December 23, 2014
It's the right size. It looks great inside and out. It comes as a hatchback, if you like that sort of thing (which I do). It's frugal, but also spunky. It's well built with quality materials. It can carry a decent load. It satisfies with engaging handling, yet still rides smoothly.
It is the 2014 Mazda 3, and I'm a big fan.
This I have known and appreciated since it arrived here a year ago. But new cars come in through the front door for testing and evaluation all the time. Week-long road trips, dirt road excursions and towing needs have drawn me away to larger, more utilitarian vehicles.
Today I had an errand to run 50 miles away from home and the office. The Mazda 3 fit the bill perfectly and made the trip as enjoyable as ever. After I got home I headed out once more to get a haircut and the odometer rolled over to 20,000 miles as I pulled up to the curb. It could just as well have been 2,000 miles. It doesn't drive or feel any different than it did when it was new.
November 17, 2014
Our long-term 2014 Mazda 3's Active Driving Display isn't working properly. The unit's translucent screen should rise when the ignition is switched on and then display numerous bits of information including speed, lane-departure warnings, turn-by-turn directions and more. Ours rises but not enough to allow even the shortest of drivers to see the display. Something is wrong with the mechanism that raises and lowers its translucent reflective screen.
November 13, 2014
Sometimes it's the little things. And with our long-term 2014 Mazda 3 it's more than that. Certainly this car offers one of the best chassis in the segment. But it's the detail work that's often overlooked in the compact class. Here, however, Mazda nails it.
November 12, 2014
I had the chance recently to drive our 2014 Mazda 3 within the same 24-hour period as its two generational predecessors. They weren't extensive drives, nor did I thrash anything about, but it really is an impressive evolution that has occurred over the course of 10 years.
October 17, 2014
Recently a friend of mine was checking out Edmunds' long-term 2014 Mazda 3 hatchback. We were waiting in a parking lot for another friend to show up for a hike we were supposed to do, and it was a good opportunity to examine some of the 3's qualities that don't come up every day. One of those was how comfortable we were sitting in back.
September 19, 2014
The subject of this update is about the lack of storage spaces around the driver's seat in the 2014 Mazda 3. But since a photo proving my point is so dull, I'm putting up this more entertaining shot of the very beginning of U.S. Route 6 in Bishop, Calif., which stretches to the tip of Cape Cod. You may also be amazed and interested to learn that Route 6 is also known as the "Grand Army of the Republic Highway" in honor of Civil War Veterans.
Now, back to the topic at hand.
September 10, 2014
Want proof Mazda is bent on building cars for enthusiastic drivers, rather than just for those who want to get from A to B? Check out the center-mounted tachometer on the 2014 Mazda 3 S Grand Touring.
Josh Jacquot touched on this back in February. I'm expanding a bit (Josh is a man of few words).
September 4, 2014
Back in May I took our 2014 Mazda 3 to the dealer for its first service and to have a TSB repair performed to eliminate the dash creak. I drove the car last week for the first time since then and it's clear the creak is back. However, since then I've made a discovery.
August 1, 2014
There's a lot to like about our 2014 Mazda 3. A lot. I'm on record as being a little grumpy on its highway ride, but if you don't spend much time on rain-grooved interslabs, the Mazda 3 is a no-brainer. Driving around town reveals more and better sides to this car. It reminds me a lot of my late '91 Integra. It pulls hard like that old Integra and it's always willing to chirp the tires. I'd like to see factory torque curves on both cars. Old Integra had miles better visibility, though. Also sang better above 6,000 rpm.
June 17, 2014
I have two small children and am constantly wrangling child safety seats in and out of Edmunds long-term cars. Since I really like our 2014 Mazda 3, I was curious to find out how well the 3 would be for family duty and child safety seats. The top photo shows my main setup at this point: a Recaro booster seat and a Britax Marathon reversible child safety seat.
Installing the Recaro in a car is rarely a problem, and that was true here as well. Trying out the Britax seat was also straightforward in its front-facing position. The 3's rear seat bottoms do have some contouring to them, but I was able to use a towel to get the seat's base flat and aligned properly. The 3's rear seatbacks are angled in such a way that the Britax fit just about perfectly. Another bonus is that the rear headrests are easy to remove.
