2012 Mazda Mazda3 Long Term Road Test

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: When You Could Use More Space

September 18, 2012

Car Guy's Nightmare

Last month 06scooby wrote about his new Mazda 5 over on the Readers Ride blog. And a few days ago I happened to park next to this white 5 with our Mazda 3. It got me to thinking: as much as I like our 3, I have to admit that the mini-minivan 5 would actually be better suited for my current life situation (suburbia, wife, two kids) thanks to its additional interior room and sliding doors. I wouldn't give up much in terms of acceleration or handling, either. But fuel economy is noticably lower with the 5 (24 versus 32 mpg combined).

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Storage Wars

September 13, 2012

I grew up in Denver. I recall most of the homes there had basements, which you could just rename "storage depots" given how frequently owners used them to store all of their stuff. Then I moved to Southern California. Nobody has basements. Instead, most people just store all of their crap in their garage, leaving their cars on the driveway.

I happen to be a traditionalist. The garage is for the car. But my wife loathes to get rid of things. So we have a lot of stuff. And I have to rent a storage unit (or two).

When it comes time to move stuff from house to unit -- or vice versa -- it's nice to have a car like our Mazda 3. Granted, you're not going to be moving couches with it. But for the typical stuff -- bins and boxes -- it works out great. And once I'm done hauling, I'm back to having my nimble, comfortable and fuel efficient small car. Go Mazda 3 hatchback.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Batten Down the Hatch

September 4, 2012

It seems that our Mazda 3's hatch doesn't want to close all the time. The first time I received the "Trunk Open" warning, I gave the hatch a good open and slam, but I saw that it rebounded off the weather stripping ever so slightly. Absent was any sort of a clunk to let me know it was secure. Instead, it was an airy "whoomp."

Alright, fine.

I opened the hatch again and tired the gentle approach. Still, no clunk, only a whoomp. I made sure there was nothing blocking the latches and tried again. Whoomp.

Sigh.

Finally, I tried letting the hatch close on pretty much its own weight. Clunk. Success!
This happened a few times over the last couple of days, so I'm guessing it's due for some sort of inspection.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 14,726 miles

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: The Silhouette of Artful Utility

August 09, 2012

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You meet them all the time.

People come up to you and then with a puzzled frown they tell you some long and tangled story about trying to find a car to buy that will fit a dog/bicycle/television/jetski, but has to get 40 mpg and be no bigger than a lawn chair besides.

As always, people expect that the laws of physics can be suspended. It's kind of flattering, really. The car companies seem to make magic with stuff every day, so why not the laws of physics?

Can't be a crossover utility because they're too big. Can't be a station wagon because they're too old. Can't be a hatchback because they're too crappy. 

Fortunately, I am usually somewhere within sight of a Mazda 3 5-door hatchback (aren't we all?), so all I have to do is point and say, "There's the answer to your problem."

They tend to get the idea in an instant.  A nice people package, only with a long roof and square back so there's room enough to carry stuff.  Plus a little bit of towing capacity for recreational purposes.

I credit the Mazda 3 5-door for helping people embrace the wagonette-style car because it has always looked good, which is a big deal. But even more important, it has never tried to disguise its utility, so you could always understand its possibilities at a single glance. What the Mazda 3 5-door has is a look that vehicles as different as the Acura ZDX, Audi A7 and BMW X6 have tried to capture only to seem clumsy in comparison.

It's easy to get lost in the details of the Mazda 3's style, but the thing that makes it work as a piece of design is its silhouette. It combines art and utility in a way that makes you believe that the laws of physics can be suspended.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 13,075 miles

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Clever Packaging

July 27, 2012

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This isn't the first car I've seen package its subwoofer inside a spare tire, but it's still worth noting. Beats the heck out of having a big box eating valuable space in the cargo area.

Go Mazda.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Dirt Hauler

July 16, 2012

mazda_mulch_1600.jpg A few weeks ago we removed our small front yard, took it down to its poor dirt level, and requested bids from a couple of local landscapers to upgrade the sprinklers, redesign the flower beds, and resod the lawn. After many days of silence from the companies who promised to email bids, I got frustrated and decided we'd do it ourselves instead.

On Friday evening I used a Ford F-150 to pick up eight bags of soil amendment from the local Lowes. We rented a rototiller and started preparing the yard, working on turning the soil until dark that night.

Saturday morning, I woke to find an email from one of the landscapers with a very reasonable bid to do the complete job.

Saturday afternoon, I loaded the seven unopened bags of soil amendment into the Mazda 3 and returned them to Lowes.

