2015 Mazda 3
The 2015 Mazda 3 compact comes in a multitude of sedan and hatchback versions. This year marks the first time the fuel-efficient compact gets 40-mpg highway ratings for most of its hatchbacks as well as the sedans, which bump up to 41 mpg on the highway for the 2014 model.
In past years, only a few select Mazda 3 sedan models came with an optional high-efficiency package. But all 2015 Mazda 3 i trim levels with the 2.0-liter engine are in the 40 mpg-plus highway club.
The i trim levels use Mazda's 2.0-liter Skyactiv inline-4 engine that helps Mazda deliver the fuel-efficiency goods with features including lightweight components, variable valve timing and direct fuel injection. There also are a number of aerodynamic improvements in both body styles.
EPA ratings on the 2.0-liter sedans with automatic transmission are 34 mpg combined (41 highway/30 city). Sedans with a manual transmission get 33 mpg combined (41 highway/29 city). Mazda 3 hatchbacks with the 2.0-liter engine and automatic transmission are rated at 33 combined (40 highway/30 city), while models with a manual transmission get a 33 combined (40 highway/29 city) rating.
Making the club for the first time is the 2015 Mazda 3 s GT with the special i-Eloop fuel efficiency package. The GT offers a 2.5-liter engine that, with Mazda's six-speed automatic and the special efficiency package, earned a 33-mpg combined rating from the EPA (40 highway/29 city).
The term i-Eloop stands for "intelligent energy loop," a specialized regenerative braking system that lets Mazda models equipped with the package store braking energy in a supercapacitor. The stored power is used to help operate onboard electronics when the engine is shut down during stops, thanks to the engine stop-start system, and to charge the 12-volt battery so engine power isn't diverted to those chores.