Purchased a 1 year old hatch with 24,000 miles, with 50,000 now, I have had to replace the engine and transmission linkage. I had an Explorer with less problems and that is saying something. Buyer beware of this one.
We have owned for approximately 1 year and have had no trouble with it at all. We traded from a large SUV to this car and my wife loves it. Mileage is obviously much better. She loves handling and fun factor. SUV was larger and I thought safer, but in truth Montero SUV would have possibly rolled in emergency situation. This car handles like a slot car and I think would be safer under an unexpected situation and my wife could avoid a potential accident.
You cannot find a better value for your money. My Mazda3 SP23 is fully optioned, with the exception of a Nav system. For under $21K you get 4-50 bumper to bumper warranty, leather, heated seats, power everything, ABS, tire pressure warning system, auto headlights, automatic windshield wipers, 6-CD Bose system, front/rear airbags, Xenons, LED taillights, polished 17-inch rims, power moonroof. It's optioned like a Lexus for less than half the price. So far very reliable; unique styling - get more comments from passers-by on this car than I get for my medium quasar blue metallic '92 Corvette...go figure.
Bought it just as gasoline prices began rising and grateful that I did; mileage runs between 23-29 MPG in real world driving...beats the pants off those 8-10 MPG SUVs and it has a reasonable amount of room to seat 4 adults comfortably.
Add a turbo engine with 250+ HP and all-wheel drive to put it to the pavement and you could have the best pocket rocket on the road today that'll get you through any kind of weather life throws at you.
In 25 years of car owning, this is by far the most fun car I have ever owned. After nearly two years of ownership, I still cannot believe I paid well less than $20k for a car that drives like a sports car. Acceleration is great, it's comfortable and quiet on my daily 45-minute combined city and highway commute (on which I average 29 MPG). I would buy this car over again in a minute. Previous cars: Two Accords, a Golf, and Rabbit.
Acceleration and handling are top notch. Also love the radio controls on the steering wheel. The cloth seats feel great: just enough grip, but not too much. Cruise control, which I use everyday on the highway, works perfectly. Strong brakes. Honestly, cannot say enough good things about the car