Don't judge me.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 12,169 miles

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Ode to Joyful Parking

July 11, 2012

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The Mazda 3 is not the car you drive to the Hollywood Bowl. In my humble opinion, no car is, unless you have super-deluxe valet parking privileges. Parking at the concert venue is an unrelenting nightmare. The Mazda 3 is, however, the perfect car to take to the Park & Ride bus that takes you to the Bowl.

The Mazda 3's hatch will easily hold a picnic basket, backpacks and stadium seat cushions. It's small enough to park easily in the shopping-mall lot that serves as the bus staging area. It's inconspicuous enough to avoid being a thief magnet while you're gone.

As to the image on the screen: It's the brainchild of Herman Kolgen of the J. Paul Getty Museum. He created a video to go with the last movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and in it, joy expresses itself as a sinuous kudzu-like vine that overtakes streets, buildings and even parking meters, painting a gray world in shades of green. Works for me.

 

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @12,083 miles

 

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2012 Mazda3 SkyActiv: Airport Duty

July 02, 2012

Airport01.jpg I flew into LAX recently and was happy to find a hatchback for airport luggage duty. This is far from the first post of our long-term Mazda3's cargo-carrying capability. It'll hold an entire exhaust system, thirty-seven 5-gallon jugs, a keg of beer (and then some), and, of course groceries. It was because of all this that I was a little surprised that the cargo area barely held our luggage: a large roller, a small roller, a backpack, and a computer bag.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 11,034 miles

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Great Party Prep Car

June 25, 2012

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I had some friends over to CasaHashi this weekend and made sure to snag the Mazda 3 since I knew I was going to have to run a lot of errands and transport a lot of stuff. It wasn't a large gathering, but there was a LOT of food to haul.

After a trip to New Orleans this spring, and falling in love with the cuisine, I decided to cook up a Nawlins' feast. Gumbo, collard greens, fried chicken and boiled crawfish had me buzzing all around L.A. in the Mazda. I had to pick up some folding tables and a propane tank, too.

Unfortunately, the Mazda got towed from in front of my house, which put a big dent in my plans. Poor placement of "Temporary No Parking" signs were the culprit. An hour and $200 later (and an endless litany of expletives), I was back on track, but fuming mad.

Once I picked up 15 pounds of live crawfish from my favorite butcher, along with about 2 pounds of lard, I started feeling better. Then I smelled something of concern. The Styrofoam box was leaking crawfish water in the trunk. Within a mile, the Mazda stunk like a 30-year-old fish truck. Whoops.

As soon as I got back home, I pulled the trunk carpeting, hosed it down and sprayed it with Lysol. I also sprayed the trunk floor and left the sunroof cracked. I must have caught it in time, because the car smells normal now.

With all the driving to and fro, the Mazda made for a great party prep car. It had enough space for everything and was easy to park in crowded lots and on the street. I think picking this car over one of our SUVs was a smart move.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 11,028 miles

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: I Love Hatchbacks

June 15, 2012

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Don't you? They are so practical. Maybe it's because I love my old Acura Integra. I hauled around so many different sized and shaped things in that car. I don't drive it enough anymore.

I always thought of hatchbacks as young people cars. There were a lot of them in my college parking lot. But it seems that retirees and empty nesters are interested in them, too.

Whenever I have the Mazda 3 in my driveway, my older neighbors ask me about it. How does it drive? Does it get good mileage? Yesterday someone commented on the color then asked if there was a Mazda dealer nearby. They have wide appeal.

What's your favorite hatchback on the market?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Beer, Red Meat and Guns

May 29, 2012

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How does Mr. Takahashi celebrate Memorial Day weekend? By enjoying some of this great land's contributions to culture (and referring to himself in the third-person). I had some friends over to CasaHashi to watch the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday (I woke up early to catch Indy) and take part in some good ol' fashioned barbecue. That meant it was time to get a new barrel of Boddingtons for the kegerator.

Over the years, I've used a variety of long-term vehicles to transport a Boddingtons keg. Surprisingly, all of them have accomplished this task with ease. I assumed our Mazda 3 would be no different, but I was wrong. I loaded the empty keg into the trunk and realized that if I closed the hatch, the glass would have shattered on the keg. You see, the seatback and hatch angles converge just enough to keep the keg from fitting. Flipping down one of the rear seatback sections was an easy fix, but I was afraid that under acceleration, the keg would slide back and take out the rear glass.

Easy fix number two: tie it down with the seatbelt and stuff my camera bag between the hatch and keg. It's not ideal, but it worked.

