November 01, 2012
Driving to the SEMA show in Las Vegas from Los Angeles involves an interminably boring, soul-crushing slog through the desert up I-15. It's a tedious drive, but at least you can make some time.
That is, you can make time in the places where road construction hadn't cut the freeway from three lanes down to one, adding an hour to the trip. Argh. Otherwise, cruising speeds on the open sections of the trip were between 80-85.
I took our longterm 2012 Mazda 3. Here's the fuel economy result.
Naturally, this result is far cry from its 39 mpg window sticker highway rating, but not entirely unexpected given the elevated cruising speed of this particular trip (recall the average speed of the EPA highway cycle is something like 48 mph).
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
October 26, 2012
I drove the 2012 Mazda 3 from Los Angeles to Napa Valley to attend the introduction of the redesigned 2013 Toyota Avalon and I was amazed at how far I could go on one tank of gas. I was so pleased with myself I pulled out the log book and searched other entries to see if anyone else went farther. YES! This was a record!
Way back when we first got the Mazda, Erin Riches predicted that we would see a lot of 400-mile tanks. We have seen five 400-mile tanks. But there were plenty of tanks pushing high 300s. Anyway, here are the numbers.
I drove 433.3 miles and used 11.55 gallons of 87-octane gas. That works out to 37.5 mpg. Since it has a 14.5 gallon tank, I could have gone another 110 miles and logged a 500-mile tank. The best part of all this was that I wasnt hyper-miling just going with the flow and keeping one eye out for the CHP.
Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @18,573 miles
October 12, 2012
I am a former Mazda 3 owner. I had an '09 hatch with the 2.3 and an automatic. When the dealer found out how few miles I had, they bought out my lease early -- and at a good price. It was a good thing, too, because I was getting fairly tired of the car to be honest. The ride was far, far too firm on my commute (Wilshire blvd) and was averaging something like 18 mpg on the 8-mile trip. Other Mazda 3 owners I know average about the same.
Our long term Mazda 3 is equipped with the new Skyactiv engine and a six-speed automatic and promises better fuel economy. So I took it for a few days and treated it the way I treated mine. How'd it do?
As you can see, my 10 trips back and forth worked out to a stunning 19 mph and an indicated 27.8 mpg. The car then took 2.69 gallons of fuel which works out to 31.02 mpg on this admittedly short sample.
31 is a big number compared to 18. Especially the way I drive. At the current price of fuel (4.645 average) each mile in the old car would've cost me $0.25. In the 2012 Skyaciv 3 we're looking at $0.15 per mile. That's a real difference.
Not only is this new car more efficient by a long shot, but it's a far more comfortable place to spend time than the old car. It absorbs bumps better -- not great, but better -- and handles broken pavement with a nod towards compliance and comfort.
If mine had behaved this way I might still own it today.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 17,224 miles
August 23, 2012
I put nearly 1,000 miles on our 2012 Mazda 3 i Touring Skyactiv during last weekend's road trip to Monterey.
Just crunched my fuel economy numbers and realized how unusually wide the range was -- specifically, my highway numbers were very, very good, while my city numbers were pretty lousy. In this case, though, "city driving" amounts to being perpetually stuck in low-speed traffic between the historic races at Laguna Seca and the auctions in Pebble Beach.
Make the jump to see how I did against our automatic-equipped five-door's 28 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, 32 mpg combined EPA rating.
My best tank, spanning 328.8 miles, yielded 41.6 mpg.
My worst tank, spanning 238.8 miles, yield 24.4 mpg.
My last tank (of 3) spanned 405.1 miles and yielded 38.2 mpg.
My average mpg was 34.4 mpg over 967.7 miles. I put in 28.2 gallons of 87 octane.
These are numbers I could totally live with, especially given the direct-injected 2.0-liter engine's energetic throttle response and livable performance levels (coupled with the six-speed automatic's smarts).
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 14,311 miles
July 02, 2012
...and what a highway 101 in California's central coast is. On the way up, I was hampered by traffic leaving L.A. and achieved only 34 miles-per-gallon of 87-octane gasoline. On the way back, I observed over 40 mpg until the full-stop in Santa Barbara (and later in Ventura) so the EPA's 39 mpg Highway is absolutely achievable. Still, a true 37 mpg is darned good with the A/C on and cruise set to about 70 mph. By the way, the self-reported average runs about 1 mpg optimistic which is better than some systems.
Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 11,672 miles
May 14, 2012
Setting aside the debate of regular Mazda 3 versus Mazdaspeed 3 for the moment, I do think the regular 3 is one of the best choices for a small car in 2012. If someone asked me, "What small car should I buy?" the Mazda would be one of my top three picks.
Much of the credit goes to the new 2.0-liter (Skyactiv) engine, as it gives the car the competitive fuel economy it's been lacking the past couple of years. Then there's rest of the Mazda 3 package -- responsive handling, upscale features and an available hatchback body style -- that makes this car so appealing in my opinion.
Incidentally, my other two picks for 2012? Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 9,658 miles
May 11, 2012
Our 2012 Mazda 3 has an MSRP of $25,520. It's an excellent urban runabout with just about every Mazda 3 feature included, plus great utility and fuel economy. But it's not very exciting.
Alternate choice: for $24,795 MSRP, you could get a Mazdaspeed 3, just without the Technology package.
Of course, it's easy to say "I'd buy the MS3!" But would you really in the real world, with the added insurance, stiffer ride, lower fuel economy and manual-only transmission?
So what say you?
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
May 07, 2012
I filled up the Mazda 3 today. Calculating it out, I got 35 mpg from a 365-mile mix of highway and city driving. That even includes the back road drive I did last week. I'm impressed.
Were I buying a 2012 Mazda 3, I think I'd go with the 2.0-liter Skyactiv engine. I wouldn't miss the 2.5-liter engine. Sure, it's a little more powerful, but I'd trade that for the better fuel economy. The only thing that would be a drag would be not being able to get the features that Mazda offers for the S trim level (2.5-liter engine only), such as the keyless ignition/entry and the front sport seats.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 9,108 miles
May 01, 2012
Sales figures are out today. For the first quarter of 2012, Mazda sold 42,218 Mazda 3 models, a healthy 24.9 percent increase over the same period last year. Even so, the 3 is one of the laggards of the small car segment. For comparison, Toyota's sold 93,232 Corollas so far this year. Yet if you'd poll our staff for a show of hands on which one they'd buy, a Corolla or a 3, you'd get, well, you already know the answer. The 3, as good as it is, deserves more American buyers.
Chevrolet Cruze: 75,288
Ford Focus: 85,468
Honda Civic: 101,592
Hyundai Elantra: 61,237
Mazda 3: 42,218
Toyota Corolla: 93,232
Volkswagen Jetta: 47,959
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
April 25, 2012
Out of the cars currently in our fleet, I'd say our 2012 Mazda 3 Skyactiv is my favorite for getting around the city. Sure, the A8 and the X3 (cars I know won't likely be cross-shopped with this hatch) are plush and luxurious but the Mazda 3 is the right size for going down narrow streets and alleys and it's not as terrifying to maneuver in crowded parking garages. Like our Camry, it's well damped for negotiating those pothole-filled alleys and gets decent gas mileage but it's also actually fun to drive.
It's really suited to my lifestyle as a single city dweller who likes to save money on gas but still wants fun doing it.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
February 01, 2012
I like this car. It's that simple.
There's a certain fundamental goodness about the way Mazdas drive that's appealing to me. Nearly all of them offer it. Even this, the fuel-economy-obsessed compact hatch has built-in qualities that make driving it meaningful. It's steering, for example, feels like it was tuned. It's not just a product electro-hydraulic motion, but rather an integral component of a larger system. And it's one that contributes to the overall experience -- even in a slow car.
Also, its transmission, and I'm not the first to say this, is awesome. By locking up the torque converter quickly and offering sharp, immediate rev-matched downshifts, it makes the most of a minimalist powerplant. Nice.
Finally, it's a utilitarian hatchback that has, since November, twice achieved more than a 41 mpg average on a tank of fuel.
Hard to argue with that.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
January 27, 2012
You may have read by now that good ol' California has once again decided that its citizens should drive cleaner cars, specifically those of the electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen variety. A new mandate dictates that 15.4% of all new cars sold in the state must be electric, fuel-cell or plug-in hybrid by 2025.
