2014 Mazda 3: Napa Road Trip
December 17, 2014
Recently, I was sent to Napa Valley to drive the new Nissan Murano. Rather than take a short flight up, I decided to drive. As we're nearing the end of the term with our 2014 Mazda 3 and we needed some miles to get us closer to the 20,000-mile mark, it was the obvious choice.
As fate would have it, California was finally getting some much-needed rain when I was scheduled to make the drive. I left L.A. around 10:30 a.m., assuming I'd have plenty of time to get to the Carneros Inn by the 6:30 p.m. call time for dinner.
The rain was relentless, making the drive anything but calming. Still, the Mazda 3 handled the slick roads like a champ. Though I was driving on high alert the whole time, only one incident managed to rattle my cage. That was when a big rig trailer started swaying back and forth in the wind and rain.
Despite the prolonged stress, I remained fairly comfortable in the Mazda 3. I stopped only once on the way up in order to top-off with enough fuel to get me the rest of the way and wash down a Big Mac with a Red Bull. Somewhere south of San Francisco, the clouds parted and the glorious sunlight lit up the scenery, but it only lasted for a few miles, fading back into dull grayness.
I pulled into the hotel right around 5:30, got partially settled and went about my press trip duties. Unfortunately, a personal emergency back home put a damper on things. As soon as I was done driving the Murano, I hopped back into the Mazda 3 and pointed it south towards home.
The 400 miles back to L.A. seemed twice as far as the drive up. With the driving rain continuing for the first two hours, there was little opportunity to claw back some precious time. Like the drive up, I stopped only once for fuel, but I had barely 20 miles of range left by the time I rolled into Hollywood. Stress always seems to get compounded by even more stress.
The Mazda 3 never contributed to that stress. Instead, it was a steady road trip companion that was worthy of my heavy reliance. At the end of the trip, I averaged 32.5 mpg over 812 miles. Not too shabby.
Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 18,600 miles