Weighing the Buyer's Choice - 2012 Mazda Mazda3 Long-Term Road Test

2012 Mazda Mazda3 Long Term Road Test

2012 Mazda Mazda3: Weighing the Buyer's Choice

December 20, 2011

 2012 Mazda Mazda3 There are a number of trade-offs that buyers face when looking for a new car. For example, our 2012 Mazda3 has a fuel efficient Skyactiv engine and a nice list of features, but it isn’t the top trim. For an additional $600 (add an extra $800 for the automatic), you can get the S Grand Touring with a 2.5 liter engine and a number of other features. This makes for a tough choice for Mazda3 shoppers.

On the one hand, the Skyactiv engine is 28 percent more fuel efficient (7 mpg combined) than the 2.5 liter engine. It costs less and has most, but not all, of the features from the S Grand Touring.

The 2.5 liter engine makes about 13 more horsepower and 20 more pound feet of torque. This engine is a nice compromise between the eco-minded Skyactiv and the hyperactive Mazdaspeed3. The 2.5 also gives you the option to get a manual transmission.

The S Grand Touring also includes a number of items exclusive to this trim level: 17-inch wheels, fog lights (optional on i Grand Touring), keyless entry with push button start, LED tail lights, navigation and power side mirrors with turn indicators.

If it was my money, I'd wait for the diesel Skyactiv. But if I had to choose between these two, I would probably go with the Skyactiv. I'm fine with paying more for frivolous items like LED tail lights and turn indicators on the mirrors, but I could never get over paying 28 percent more for gas.

What would you choose?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 2,908 miles

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