Honest, Simple, Enjoyable - 2012 Mazda 3 Long-Term Road Test

2012 Mazda 3 Long-Term Road Test

2012 Mazda 3: Honest, Simple, Enjoyable

November 09, 2012


I took what will probably be my last drive in the 2012 Mazda 3 yesterday morning. I didn't go anywhere special, just the San Gabriel Valley to walk a family member's dog, and as I was leaving, I noticed how our very blue Mazda 3 hatch matched the very blue sky. Around here, the sky only gets this blue just before or immediately after a storm. We're in the before stage right now (right now defined as 18 hours ago), which is why the San Gabriel Mountains are completely obscured by clouds.

I hastily parked the car (hastily yes, but still within the legally permissible 18 inches from the curb), took my picture and stared at the car. Aside from its goofy grin and the blue lenses around its projector-type headlights, the Mazda 3 Skyactiv is free of the gimmicks that adorn the other "fuel economy specials" in this class. It doesn't have a low-hanging front spoiler that catches on every driveway, or silly looking aerodynamic wheels, or low rolling resistance tires (although I would be resistant to purchasing this particular set of Bridgestones again).

Inside, the 3 has blue and white instrumentation and some questionable footwell lighting, but you're not forced to watch any kind of instant fuel economy gauge or made to feel like you should be putting the automatic transmission in an Eco mode.

It already does the Eco-ing for you, keeping the torque converter locked up as often as possible, and most the time, it all works out fine. You just drive the car and go about your business, and most of the time it returns great mileage -- we're averaging almost 31 mpg against an EPA combined rating of 32, which is ridiculously good by our standards. All the while, we've gotten to enjoy an efficient small car that still has sharp steering, a controlled ride and pretty firm brake pedal feel. What's not to like?

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 19,345 miles

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