2011 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Mazda Mazda3 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 167 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/28 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2011 Mazda Mazda3

  • The 2011 Mazda 3 provides more driving enjoyment and greater refinement than its affordable price tag would suggest. If you're shopping for a small, inexpensive sedan or hatchback, it should be at the top of your list.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Benchmark handling; energetic 2.5-liter engine; stylish, well-equipped interior; impressive list of luxury options; five-door model affords hatchback utility.

  • Cons

    Ride may be too firm for some; cabin and trunk not as large as those of competitors.

  • What's New for 2011

    The 2011 Mazda 3 sees some shuffling of its equipment packages. The Grand Touring version loses its formerly standard adaptive xenon headlights but gains the Bose audio system and a sunroof. Also, all trims now have standard stability control.

Full 2011 Mazda Mazda3 Review

What's New for 2011

The 2011 Mazda 3 sees some shuffling of its equipment packages. The Grand Touring version loses its formerly standard adaptive xenon headlights but gains the Bose audio system and a sunroof. Also, all trims now have standard stability control.


When the appearance of the popular Mazda 3 was refreshed last year, its new smiling face didn't immediately win over some people, including us. Of course, the 2011 Mazda 3 looks the same, but now that folks have had a chance to warm up to the perpetually grinning car, it seems that the Mazda 3 is having the last laugh.

The main reason is that the Mazda 3's fun-to-drive personality has been not only preserved but also enhanced as part of last year's makeover. This means the steering is still communicative, the chassis even more athletic and the ride somewhat smoother, with less vibration coming into the cabin. Furthermore, the new-generation car with the base 2.0-liter four is better on gas compared to the older Mazda 3 base model, which was rather thirsty compared to fuel-sippers such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Though the base engine's performance is merely adequate, the available 2.5-liter mill is one of the most responsive and energetic in the segment.

While the exterior of the Mazda 3 might be controversial, the interior is hard to criticize. The 3 has long been known as having one of the nicest cabins in the economy car segment. One might even mistake the interior of a fully optioned Grand Touring version with its interesting design architecture and leather upholstery for that of an entry-level luxury car.

The Mazda 3 is also notable for the number of upmarket features that are available, including bi-xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry and dual-zone automatic climate control. For 2011, the 3's appeal is further increased thanks to the addition of more standard features. All models now have stability control, while the Grand Touring trims receive the formerly optional Bose audio system and sunroof.

That said, the 2011 Mazda 3 might not please everybody, as some drivers could find the 3's ride too firm and the controls too complicated. For them, the 2011 Honda Civic and 2011 Hyundai Elantra are good alternatives. The 2011 Volkswagen Golf and Jetta could also be considered against the Mazda 3's higher trim levels, as the VWs also provide upscale cabins. Nonetheless, the 2011 Mazda 3 remains one of our top picks in the economy sedan class thanks to its pleasing driving demeanor, ample equipment, excellent quality and choice of body styles.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Mazda 3 is available in four-door compact sedan and hatchback body styles.

The 3i model (sedan only) is offered in SV, Sport and Touring trim levels. Standard equipment on the SV includes 16-inch steel wheels, a 60/40-split-folding seat, height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, full power accessories and a four-speaker stereo with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and steering-wheel controls. The 3i Sport adds air-conditioning, a temperature display and the option of an automatic transmission. The 3i Touring adds 16-inch alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio connections, and a six-speaker stereo.

The 3s Sport (available as sedan and hatchback) adds the more powerful 2.5-liter engine, different front and rear fascias, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, dual exhaust tips, rear spoiler, aggressively bolstered front seats, upgraded upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a trip computer and electroluminescent gauges. The 3s Grand Touring adds a sunroof, heated outside mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10-speaker Bose audio system (with an in-dash, six-disc CD changer), heated front seats, leather upholstery and an eight-way power driver seat.

Some of the Grand Touring features (such as the Bose audio system and sunroof) are available on the lower trims as options. The Technology package (available for the 3s Sport and 3s Grand Touring) includes rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic headlights, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights, keyless ignition/entry, satellite radio and a navigation system (with steering-wheel controls and a small, high-mounted display screen). An iPod interface is available as a dealer-installed accessory.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2011 Mazda 3i comes with a 2.0-liter inline-4 that produces 148 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual is standard, while a five-speed automatic is optional on all but the 3i SV. Estimated fuel economy is 24 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined with the automatic -- the manual stands at 25/33/28. This is a few mpg less on the highway than class leaders.

The Mazda 3s is powered by a 2.5-liter inline-4 good for 167 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard here, with a five-speed automatic optional. In performance testing, a manual-equipped 3s went from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds. Estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined with the automatic (20/28/23 with the manual). Both fuel economy and acceleration are on par with similarly powerful small cars.


Standard safety equipment on the 2011 Mazda 3 includes stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes (with brake assist), active front head restraints, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds testing, the 3s Grand Touring came to a stop from 60 mph in 119 feet -- a solid performance for this type of car.

In government crash tests, the Mazda 3 earned five stars (the highest rating) in frontal impact protection for both driver and passenger. In side impact testing, the 3 scored five stars for the front passengers and four stars for the rear. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the 3 earned the highest rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2011 Mazda 3 is a class leader in terms of interior design, quality and feature content. Most Mazda 3 hatchbacks and sedans sold won't be the upper Touring and Grand Touring models, but they'll still greet their owners with high-quality materials, comfortable front seats, ample space and easy-to-reach controls. However, the stereo controls in particular aren't as simple as those in a Civic or Elantra. The optional navigation system is a bit tedious to operate and has a small display screen, but we've generally found it to be useful, and it carries a relatively affordable price.

