2014 Mazda Mazda3 S Long-Term Road Test - Audio & Technology
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2014 Mazda Mazda3 S Long-Term Road Test

Audio & Technology

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2014 Mazda 3: Head-Up Display Failure

November 17, 2014

2014 Mazda 3

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.

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2014 Mazda 3: Handy Navigation Information

November 14, 2014

2014 Mazda 3

The 2014 Mazda 3 available navigation system includes some handy information on its map display. In the above photograph, note the speed limit information on the left and the lane information at the top. In terms of the latter, it lets you know which lanes will be continuing on and which turn into an off ramp.

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2014 Mazda 3: Adaptive Bi-Xenon HID

September 18, 2014

2014 Mazda 3

Driving around the city in the 2014 Mazda 3 it's easy to forget how sophisticated the bi-xenon HID lighting system is. But when I was driving down a mountain road near Lone Pine, Calif., it showed how both the directional capability and the leveling feature work together to provide a crisp, clear — and safe — picture of the road ahead.

At first, the moving beams caught me by surprise, as if my eyes were getting jumpy. Then, I grew to like the way that turning the steering wheel gives you a picture of where you want to go, not what you don't want to drive into. The auto-level feature is designed to adjust to road conditions as well as leveling when passengers and cargo are added.

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2014 Mazda 3: More Should Do This

August 22, 2014

2014 Mazda 3

Not only should more automakers adopt the dial-controller interface forward of the armrest, but they should include the volume knob along with it. Every time I drive the 2014 Mazda 3 I'm reminded of this little feature's genius. It's either a testament to advanced ergonomic thinking or just plain laziness (no more needing to reach out and extend for the volume knob). I'm with the former.

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2014 Mazda 3: Busy Wheel

August 1, 2014

2014 Mazda 3

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.  

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2014 Mazda 3: Easy-To-Use Technology Interface

June 13, 2014

2014 Mazda 3

I really like the technology interface found in our 2014 Mazda 3. It has what I consider to be an ideal setup of both a touchscreen and a multi-use controller knob.

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2014 Mazda 3: Plenty of Plugs

May 15, 2014

2014 Mazda 3

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.

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2014 Mazda 3 S: Helpful Navigation Feature

February 24, 2014

2014 Mazda 3 S

Our 2014 Mazda 3 Grand Touring has a navigation system that offers the guidance assistance you'd expect. But it offers one related feature that isn't very common, and it does this even when no navigation route has been input, when no actual route guidance is going on.

It points out the name of the upcoming cross-street and displays it at the top of the screen for a few seconds.

This cross-street notification is great for those times when you know where you are in basic terms but would like confirmation that the street you're looking for is coming up. It basically "reads" the street signs to you and displays them as text before you're close enough to see and read them for yourself.

I found this to be pretty handy when I first noticed it, particularly at night, but it's even better than that.

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2014 Mazda 3 S: Steering Wheel Controls

February 21, 2014

2014 Mazda 3 S

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.

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2014 Mazda 3: Traffic History Feature

February 6, 2014

2014 Mazda 3

I'm a fan of real-time traffic information even if it only tells me what I already know. The allure of hope is always enough to make me look at a screen. So I was impressed to discover the traffic history feature on our 2014 Mazda 3.

Though I'm yet to read about its specifics, it's easy enough to understand that that this feature gives an average of the traffic history for the specific time you're asking, a good thing to know for the commute you don't usually take.

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2014 Mazda 3 S: Heads-Up Display

January 27, 2014

2014 Mazda 3 S

The "s" versions of the 2014 Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback are distinguished from their "i" counterparts by a more-powerful 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine instead of the 155-horsepower 2.0-liter motor.

There's no obvious external badging that sets them apart. One sure way to tell at a glance is to look at the top of the dash for a heads-up display; the Mazda3 S comes standard with one, the Mazda3 i does not. It can't be added as an option, either, so this method can be used to positively identify the engine under the hood of a given 2014 Mazda 3 sedan or hatch you might be looking at.

Mazda calls their heads-up display by the name Active Driving Display, and it's a pretty slick piece. Fire the engine and it pivots into position from its dash-top recess and begins displaying a digital speed readout. The numerals are easy to see (they appear larger in real life than they do in these photos) but they don't intrude on the view ahead one bit.

And when the navigation system is actively providing guidance, next-turn direction and distance-to-turn information appears alongside speed when such changes in direction are coming soon.

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