Most manufactures have supported the measure, largely because most of them have enough products in the pipeline to meet the requirement. That, and there always seems to be a way around it if you don't.
This may look good to the legislators on the California Air Resources Board (CARB), but I prefer the road that Mazda has taken toward improved fuel efficiency. It's far less extreme, but it's also far more palatable to the average consumer. Instead of far reaching technology that requires an all-new infrastructure, Mazda's Skyactiv philosophy merely builds on what's already there. More fuel efficient combustion engines, transmissions that make the best use of those engine and eventually chassis designs that reduce the weight the powertrains have to carry around.
Our Mazda 3 long-termer has a Skyactiv drivetrain already and you would hardly know that it's significantly cleaner and more efficient that a previous Mazda 3. Doesn't cost extra either. Forcing automakers to build cleaner cars is one thing, but you can't force consumers to buy them. Should be interesting to see how it all works out over the next decade or so.
Ed Hellwig, Editor
January 09, 2012
This weekend our 2012 Mazda 3 was my conveyance about the city. And I have to say that I loved it. Honestly I can see myself owning this car as it suits my needs as a city girl with a dog (no dog report here though but stay tune). Easy to maneuver in congested traffic, consequently easy to park. And it's actually fun to drive and bonus that it gets decent mpg. How often do you see both those qualities in a car?
Even though I'm an "enthusiastic" driver, I still managed to get about 31.5 mpg, just below the 32 EPA. Also it checks some of the other boxes for my simple likes in a daily driver:
-- Effective seat heaters. These go to 5 and the hottest point of this highest setting is intense. I actually found myself flicking the level down a notch! I know, riight?
-- Responsive and easy automanual shifter.
-- Straightforward controls. "Oh, there's the button for the trip, there's the one for the fuel door." Plus three knobs for climate controls. No guesswork, no reading manuals. All you have to do is look.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 3,795 miles
December 27, 2011
We're going to see a lot of 400-mile tanks with our 2012 Mazda 3 i Grand Touring and its 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
After 397 miles of indifferent driving in both city and highway conditions (but with a fair amount of 70-mph cruise control usage in mostly light holiday traffic), I fueled up our Mazda 3. I put 12.117 gallons of 87 octane into its 14.5-gallon tank. That works out to 32.7 mpg, which is smack dab in the middle of its EPA ratings -- 28 mpg city, 39 mpg highway, 32 mpg combined.
In my previous post, somebody (was it blueguy?) expressed doubt that the 3's acceleration could really be adequate with the 2.0-liter engine. And it is, I tell you. I'd trade the 2.5-liter's better low-rpm kick any day for the direct-injected 2.0-liter's more balanced performance and the superior transmissions that go with it.
The added fuel range (and mpg) is more like icing on the already tasty gingerbread, as opposed to the only compelling reason to get the models with the Skyactiv drivetrains.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 3,296 miles
December 20, 2011
There are a number of trade-offs that buyers face when looking for a new car. For example, our 2012 Mazda3 has a fuel efficient Skyactiv engine and a nice list of features, but it isnt the top trim. For an additional $600 (add an extra $800 for the automatic), you can get the S Grand Touring with a 2.5 liter engine and a number of other features. This makes for a tough choice for Mazda3 shoppers.
On the one hand, the Skyactiv engine is 28 percent more fuel efficient (7 mpg combined) than the 2.5 liter engine. It costs less and has most, but not all, of the features from the S Grand Touring.
The 2.5 liter engine makes about 13 more horsepower and 20 more pound feet of torque. This engine is a nice compromise between the eco-minded Skyactiv and the hyperactive Mazdaspeed3. The 2.5 also gives you the option to get a manual transmission.
The S Grand Touring also includes a number of items exclusive to this trim level: 17-inch wheels, fog lights (optional on i Grand Touring), keyless entry with push button start, LED tail lights, navigation and power side mirrors with turn indicators.
If it was my money, I'd wait for the diesel Skyactiv. But if I had to choose between these two, I would probably go with the Skyactiv. I'm fine with paying more for frivolous items like LED tail lights and turn indicators on the mirrors, but I could never get over paying 28 percent more for gas.
What would you choose?
Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 2,908 miles