2005 Mazda 3 SP23 Special Edition 4dr Sedan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
My wife and I purchased our metalic red 3 new .Granted her commute to work is 7 miles round trip , this car has performed flawlessly.no squeaks or weird noises at all.All I've ever done to it was change the oil and rotate the tires .Thats's all it ever needed. Maintenance is very inexpensive. It's a little cramped for me at 6'4 305 lbs butit drives very well . It's quiet but very sporty. The handling in off the chain!The tranny has been reliable but needs another gear,the engine needs another 20-30 hp. MY wife picked it over the coblt because of it's cheezy interior,it has better styling cues than the civic which to her is a me too car.I highly recommend this car to anyone, its that good.
Reliability,styling,handling,features and resale.
Mazda has already addressed those items in their new mazda 3 with the 5 spd auto and a few extra ponies. and hopefully they widend the space between the front seats or trim the center console down to keep knee and other leg room provisions comfy in future models.
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).