As the BBQ got underway, I was grilling in the backyard. I needed a spot to put a tray of dry-aged bone-in ribeyes from my favorite butcher and my Boddingtons while I arranged the hot coals (gas is for wimps). Bingo! The Mazda 3 was unlocked and the hatch made a great little table. Sorry for the blurry photo, but, you know, Boddingtons. Those empty shotgun shell boxes were left over from a sporting clays expedition on Friday afternoon. 'Merica, love it.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 9,883 miles

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Ideal For Grocery Shopping

May 25, 2012

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The 3's compact size means it's pretty easy to park in tight spaces. And since we have the hatchback body style, it doesn't get much more convenient for loading grocery bags as that tall opening makes it easy to lift the bags in and out. I had five bags in the photo, and there's certainly room for a few more.

I also like the scuff/scratch protectors on the rear bumper.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Size Is Relative

May 09, 2012

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I was amused a few days ago after parking our Mazda 3 for some shopping and looking at its lot mates. The 3 is quite practical thanks to its hatchback body style, and rarely do I find it limiting or "small." But clearly it is "small" when parked next to an M-Class and a CR-V, neither of which is exactly "big" in the automotive world.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 9,178 miles

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Don't Rush Me

April 22, 2012

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Perhaps you remember Ed's blog from last week regarding the ergonomics of the 3's button-release hatch. Whatever your feelings on the usability of the electromechanical release, I've found another downside.

It's slow to reset itself. At first use this isn't obvious, but cycle the mechanism a few times with the hatch open and you'll realize that after it release its grip on the striker, the latch mechanism requires a three count to return to a position where it will fully latch. Not a big deal in normal use, but a much bigger deal if you try to release it and close it quickly.

I noticed this issue last week when I failed to fully secure the latch before leaving home. One block away I noticed the light on the dash and stopped to find the hatch held shut by the saftey catch but not fully sealed. Here's what happened next:

Release hatch and close it normally. Latch fails to fully engage, but catches on saftey stop.

Close hatch harder. Same result.

Slam hatch. Same result.

Slam it harder. Same result.

Engage brain. Examine latch. Cycle mechanism with button. Wait (smoke pours from ears). Think (more smoke). Wait more. Latch clicks and resets.

Close hatch normally. Hatch fully seals.

Something to think about the next time you find yourself repeatedly slamming the hatch on your Mazda 3.

I'll take a conventional mechanical release any day.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

 

 

 

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: No Place for a Button

April 16, 2012

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For a car that does so many things well, it's odd that the Mazda 3 manages to screw up something as simple as a trunk release. In this case, it uses the tiny little button you see here to pop the trunk open.

Not only is the button ridiculously small, it's just plain counter intuitive. Latches make sense, you pull the latch to release and then just keep on pulling to open the hatch. Here you push the tiny little button, listen for the release and then grab the bottom edge to open it. Not exactly hard, but unnecessarily complex.

There's probably some reason the engineers decided to go this route, hope it's a good one.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line 

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Rear Seat (In)convenience?

March 26, 2012

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This has happened to you. I know it has. Happens to me every time I flop down the rear seat in a compact hatchback or sedan. And, until now, I've had only one solution: Walk around to the front passenger door, open it and move the front seat forward so the rear seatback will lie flat.

Fortunately, there's a simple -- and obvious -- solution.

That's right, the small fabric pull tab releases the headrest which allows the seatback to fold flat without the hassle of walking around the car. Also, this position improves rear visibility when seats are in the upright position. I know it's not entirely new, but it sure took a long time to arrive.

Well, duh.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor 

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: In Case You Were Wondering

March 18, 2012

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The Mazda 3 is just big enough to accommodate 37 5-gallon jugs.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor 

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Moving the Magnaflow

March 09, 2012

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Bought this Magnaflow exhaust system for my '98 Mustang Cobra and had it shipped to the office, the thought being I could just put it in the car (which is usually here at work) and take it to the muffler shop for the install. But although the 'stang has fold-down rear seats, the pass-through was just a little too short in height to fit the box through. 

Scanning the long-term board for pack mule candidates, I recruited our Mazda 3. After I flipped down the seats and scooted the passenger seat up (there was still room for a short passenger) the Mazda accommodated the large box with inches to spare. Gotta love hatchbacks. 
 
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 5,888 miles

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Will The Bike Fit?

January 03, 2012

Mazda3 bike fit exterior.jpg

You knew it was coming, so here it is: How easily does a bicycle fit in our new Mazda 3?