May 21, 2014
Our 2014 Mazda 3's front seats mean business. They're not your usual economy car chairs. Check out those bolsters. And though they're comfortable enough, I wouldn't describe them as soft. Being full leather makes them a little more slippery than I'd prefer when cornering hard. Mazda could have fixed that the same way it did on the last-generation Mazdaspeed3.
May 20, 2014
Last week, I had a few big boxes to ship with long, fragile car parts inside. Both boxes were 70 inches long by 12 inches high and 12 inches wide and I needed something to haul them in. So when the sign-out sheet came around and our long-term 2014 Mazda 3 hatchback was available, I thought, "Perfect, a hatchback. That'll haul my stuff." Getting the boxes to fit though, wasn't as easy as I expected.
May 15, 2014
Our 2014 Mazda 3 has enough plugs to satisfy even the most device-heavy travelers. In total there are two USB plugs, one aux jack and one 12-volt outlet in the center console. I like that Mazda locates the plugs in the center console, too. It's cleaner.
May 14, 2014
Turns out the folks over at Mazda think of everything. I'm a big proponent of securing heavy cargo so it doesn't fly around in an accident. And loads don't come much heavier in a passenger car than a wheel and tire. Our 2014 Mazda 3 has the right equipment for the job.
March 26, 2014
Behold. The empty cargo bay of the 2014 Mazda 3 S. I loaded a shallow cabinet about three feet tall, six cardboard boxes full of books, and a handful of other loose knickknacks in here earlier. You didn't want to see the photo. Seriously. Looked like I was living out of the car.
When I finally cleared the hold, I stood back and stared. I decided a wagon/hatchback/truck bed will always have a place in my life. They will be a prerequisite before any coupes or roadsters are considered. They just make too much sense.
March 12, 2014
Our long-term 2014 Mazda 3 S is a Grand Touring model, which means it has heated seats. And no matter how many times I turned the car on and off this weekend, the heated seats stayed set to their highest level. Just turn the seat heaters on once and leave them that way. If I left them in the middle or lowest setting, that was exactly where they'd be when I returned to the 3.
March 10, 2014
The driver-oriented interior layout in our long-term 2014 Mazda 3 S is excellent. Mazda press material says that "each control and function has been specifically placed with intuitive utility in mind." After my first weekend in our Mazda 3, I'm inclined to agree.
March 7, 2014
Drive our long-term 2014 Mazda 3 on anything other than perfect pavement (or initiate a really hard turn) and one thing stands out: This thing's got some squeaks.
February 25, 2014
For those people who find head-up displays distracting, redundant or just plain dumb (or all of the above (*raises hand*), you won't find solace in our long-term 2014 Mazda 3.
Mazda calls its head-up display an "Active Driving Display." ADD. I kid you not. Dan Edmunds doesn't seem to mind it. Me, the first thing I'm looking for when I get into a head-up display-equipped car is the "off" button.
February 21, 2014
When I really like a long-termer, I inevitably revert to nitpicking the little things because everything else works great. File this one under nitpicking.
February 13, 2014
Our new 2014 Mazda 3 s Grand Touring is proving to be very popular. It's always on the go, racking up miles at an impressive rate. Yet, a weekend of intensive Los Angeles freeway driving has us looking elsewhere for a long-haul driving companion.
February 7, 2014
Mazda mounted the 3's tachometer (on "S" trim levels) in the middle. Lesser "i" trim levels use this location for the speedometer. Here, however, there are redundant digital speedometers, one tucked in the bottom right corner of the tach and another on the heads-up display. I prefer engine speed getting priority on any car with sporting intentions.
January 29, 2014
Rather than wimping out at 20 miles like a lot of cars, the Mazda 3's range predictor goes to zero. I'm a just-in-time kind of guy. I like that.
January 28, 2014
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the 2014 Mazda 3's control knobs — the multi-function control and temperature controls — are the most precise knobs in any compact car built today.
Seriously, these knobs have minimal lateral play, offer solid indexing, have a grippy, knurled surface. They look and feel expensive.