2012 Mazda Mazda3 Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Mazda Mazda3 Sedan

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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 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 148 hp @ 6500 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 24/33 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Mazda Mazda3

  • A new high-efficiency engine re-establishes the 2012 Mazda 3 as a class favorite.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Precise handling; high fuel economy with optional 2.0-liter engine; stylish, well-equipped interior; impressive list of luxury options; extra utility of four-door hatchback.

  • Cons

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

  • What's New for 2012

    For the 2012 Mazda 3, a newly optional 2.0-liter engine debuts and it delivers both more horsepower and higher fuel economy than last year's 2.0-liter engine. (The old 2.0-liter as well as the 2.5-liter engine is still available.) This year also brings several new trim levels, expanded availability of the hatchback body style, slight revisions to exterior and interior styling, and additional standard equipment for most trim levels.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

25k miles update

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Vehicle: 2012 Mazda Mazda3 i Touring 4dr Sedan w/SKYACTIV-G (2.0L 4cyl 6A)

After 25K miles of ownership I would still give it 3 out of 5 for comfort. Had a computer recall update, (high idling rpm) now it's much better (visit your local dealer and let them update the computer and you'll see the engine difference.) Still too low, new model is 3'' higher. Good for commuting, sucks for long trips. Good mpg. Many useless buttons on a cd player. Rear seats don't have enough leg room. Still reliable. Sitting position not as high as other models. Just understand me right, suspension is perfect on a race track, but not very good on a daily basis - the way too firm. Good for the price, however I would take a look on corolla or civic if you prefer more comfortable ride.




Love my mazda

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Vehicle: 2012 Mazda Mazda3 i Touring 4dr Sedan w/SKYACTIV-G (2.0L 4cyl 6A)

I've now owned my 2012 Mazda3 Skyactiv (auto) for almost 21 months, and I still love the car as if I bought it yesterday. In true Mazda fashion, the 3 delivers the fun-to-drive factor - it has razor-sharp steering and handling. It really makes the car handle predictably and makes me feel very connected to the road. However, that close connection to the road reduces ride comfort because of the firmer suspension. This is usually the compromise with a sporty-handling car. Reliability has proven to be rock solid. I was very nervous about purchasing the Skyactiv model with its completely new engine and transmission design, but my fears were unfounded.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

So much fun to drive

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Vehicle: 2012 Mazda Mazda3 s Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 5A)

I love everything about this car.I have 26 k on it and runs like a champ! 2,5L engine makes such a difference ! Received so many compliments about my car.Most people loves Mazda's design. Handling by far is the best feature in this car and it makes it so fun to drive. The seats could be more comfy but it is a sports car! Raced a guy with Golf GT Turbo and zoomed him out lol . Interior is very appealing and cool. Bose speakers absolutely ROCK ! The sunroof is cool for the summer. To save gas strongly recommend to use cruise control and drive around 60mhph. I'm a huge fan of MAZDA and would recommend this car to everybody.



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Great value

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Vehicle: 2012 Mazda Mazda3 i Sport 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5A)

I bought this used 2012 Mazda 3 isport , Automatic 4dr, 2.0 28K miles for my daughter her senior yr in high school to last through college. We compared the used Corolla, Sentra, Elantra, Civic for a max price of $12000 and found the Mazda3 the best value. It has a "Good" rating from the IIHS-which is the highest, 4 wheel disc brakes, ABS, stability control, multiple airbags. Good reliability, Great handling, comfortable, easy to use controls and layout. 60/40 split folding rear seat. We get 35mpg/highway, 14.5 gallon fuel tank makes for 450 miles on a tank!. I do most of the regular service, so the oil, air filter, cabin filter, wipers were fairly easy to change out.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Fun on four wheels and

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Vehicle: 2012 Mazda Mazda3 i Touring 4dr Sedan w/SKYACTIV-G (2.0L 4cyl 6M)

After driving the car a while, it's easy to forget how peppy this little compact really is. So, to remind myself, I let my friends take it out for a spin every now and then, and when they push the pedal down and let off the clutch, and when you watch the inevitable Zoom Zoom smile spread across their faces, you remember why you bought it. Make no mistake: The 3 is no sports car, and calling it sporty for its class is like calling a Mr. Coffee pot "gourmet." But the Mazda 3 feels like a sportier car than it is, and that's why most people love driving it. If you can get your hands on a SkyActiv with a manual like I did, you'll realize those modest 155 ponies pull more than their weight.