In this case The Wife and I stopped by the bike shop, while out running errands, to pick up my hardtail deuce-niner which had some work done on its fork. So it wasn't just simply "will the bike fit?" but rather "will the bike fit with The Wife in the passenger seat?"

Let's see...

Hatchback and folding rear seats make it pretty easy, but I would have to remove that cargo cover.

Slide the front passenger seat forward a bit to accommodate the rear tire, and the bike was in. It's been said before but I'll say it again: Gotta love hatchbacks. The Wife didn't have quite the leg room she wanted, but hey, she's used to making sacrifices for my cycling habits.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 3,613 miles.

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2012 Mazda 3 Skyactiv-G: Life With a Compact Hatchback

December 26, 2011

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After I dropped a couple friends and their luggage at LAX on Christmas morning, I figured I'd stop off at the iconic Randy's Donuts in Inglewood to see what all the fuss is about. Randy's never closes. Except on Christmas Day. Nevermind. I probably didn't need a bear claw anyway.

I've spent the holiday weekend trying to convince myself that our 2012 Mazda 3 (and its Skyactiv-G engine) fits into my life, now and in the future.

The trip to the airport touched the limits of its utility. It was me and two friends, and one of the friends is well over six feet tall. They had two weeks' worth of luggage. I had presents and various paraphernalia for a family gathering I was driving to immediately after the airport run (and the donut stop).

My friends cast doubtful looks when they see I've already got stuff in the hatch, but I have some experience packing cars (I was nomadic in college and regularly tetris'd nearly all of my worldy possessions into a moldy '80s-era Camry). We manage to fit everything in (barely) and I still have a view out the back.

One of the friends grew up in Germany, so he likes cars, and is fond of hatchbacks, but is skeptical of small, gasoline engines (because diesel exists) and automatic transmissions. Of course, I start proselytizing about Skyactiv technology as soon as he indicates a willingness to listen. I go on for about five minutes and by then we've reached the freeway on-ramp.

"Watch what happens when I floor the throttle."

We listen as the 2.0-liter engine revs smoothly and sweetly, building strength in the midrange. It still feels strong as the transmission executes a nice, clean upshift at 6,100-6,200 rpm. In D, at least, that upshift comes just shy of the marked 6,500-rpm redline. Wish it was right at redline, but oh well, that's why there's a manual gearbox.

My friends do the right thing and indicate that they're impressed and that this car is the greatest.

Ah, well, maybe that's not quite how they said it, but even with all the weight on board, straight-line performance is still sufficient. Nope, this isn't a sport compact, but with the new, D.I. 2.0-liter engine, this car is quick enough that I wouldn't even consider getting the less efficient 2.5-liter engine and its less sophisticated automatic transmission.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 3,246 miles

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2012 Mazda Mazda3: Who Started This Hatch Thing?

December 19, 2011

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There should be a special day to celebrate the guy who invented the hatch, don’t you think?

Every time I use the 5-door Mazda 3 in the way it was designed, I think there should be a day on the calendar to honor the person who brought us the perfect utility of the hatch.

It’s easy to think the hatch has always been with us, but I can remember when it was new, when it was dissed and discarded, and when it became snappy and stylish.

As far as recent history is concerned, the Mazda Protégé 5 and the Subaru Imprezza reintroduced the concept of a small wagonette and made it cool. They brought back the spirit of those first Honda Civic wagons of the early 1970s, the car you drove if you were the kind of person who put a bandana around the neck of your German shepherd.

The way I remember it, the 1975 Volkswagen Golf really popularized the hatch in small cars, and once the GTI made us all realize that front-wheel-drive cars could be fast as well as practical, every carmaker rushed to market with a Hot Hatch. Of course, once the hatchback became synonymous with small, cheap cars, it went right out of fashion, but by then the hatchback had been integrated into all kinds of cars, from little coupes like the Acura Integra to sports cars like the Porsche 928. The Europeans really liked larger hatchback sedans like the Saab 9000, but Americans said the concept would never work in premium-style packages. Of course, sport-utilities eventually made everyone receptive to the hatch in big vehicles again and now the Audi A7 is everyone’s favorite car.

Who really got to the idea first? Big station wagons of the 1950s had split tailgates as I remember. It seems like the Jaguar E-Type might have been first with a hatch, you think? Butzi Porsche wanted the Porsche 911 to have one, but the body engineers told him it was impossible. The Pininfarina-designed 1965 MGB GT really popularized the hatch because the car was relatively affordable, and then cars like the Datsun 240Z, Ford Pinto and Toyota Celica Liftback followed.

Whatever, the hatchback guy deserves a place in the car design hall of fame.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Mazda Mazda3 in VA is:

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