Give it one quick glance and you probably wouldn't guess that the Mazda 3 is the newest player in the highly competitive economy car segment. With its distinctive snout, smooth flanks and shapely rear end, it looks more like a downsized European-bred machine than a Japanese car that starts well under $20,000.
Look inside and the perception doesn't change much. A sleek yet functional design blends with high-quality materials and ample passenger room to give this new Mazda an upscale look and feel that few cars in the class can match. Drive it a few miles, or for several hours as we did, and the feeling that the 3 is not just another import econobox grows even stronger.
Could it be the new standard for economy cars in the U.S.? With competition like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla to contend with, we wouldn't go that far just yet, but our initial impressions indicate that anyone looking for an affordable, fun-to-drive sedan or hatchback would find more to like in the Mazda 3 than either one of those other perennial front-runners.
A direct replacement for the Protegé and Protegé5, the Mazda 3 comes in both sedan and four-door hatchback body styles. The sedan is offered in two trim levels base "i" and upgraded "s" while the four-door hatchback comes in "s" trim only. A Sport Appearance package that adds additional bodywork and larger wheels for an even sharper-edged look is available on all models.
Mazda backs up the 3's sporty image with a pair of engines that places it at the top of the class when it comes to horsepower. The base sedan uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated to produce 148 horsepower (144 in Calif.), while the upgraded "s" models use a 2.3-liter four-cylinder that bumps the horsepower number to 160. Both engines can be equipped with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.
As you might expect, the engines feel similar in their strength and power delivery. When you consider that the base 2.0-liter has more horsepower than many of its competitors' top-level engines, it's not surprising that it feels more than adequate around town and on the highway. Refined and quiet throughout its full rpm range, the 2.0-liter requires only careful attention to gear choice to maintain peak power. Drop a gear and higher-speed passing is rarely a problem, and even if you're lazy and leave it in too high a gear, it still manages to pull its way out with little fuss.
The more powerful 2.3-liter engine scratches to the redline more eagerly while retaining a smooth and quiet delivery that doesn't discourage winding out each gear. There's more pop than the base engine, but only those with a dedicated yearning for performance are likely to find it necessary to have the larger engine. The five-speed transmission is the same unit used in the midsize Mazda 6 although a few modifications give it a more substantial, refined feel. The four-speed automatic features manual-shift capability and electronic slope control for less juggling of the gears when negotiating hills.
With the Protegé's well-established track record for superior ride and handling, the 3 has big shoes to fill, but with the help of a few hand-me-down parts from Mazda's midsize sedan, it's well up to the task. Liquid-filled suspension bushings, an electrohydraulic steering system and an all-new multilink rear suspension design are just a few of the 3's upgrades that deliver refined road manners that will surprise those expecting the typically flabby ride and handling of most economy cars. Tightly controlled but rarely harsh, the 3's suspension leans toward the sporty end of the spectrum without beating up your insides along the way. Feedback through the wheel is still better than average, and the brakes are firm and powerful. The only downside is that road noise is up, too, so there's still some room for improvement.
Much the same could be said about the 3's interior, as it's better in nearly every way yet still not without its flaws. Unlike most cars in this class that offer nothing more than purely functional setups, the 3's cabin has a more cohesive layout that manages to inject a little style into the equation. From the individually recessed gauges to the symmetry of the center stack controls, the attention to detail is evident. Satellite steering wheel controls are a nice touch for a car in this price range, but we could do without the cheesy LEDs that light up in correspondence with volume or station changes. And as good as they look, the controls don't have the high-quality feel that you get with the Honda Civic.
Larger in most exterior dimensions than the outgoing Protegé, the 3 offers only negligible differences in interior space. There's still enough room for taller drivers to get comfortable up front, and the rear seats are acceptably spacious for a car in this class. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is always a nice feature to find, but we can't say the same about the rotary seat recline mechanism. Trunk space is up on sedan models, but the hatchback is still short on cargo space until you fold the rear seats.
Interior nitpicks aside, the Mazda 3 addresses many of the shortcomings that kept the previous model stuck behind the competition. There's no longer a lack of power or refinement in the engine department, as both of the available four-cylinders provide ample thrust and low noise levels. The suspension setup is better than ever, and the interior still has a unique, upscale look that no other economy sedan can touch. Combine all these improvements with the stylish exterior and the new Mazda 3 looks as though it could finally shrug off its second-tier billing and start giving the Civic a run for its money.