7 of 19 people found this review helpful

I pretty much hate this

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Vehicle: 2012 Mazda Mazda3 i Touring 4dr Sedan w/SKYACTIV-G (2.0L 4cyl 6A)

I had to drive my '98 Civic today because the wife needed the Mazda, and I was literally relieved to not be driving this car. Mainly because it's incredibly uncomfortable. The seats are rock-hard, the whole cabin is cramped, there is NO rear legroom if the front passengers are normal-sized, the steering wheel never stays straight (apparently "sporty handling" means "have to make constant adjustments to the steering wheel even when driving straight"), the headrests are awkward and stiff, and you feel EVERY bump in the road. The little things about this car, like cupholders that a cup gets lost in and a trunk that DOESN'T pop open (unlike every other car I've ever owned), just add to it.



Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 24
  • cty
/
  • 33
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Mazda Mazda3 Review

What's New for 2012

For the 2012 Mazda 3, a newly optional 2.0-liter engine debuts and it delivers both more horsepower and higher fuel economy than last year's 2.0-liter engine. (The old 2.0-liter as well as the 2.5-liter engine is still available.) This year also brings several new trim levels, expanded availability of the hatchback body style, slight revisions to exterior and interior styling, and additional standard equipment for most trim levels.

Introduction

The long-running automotive horsepower war might finally be grinding to a halt with a stalemate, at least in the compact car segment. Replacing power output one-upmanship is a new, much greener conflict over fuel economy. Among compacts, 40 mpg is the new target, one that the Mazda 3 has fallen woefully short of in the past. Not anymore.

For 2012, the Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback are available with Mazda's new "Skyactiv" powertrain components: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to either a new six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Mazda's engineers essentially went through the internal combustion engine with a fine-toothed comb, looking at the myriad inherent inefficiencies and devising clever solutions to address them.

The result is a power plant that can hit that magic 40 mpg without "tricks" like adaptive front grille shutters or transmission programming that shifts the car into top gear at the earliest opportunity. Nor has the rise in fuel economy come at the expense of power. The new Skyactiv engine, which slots between the carryover 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines, boasts more power than the Hyundai Elantra and Chevy Cruze Eco -- two cars that also hit the 40 mpg threshold. Only the Ford Focus sports a better combination of power and fuel economy, but it only achieves 40 mpg highway with its Super Fuel Economy package.

This new engine complements the 2012 Mazda 3's other existing strengths, including sharp handling, a stylish interior and an available hatchback body style. That said, the 3 isn't quite the no-brainer pick it once was. The Elantra, Cruze and Focus are all excellent choices for a small sedan or hatchback. But for competitive fuel economy and a fun-to-drive nature, the Mazda 3 is hard to beat.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Mazda 3 is available in four-door sedan and hatchback body styles. Both are available in 3i and 3s trims that are further broken into subtrims. The high-performance Mazdaspeed 3 is reviewed separately.

The 3i SV and Sport trims are available only on the sedan. The SV comes sparsely equipped with 16-inch steel wheels, power mirrors, power windows, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack and steering wheel controls. The Sport adds air-conditioning, power locks, keyless entry and an outside temperature display.

The rest of the Mazda 3 trims are available on both the sedan and hatchback. The 3i Touring adds to the Sport equipment the Skyactiv-G engine, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, a rear-seat center armrest, a trip computer, Bluetooth (phone and audio streaming) and a six-speaker sound system. The Touring can be had with a package that includes a sunroof and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system. Those items are standard on the 3i Grand Touring, which also gets heated mirrors, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a sliding front center armrest, a color trip computer and a compact navigation system.

