those costly extras. Cheap cars have only design, because there can be no extras.

I prefer design, and the center stack of the Mazda 2's dash shows you why. It's a masterpiece of art transformed by function.

It just looks great. A fine sense of artistic proportion, a kind of clever symmetry. The CD changer at the top and the radio display in the middle with its array of control buttons at either side. Then the knobs and buttons and lever that operate the ventilation system below. And a little bit of shiny piano black heightens the presentation, so you know that there's art here as well as function.

And yet it is the function in the Mazda 2's center stack that really makes it all work. The rotary knobs for the ventilation system are way better than fussy little buttons. No illusion of temperature control with a digital readout; just turn the knobs until you get what you want. I liked this setup on the Saab 99 EMS and still like it now.

It all works because everything in a cheap car must work. Sure, expensive cars have a certain sense of extravagant style, but cheap cars teach you that real design is found where art meets necessity.

If only the dash of our 2011 BMW 528i looked as good and worked so well.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,852 miles

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Give It A Rest

December 20, 2010

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A decent armrest, that is. It's not such a big deal that our long-term Mazda 2 doesn't have a center armrest, but I wish it had a more comfortable door armrest for lengthy journeys. Okay, what I really mean is that I wish the door armrest had any semblance of comfort at all; the one in the Mazda 2 is as hard as, uh, plastic.

I end up in a perpetual elbow shift between the door armrest and the window sill, with neither one doing the business very well. Maybe my arm keeps thinking that some padding will magically appear.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 4,685 miles

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2011 Mazda 2: No USB?!

December 17, 2010

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Say what you want about sportier handling and it not being a Ford, but if you're selling a car to the youth market, why would you not even offer a USB port as an option?

It's not like your virtually in-house direct competition (Ford Fiesta) has one of the better iPod integration systems. Oh. Wait....

There are a lot of things I can get used to with a car: door locks on the center console for example, but as a living, breathing, i-addicted millennial, there's no way my hard earned money will ever go to a new daily driver that doesn't accommodate media players. Period. Surely there's something on your 'absolutely not' list.

The Mazda 2 is fun to drive, though...just wish I could've listened to music and not the tire noise.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,463 miles

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Shift Tower

December 14, 2010

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The shift lever looks a little funny, since it seems to jut right out of the instrument panel. Seems like it should come out of the floor, like a shift lever should.

But after driving around an old Porsche 911 recently, it's pretty clear to me that Porsche has something to learn from this cheap and cheerful Mazda. All you have to do is take a look at the proximity of the Mazda 2's shift knob to the rim of the steering wheel.

After driving around recently in a Porsche 911SC -- a car of the early 1980s, when the Porsche 911 still carried the DNA of the Volkswagen Beetle -- it made me wonder how anyone could drive those early 911s very quickly. You practically have to reach all the way under the dash to find the shift lever, which is about two inches too low and two inches too far forward. It makes you feel like you're driving some ancient tractor, pretty much the opposite of what you'd expect from a sports car. No wonder there's still a thriving trade in aftermarket shift linkages for early 911s that moves the lever back between the front seats where you can reach it (and never mind the comfort of the front seat passenger).

The Mazda 2 addresses the same issue of limited space between the front seats by making the shift linkage do the old rally car thing and come out from the dash -- it's one of the advantages of having the engine in front of you instead of behind. There's no fumbling beneath the dash for the shift lever; just move your hand a few inches and there it is. A crisp, sure shift action in the Mazda style with light-effort throws, strong spring loading into the shift gates and firm gear engagement does the rest.

When you've got an engine that needs an active hand with the gears to get the best from it, everything has to be right. From ergonomics to the mechanical bits, the Mazda 2 is a good lesson in how to do it right. Now, if we could just do something about action of the clutch pedal, eh?

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,391 miles

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2011 Mazda 2: Tall-Friendlier Than Big Brother

December 14, 2010

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It seems counterintuitive, but tall-old me finds the tiny Mazda 2 more comfortable than the bigger Mazda 3. The seat seems to be mounted higher, which creates more thigh support and allows me to sit closer to the wheel. That wheel doesn't telescope, but then I find the 3's wheel doesn't telescope enough to counteract the fact that its seat doesn't adjust adequately for me. Specifically, the back of the seat bottom doesn't go low enough (see VW GTI). This was just a bit worse with the old car.

Another advantage of the 2's high-mounted front seats is that its back seat seems to have just as much leg room as the 3 when I'm driving and hogging all the passenger space.