2004 Mazda 3 Overview
The 2004 Mazda 3 is offered in the following submodels: Hatchback, Sedan. Available styles include s 4dr Sedan (2.3L 4cyl 5M), s 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M), and i 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M). 3 models are available with a 2.3 l-liter gas engine or a 2.0 l-liter gas engine, with output up to 160 hp, depending on engine type. The 2004 3 comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual. The 2004 3 comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a used 2004 Mazda 3?
Save up to $0 on one of 20 used 2004 Mazda 3s for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, Virginia with prices as low as $2600 as of Nov 24, 2017, based on data from 18 dealers and 43 consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from 4.9 to 5 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for used 2004 Mazda 3 trim styles:
The 2004 Mazda 3 s is priced around $5027 with average odometer reading of 119767 miles.
The 2004 Mazda 3 i is priced around $4398 with average odometer reading of 116221 miles.
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Is the 2004 Mazda 3 a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2004 Mazda 3 and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2004 3 featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 2004 Mazda 3? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2004 Mazda 3 and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2004 3 4.8 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2004 3.
Review I've owned this car since day one. It is 9-1/2 years old and 103,000 miles on it. I've done all scheduled maintenance at the dealer. I've had a problem for a few years where this car has been chewing through oil but no one could out where it was going (no leaks, no visible burning, no blown head gasket). I'm adding about a quart every 750 miles. Insane. I finally took it to another dealer with a better service department when the first failed to identify the problem. The piston rings have failed. The only solution... a new engine for $7,200. The more research I do, the more I see this is a common problem but Mazda is refusing to acknowledge it.
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2004 mazda 3 s 4dr Sedan (2.3L 4cyl 5M), 5-speed manual, regular unleaded 25 combined MPG 22 city MPG/29 highway MPG
2004 mazda 3 i 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), 5-speed manual, regular unleaded 27 combined MPG 24 city MPG/32 highway MPG
What options are available on the 2004 Mazda 3?
Available Mazda 3 2004 Submodel Types: Sedan, Hatchback
Available Trims: i Touring, i Sport, Grand Touring, Touring, Sport, i Grand Touring, s Grand Touring, s Sport, s Touring, i SV, i Touring Value, s, Touring 2.5, i, SP23 Special Edition
Exterior Colors: Jet Black Mica, Soul Red Metallic, Deep Crystal Blue Mica, Snowflake White Pearl Mica, Liquid Silver Metallic, Machine Gray Metallic, Titanium Flash Mica, Meteor Gray Mica, Eternal Blue Mica, Graphite Mica, Blue Reflex Mica, Sonic Silver Metallic, Crystal White Pearl Mica, Gunmetal Blue Mica, Sunlight Silver Metallic, Copper Red Mica, Galaxy Gray Mica, Dolphin Gray Mica, Crystal White Pearl, Velocity Red Mica, Indigo Lights Mica, Metropolitan Gray Mica, Strato Blue Mica, True Red, Stormy Blue Mica, Titanium Gray Metallic, Phantom Blue Mica, Rally White, Sky Blue Mica, Celestial Blue Mica, Sunlight Silver Mica, Winning Blue Mica, Phantom Purple Mica, Whitewater Pearl Mica, Aurora Blue Mica, Black Mica, Ice Blue Metallic, Lava Orange Mica, Nordic Green Mica, Shimmering Sand Metallic, Winning Blue Metallic
Interior Colors: Black cloth, Black Leatherette leatherette, Black Leather leather, Black Cloth cloth, Black leatherette, Black premium cloth, Parchment Leather leather, Black leather, Sand cloth, Dune cloth, Beige cloth, Sand Cloth cloth, Almond leather, Black, Black/Red cloth, Gray cloth, Black/Blue, Black/Blue cloth, Black/Red, Beige, Dune leather, Black (Sand Seat), Black (Sand Seat) cloth, Black Premium Cloth premium cloth, Sand premium cloth
Popular Features: Aux Audio Inputs, Stability Control, Bluetooth, Trip Computer, USB Inputs, Post-collision safety system, Blind Spot Monitoring, Alarm, Back-up camera, Auto Climate Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Heated seats, Power Driver Seat, Automatic Emergency Braking, Pre-collision safety system, Keyless Entry/Start, Navigation, Heads up display, Upgraded Stereo, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Remote Start, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Parking sensors, Sunroof/Moonroof, Leather Seats, Tire Pressure Warning, Upgraded Engine, Upgraded Headlights