The 3s Touring adds on a more powerful four-cylinder engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, upgraded brakes, foglamps, LED taillights, a deck lid spoiler (sedan), keyless ignition/entry, sport seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. However, it reverts back to a manual driver seat and cloth upholstery, while the sunroof and navigation system are options. The 3s Grand Touring includes those items.

The Tech package available on both 3i and 3s Grand Touring trims adds a blind-spot warning system, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, automatic wipers and satellite radio (optional separately on all trims).

An iPod/USB audio interface and a six-CD changer are available as dealer-installed accessories on all Mazda 3 trim levels.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Mazda 3i SV and Sport trims are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual is standard on both subtrims, but the Sport can be equipped with an optional five-speed automatic. In Edmunds performance testing, an automatic-equipped 3i with this engine went from zero to 60 mph in 9.9 seconds -- a slightly slow performance among similarly powerful sedans. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined with the manual and 24/33/27 with the automatic.

The 3i Touring and Grand Touring trims get a new, more advanced 2.0-liter four-cylinder (Skyactiv-G) that produces 155 hp (154 in California-emissions states) and 148 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional.

In Edmunds performance testing of an automatic-equipped sedan, a Skyactiv Mazda 3 reached 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, which is quick for the class. EPA fuel economy estimates for this new engine put it among the class leaders: 28/40/33 for an automatic-equipped sedan and 27/39/31 for a manual-equipped sedan. The hatchback is estimated to return 28/39/32 and 27/38/31, respectively. In extensive fuel economy testing, we confirmed that this engine does achieve these impressive figures.

The 3s trims get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 167 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. These numbers are downgraded slightly in California-emissions states. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. In Edmunds testing, the 3s went from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds regardless of transmission -- a strong performance, but not much of an improvement over the Skyactiv engine. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 20/28/23 with the manual and 22/29/25 with the automatic. These estimates are quite low for the small car segment.

Safety

Every 2012 Mazda 3 comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, brake assist, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A blind spot warning system is optional on the Grand Touring trims. In Edmunds brake testing, a 3i Sport stopped from 60 mph in a rather long 135 feet. The 3i Touring was no better, but the sportier 3s stopped in a solid 123 feet.

In government crash testing, the 2012 Mazda 3 received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, five stars for overall frontal protection and three stars for overall side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 3 the highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

Among several impressive new competitors, the Mazda 3's interior design and materials quality isn't the class leader it once was. Still, even if it isn't top dog, that doesn't make it a mangy mutt. Even the lowest trim levels feature soft-touch surfaces, while Grand Touring models offer enough luxury and convenience equipment to keep pace with other so-called premium compact cars. Some may find the stereo controls a bit complicated or the optional navigation system a bit tedious, however. The latter's small screen and wheel-mounted buttons make for a clumsy interface, but at least it's relatively inexpensive.

The Mazda 3 is also a bit less spacious than its competitors, with long-legged folks likely to be cramped in back and possibly in the driver seat as well. The available power driver seat helps the latter situation, but the optional sunroof hurts it further. The 3 hatchback would be our choice, since it offers all the sedan's high points and adds greater practicality. Luggage capacity (with the rear seats up) is 17 cubic feet with the hatch, but only 11.8 with the sedan.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Mazda 3 has refined road manners that will likely surprise most economy car shoppers. Responsive steering and performance-oriented chassis tuning make it one of the most enjoyable small cars to drive on winding roads. On a daily basis, the 3's highway ride is smooth enough for most commuters, although drivers who prefer softly sprung compacts like the Toyota Corolla might think the 3 rides too firmly.

In terms of engines, the upgraded 2.0-liter engine found in the 3i Touring and 3i Grand Touring models is the best bet. Its 155-hp output slots in between the other two engines, but blows them both away in fuel economy. Its acceleration is more than adequate for most buyers, and in fact the more robust 2.5-liter offers only a negligible acceleration benefit. The engine's accompanying automatic transmission is also a bright spot, offering shifts that are remarkably quick, responsive and smooth.

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