2008 Mazda 3 New s Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5A)
I wanted to move down to a smaller car to get better mileage, but I still wanted room, so I started looking at 5 dr wagons. I'm a big guy 6'3" and after checking out all of the competition (focus, matrix, versa, astra, etc) I found the Mazda 3 by far the most comfortable. It looks great, good price, and has been averaging 29 mpg at 75% commute, 25% interstate. While the instruments, controls and displays are well laid out, the back lit orange display leaves something to be desired. The radio display is hard to read in many lighting situations, and is almost impossible to see with sunglasses on. It would have been really nice to see an MPG readout.
Driver comfort for a large guy is great. I can ride 5 hrs straight with no problem. With the seat folded down its got almost as much room in the back as my old Escape. I'm getting great mileage on my daily commute averaging 28-29 mpg.
Right in the middle of the center dial is a giant digit showing the gear the automatic trans is in. It's the biggest brightest number on the dash, and it's basically useless! It barely dims and sits there at night flickering in your peripheral vision. I finally stuck a piece of tape over it.