I've recently bought a used Mazda3s w/most of the options (leather, sunroof, abs w/side, spoiler, and 6 CD changer). For the price that I paid for it, I feel like driving a luxury vehicle. It handles great and has an appealing look. The leather feels so comfortable. I actually slept in my the car, learned it was more comfy than my previous cars. I average 26 city and 32 HW. I'm sure you can achieve similar results if you cruise as much as possible on highways and not stomp on the gas in city roads. The gas is not as good as the Civic, but everything else are lot better. I recommend test drive the 3 before considering other vehicles.
Leather; sunroof, and steering wheel controls.
Mazda should have a trunk release as part of the keyless entry.
2005 Mazda 3 Sedan SP23 Special Edition 4dr Sedan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
I LOVE my car. This is my third Mazda. My wife refers to it as "the other woman." I could have bought more car when I bought this one, and that will only become more true in the future, but I can't picture myself without this car. There is not a car made for under 35,000 that I would even trade this car for. The car handles like a champion and is wicked fun to drive. It is a beauty and has drawn countless compliments. It has proven to be reliable and inexpensive to maintain. Several friends have compared it favorably or even directly to a BMW 3 series. All of that said, read the laundry list of suggested improvements below.
Comfort, styling, handling, performance (to a point... see below), fit and finish, reliability, value, Bose sound, leather heated seats, automatic headlights and windshield wipers, huge trunk, cavernous glovebox.
40-50 more horsepower (this car would be nigh on perfect with that one tweak), reasonably sized visors, less brake dust, fewer rattles in the doors, midrange adjustment on the Bose, replace stock crap Goodyear rubber with Goodyear Tripletreads or Bridgestone Potenzas, better elbow support or padding.
This is one of the best cars I've ever owned. I've owned all of the Japanese brands; this one feels like a European sport sedan. Great handling, build quality and mileage. I average 28 mpg and would probably get 31 mpg if I could keep my foot off of the firewall! It's just fun to drive.
The interior is the most well thought-out I've ever seen in a Japanese car.
As always, more power!! And maybe a 6th gear for the highway.
My wife drives this car around town, but I made sure we took it on some real road trips to make sure it was solid. Am I impressed...you bet! On a 455 mile trip from LA to the Salton Sea and back through Palm Springs in 114 degree heat with the A/C on max it still did 29.2 MPG. On a 700 mile trip to Northern California using highways 101 and 1 we did 33.2 MPG. Power is very good. Handling is solid; it responds like a BMW or an Acura and when you turn the wheel, you move RIGHT NOW, no slop or lag at all. Interior space is good, and even at 6'5 I have both head and leg room thanks to the telescoping steering wheel. Trunk space is very good for big suitcases (2 of them!) or lots of groceries.
After 15,000 miles I can say engine power and smooth acceleration are number one in my book. Layout of instrument gauges and brightness of display lights are easy on the eye yet commands attention, controls on steering wheel are first rate and easy to use.
Car shifts a little roughly from 1st to 2nd gear when cold...or after just starting up in the morning. Dealer saying this is "no problem" is not totally reassuring...but we will see how the auto transmission works out in the long haul.