The Mazda 3 sedan is a bit less spacious than its competitors, particularly in back where long-legged people might feel cramped. However, the driver seat offers a wide range of adjustment (especially if equipped with the power adjustments), and the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is a welcome feature. Taller drivers should note that the optional sunroof chews into front headroom considerably. The 3 hatchback would be our body style choice, since it offers all the sedan's high points while adding a greater level of practicality. Cargo capacity (with the rear seats up) is 17 cubic feet with the hatch, but only 11.8 with the sedan.

Driving Impressions

The 2011 Mazda 3 has refined road manners that will likely come as a pleasant surprise to most economy car shoppers. Thanks to its performance-oriented chassis tuning, the 3 is blessed with minimal body roll and a healthy amount of grip on twisty blacktop, and the steering is quick and communicative. In the real world, this translates into a greater sense of driver confidence. The 3's highway ride is smooth enough to please most commuters, although drivers who prefer softly sprung compacts like the Toyota Corolla might think the 3 is too firm.

The beefed-up 2.5-liter engine in 3s models is the same one that powers the midsize Mazda 6. It's a wise choice for driving enthusiasts or those downsizing from a bigger, more powerful car. The smaller four-cylinder found in the 3i still isn't quite as fuel-efficient as what's found in the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, but it's a bit more powerful.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

First new used car, and

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Vehicle: 2011 Mazda Mazda3 s Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 5A)

I've bought this car about a month ago and put about 2,000 miles, and let me say, its amazing to drive. It handles the taconic curves like nobodies business. I love the bucket seats, makes the car feel like a sports car. I do have to admit, the back seat is a little tight for tall passengers, but its not a big deal at all. It's a perfect commuter car in my opinion. I average out 28-30, while doing 75-80 with the AC which is amazing. A full tank gets me about 450-500 miles that's mostly highway mileage . Great car.


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Vehicle: 2011 Mazda Mazda3 s Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 5A)

I wasn't totally in love with the looks of this car but I do like hatches so I test drove it and fell for it right away. It fit me like a glove. A tailored glove. Handling is the best that could be expected from a front-wheel-drive compact. Engine has 175 HP and plenty of torque. The cosmetics are a different story. Windows rattling after not too long of owning it. Cylinder key lock in steering column replaced twice. And now, as if that weren't enough, I've been told I have a cracked piston ring and the thing is SLURPING oil. Not good for a car with only 51000 miles. Never again do I buy a Mazda. first and last. I'm spending more and getting a mini next.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

New clutch at 20k miles

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Vehicle: 2011 Mazda Mazda3 s Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 6M)

I first took my car in to the dealer when I noticed the clutch slipping after I shifted or when I accelerated at freeway speeds. Now, after 16 days, I finally have my 2011 Mazda 3 back with a completely new clutch assembly. Mazda paid 50%, not including the rental car. My final bill: $700 (not including the rental car cost for this time). They replaced not only the clutch disc, but the flywheel and associated bearings and parts. Apparently they consider replacing the clutch at 2 years / 20k miles to be "normal wear and tear" and not under warranty. In my opinion, the fact that it wore out so quickly, in itself, means it was defective.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Great except for the gps...zero

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Vehicle: 2011 Mazda Mazda3 s Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 5A)

Great little car. Except the built-in GPS which is a rip-off. My brand new grand touring Mazda 3 came with outdated 2009 copy right maps on and SD card. After having a number of problems and fails with this GPS outdated maps (can't find direct route to the dealership for one thing.) I have attempted to get updated maps..... I am even willing to pay the hideously over-priced fee of $200 to get updated maps, they are simply not available (I was promised by the dealer when I bought these maps were easily upgradeable) The OEM supplier Denso says they are "out of stock", they do not respond to multiple emails I've sent, they refer me back to Mazda, which refers me back to Denso..... what a joke!

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

Good for 30,000, then all

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Vehicle: 2011 Mazda Mazda3 s Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 5A)

I don't generally review cars, but my experience with this vehicle was so horrible that I felt motivated to counter some of the shameless praise the Mazda 3 receives on this website. To put it bluntly, my Mazda 3 was a troubled vehicle. It was loud from the first day (I knew it would be), but the noise level rose as time passed. The tires wore down very quickly, and were extremely expensive to replace. But, what ultimately killed me was the clutch. Just over 41k miles, the clutch began acting up. I know a fair bit about cars and realized what it was immediately. Come to find that the clutch is a chronic issue for this car -- with many failing far earlier. And even at 15 or 18k, Mazda...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

I love my zoom zoom

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Vehicle: 2011 Mazda Mazda3 s Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 5A)

I owned a 2008 red mazda 3 hatchback for 9 months it had almost 55,000 miles on it and not a single problem and I recently traded it in for a 2011 celest blue Mazda 3 Hatch with 29000 miles on it. I have not one complaint about this car. It's 100% perfect. The handling is amazing, it's got plenty of speed and is extremely comfortable. The outside appearance is very sporty and nice looking and the inside is great looking as well. I give mazda 2 thumbs up when it comes to building these cars. I wouldn't trade mine in for the world.

Talk About The 2011 Mazda3

2011 Mazda Mazda3 Discussions See all Started By

Has anyone had any paint issues on their brand new 2011 Mazda3. Mine is a month old and I noticed grey/white spots in the paint. It's all over the car and are very random spots. Finally the dealer ...

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2011 Mazda3 s Sport hatchback, 6-speed manual w/ 35,176 miles - $15,777...

Read more about the 2011 Mazda Mazda3

Gas Mileage


  • 20
  • cty
  • 28
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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