I've owned an '89 Toyota Tercel, an '02 Chevy Prism and now the Mazda. Love. It. It's got a lot longer gear ratio than most 4-cylinder cars and at highway speeds can very capably accelerate past everyone else who's not having as much fun in their car. The interior has an excellent design, the exterior looks fluid and lean and all of the mechanics seem above average on dependability and ergonomics. I might never buy a different car.
Good balance of engine power and mpg. Manual tranny is forgiving and smooth. Stock speakers won't blow you away but definitely better than most. Can't say enough about the looks, either. This car would have been on prom court.
Find some alternative to the gigantic plastic shield under the engine bay. I don't think I've ever seen a more blatant attempt to force people to get their routine maintenance done at the dealership. It does keep the engine clean, though, so my problem is with the delivery, not the idea.
Adequate power for 2.3 liter, regular gas a plus. I get 25 mpg 60/40 city - on long trips I get 31 mpg hwy. Front seats are very good once all the adjustments are made. Stock Goodyears are worn out at 33k miles. I'll replace them with Yokohamas s-drive. Excellent steering feel. Mazda3 handles on rails. Get abs brakes, great feel but not the ultimate stopping power. Audio and cruise control on steering wheel. I added a louder horn for better sound. Slight vibration with 4A tranny at idle-still shifts good. Air conditioner kicks out sometimes-a quick flip of the fan speed switch turns it back on. Remote alarm ONLY beeps on lockup. It's quiet when you unlock it. nice.
The in-dash 6 CD changer is nice-no problems with it. Planning to include 2009 on my short list.
Power seats with memory would be helpful with other drivers. Cruise control on a stalk would be easier without looking. Louder two-tone horn. Brighter Parking brake light-I've left it on a few times. Stone shield has to be removed to change oil/filter.
Been driving this car for 3 yrs now and still think it's the best car under $25,000. I haven't had any mechanical problems. Had a brake job at 50,000 and new tires. I live in the city and get a combined 27 mpg. I have a gas gauge which commonly reports mpg in the middle to upper 30s on the highway. There is minimal wear on the car after 60k such as a small area of the stitching on the leather seat has come out, a few exterior issues due to things happening to it.
Sporty ride, sunroof, good mpg, cheap fill up, leather, no mechanical problems.
A/C is poor, driver's seat is comfy but a little weird. 2 tie downs instead of one. Shift shock when the engine is cold. Body metal is very soft. Everything is plastic (bumpers are styrofoam).
This car had everything I was looking for: wonderful manual transmission that is extremely fun to drive, enough oomph, horsepower, great gas mileage, cool looks, plenty of space for the family of four, great value for the dollar. I still love it.
Purchased brand new. Looked great, sporty, fun to drive, typical great Mazda clutch. However, I feel my car was built on a Monday morning or Friday afternoon, I had nothing but problems with it in the year & a half I owned it. Pieces of trim falling off, just about every sensor/idiot light would come, check engine, air bag, etc. needing a trip to the dealership. One time it would not start and had to be towed to the dealership, luckily it was in my driveway at the time. I was very fortunate that the dealership/Mazda had a loaner car program, which I needed on several occasions, otherwise those expenses would have added up, but I still had to take time off for drop off/pickup.
Sporty look, cool dash, shifter/clutch
Everyone else seems to be very lucky and happy with Mazda, guess it was just me. I've been burned by a Mazda vehicle before, but figured since I bought that one used, I was getting someone else's problems. I bought this Mazda-3 brand new and still had issues. I'll never go back to Mazda.