I have a 2.0 liter, 5 speed manual that I bought new in 2008, which I use for commuting to work in a rural area.
175000 miles now and still get 34-38 mpg (depends on the tires and season). The only part replaced was a new power steering pump was replaced as a recall.
Other than that, changed tires every 40,000 miles (you have to have frequent tire rotations due to positive camber), oil changes every 5000 miles, coolant flush.
I have not even changed sparkplugs, needed an alignment, or even needed to have the brake pads replaced.
Is a very nice handling car. Good chassis.
I guess we need to blame the goverment, but requiring TPS instead of mandating ABS is crazy.
I am leasing the new 2008 Mazda3 with the 2.0 liter engine and so far, it has been great. It is the later 2008.5 model with more standard features. It handles extremely well and corners sharp-great for city driving. Amazing MPG as well.
So many features come standard. I got the 6-disc CD and sunroof package for almost nothing but the fog lights, audio controls on the steering wheel, MP3 input, and 17 inch wheels all come standard. Very nice sporty interior too.
Wish it had a little more acceleration but I can't complain too much since I get up to 32 MPG. The only real problem is the plastic around the dash makes a loud, squeaky noise when i go over bumps -- very, VERY annoying.
The car drives great and makes me very happy. I am an ex-mustang cobra convertible driver, and although that car was fun, it was a headache on my wallet and I never knew when the next major maintenance would arise. This is a great car, so jump on the 2.0 liter before they change it to compete w/Subaru! This engine is lighter than the 2.3 and in my opinion, more fun to drive.
High quality materials, looks very rich inside compared to more expensive Hondas. Eager engine, projector headlights, enormous standard feature list that you'd pay thousands more for on other cars.
I can't complain, I got a heck of a lot for my money. I love this car.
I did research for a couple years prior to deciding on a Mazda 3. My mom had owned the 323 and a Protege for as long as they've been around, and this Mazda 3 has the same peppy driving feel. It's small, but feels so roomy inside. The handling is fantastic and feels like a much pricier sports car, especially around the turns. I've only had it for a month, but am absolutely in love with it! It's getting around 30 MPG but that's mostly been in the city, not highway. If you want a cute, sporty car, that's fun to drive and an incredible value, this won't disappoint!