Now, if you get the 3 Grand Touring with the power seats, much of this is a moo point, but something to consider should be ignoring the 2 because of interior space.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 4,413 miles

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2011 Mazda 2: Idiot Lights Abound

December 01, 2010

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If there's one thing that bugs most enthusiasts about economy cars, it's the presence of the much maligned "idiot lights" in place of actual gauges. As you can see, our Mazda 2 is full of them, including the blue "your engine coolant is cold" light you see here. I don't have a problem with them though.

Sure, the lights exist because people can't be bothered with know anything about their cars, but they're acceptable in a car like the Mazda 2. I mean, let's face it, people who drive a car like this don't really want to know about cars, they just want to get to where they're going and get out of their car as soon as possible.

Better to get their attention with a flashing light than hope they realize that 250 degree coolant might be a problem. Sure, the average temp gauge has a red zone and all that, but it doesn't turn all bright and shiny when things go bad.

So, idiot lights aren't all bad, as long as they're in the right kind of car.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Something's Missing

November 29, 2010

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During my first few minutes behind the wheel of the 2, I felt as if something wasn't quite right. I wasn't quite as comfortable as I wanted to be in the cockpit.

Couldn't put my finger on what the problem was was first, but then I figured it out: The car doesn't have a front center armrest. Hadn't ever seen myself as one of those people who's picky about the whole armrest thing, but that's probably because pretty much every car I've ever driven has had one.

A front center armrest isn't currently available on the 2, but the feature will make an appearance later on in the model year as a no-cost option. Do you need a center armrest to feel comfortable behind the wheel?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: No Pods, Please

November 09, 2010

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Sure, cheap and cheerful transportation appeals to everyone and you don't have to look much further than the crazed enthusiasm for the impending arrival of the Fiat 500 in Chrysler dealerships to find the evidence.

But no one wants to drive around in a pod, some kind of weird plastic bubble that makes twittering noises like George Jetson's flying car. And the best thing about the Mazda 2 is the fact that it's not just a pod.

There's plenty to talk about when it comes to the way the Mazda 2 drives, of course, but for me it's just the fact that you can actually see out of it.

Most of these small front-wheel-drive cars derive most of their chassis rigidity from the front bulkhead, so when you take a seat there's this giant plastic-covered structure in front of you. As great as the Ford Fiesta is in every respect, you can barely peer over the dash and see the road ahead, even when you jack up the height of the driver seat. Maybe it's supposed to make you feel safe, but instead I feel like I'm sitting in a transportation pod, not a car.

In comparison, the Mazda 2 lets you actually see the road in front of you through the windshield, while the low beltline of the side windows helps enhance the sense of spaciousness. The visibility might be the same as George Jetson's plastic bubble, but I don't hear any twittering noises. It's more evidence that the ergonomics of small cars are just as important as the horsepower under the hood.

It's going to be interesting when cars like the Fiat 500 and Chevrolet Spark show up in the U.S. We'll see if people embrace them as cars or dismiss them as clever but essentially irrelevant imitations of George Jetson's pod.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 2,070 miles

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Seeing Red

November 05, 2010

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I drove home to Long Beach late last evening and was back in our Santa Monica office before dawn today, which means most of the driving I've done in the 2011 Mazda 2 Touring has been in the dark.

And at night, the instrument panel illuminates like a fiery blossom from hell. (A newspaper reporter I once knew tried to work that description into his stories as often as possible -- preferably as a quote from someone. I'm just carrying on the tradition.)

Seriously, though, between the ruby glow of the instrument panel and the glare of red tail lights in traffic, it was a hellish round trip.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @2029 miles

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2011 Mazda 2 Touring: Keeping It Simple

November 02, 2010

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One of the first things I noticed after jumping behind the wheel of our brand-new 2011 Mazda 2 is the gearshifter's odd placement, sitting up just below the center console and not between the seats. Kinda disorienting at first but over the weekend I got used to it. Bonus is that it prevented me from clashing elbows with my passenger.

Besides the gearshifter, I appreciated the overall layout. Not only is it clean, simple and intuitive but everything is within easy reach. Of course, it is a small space so how out of reach can something be in there? Only thing was that the steering wheel blocks the tuning buttons on the radio, but no biggie once you know where to feel.

How do you like the interior?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Mazda Mazda2 in WA is:

$139 per month*
* Explanation
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