2006 Mazda Mazda3 s Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
After driving our 3 for about 6 months now, I can say without reservation that we have never owned a car that we enjoyed driving so much and had so much confidence in. It performs superbly, is beautiful to look at, and has so much more "character" than the other compacts we tested, including those from Toyota, Honda, Ford, etc. I don't know why anyone would need or want more in a car. It is an exceptional value because it looks and drives like a car costing twice as much. In short, we'd buy another one in a heartbeat. Some Hondas and Toyotas get better mileage, but who cares? This car pays dividends in fun that the others can't touch and the attention to detail is exemplary.
4 wheel disc brakes are outstanding, the handling is flawless, the motor has effortless acceleration, and when you really want to have some fun, it is so easy to drive exceptionally fast in this car. The leather seats are an excellent value. Inside and out, the car has panache. We fight over it.
The ONLY minor defect with the 3 is the use of a cartridge-style oil filter (as opposed to the spin-on type) on the 2.3 engine. It requires a cap-type filter wrench, but I've been able to find the tool and affordable filters on the after-market. Other than that, I wouldn't change a thing. Bravo.
† Edmunds.com received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power 2014 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study℠. Results based on responses from 3,381 responses, measuring 14 companies and measures third-party automotive website usefulness among new and used vehicle shoppers. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of owners surveyed from January 2014. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.