2014 Mazda 3 Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Precise handling
- very good fuel economy
- quick acceleration
- refined interior with intuitive controls
- available hatchback body style
- many advanced features are available.
- The 2.0-liter engine is a bit noisy under hard acceleration
- dash-mounted touchscreen display looks aftermarket.
Purposeful styling, fuel-efficient engines and an ideal ride and handling balance keep the 2014 Mazda 3 among the favorites in the compact car class.
Notably, we picked the 2014 Mazda 3 as one of Edmunds' Best Used Cars.
The 2014 Mazda 3 marks the third generation of the compact car favorite. In this redesign, Mazda set out to preserve the car's traditional strengths -- including its everyday practicality, choice of sedan and hatchback body styles and fun-to-drive nature -- while simultaneously improving refinement.
It looks as if Mazda has come through on this mission. The 2014 Mazda 3 is based on the same new lightweight chassis that underpins the CX-5 and midsize Mazda 6 sedan, and sits atop a wheelbase that is 2.4 inches longer than the current model. The new Mazda 3 is also a bit wider and lower. More importantly, the new 3 adopts Mazda's newest, more aggressive-looking grille design, which means the 3's smiling Nemo face is gone. To be honest, we're not going to miss it.
The 2014 Mazda 3 comes with familiar engines, starting with the improved 2.0-liter four-cylinder that Mazda began offering in the 3 a couple years prior. However, the optional 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has been overhauled to provide a stronger power delivery and better fuel economy. Compared to the 2.0-liter, the 2.5 drops just a bit in terms of efficiency but, thanks to its extra power, delivers a considerably better driving experience.
There are plenty of changes inside the 2014 Mazda 3 as well. The sporty cabin ambience remains, but this time it's part of a more modern, flowing design, paired with vastly improved materials quality and a new touchscreen and electronics interface. Of equal importance is a newly available suite of safety features, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and a low-speed collision-mitigation system. As a result, the 3 feels more grown-up than ever before. This isn't just a car for 20-somethings anymore.
There's no shortage of quality players among compact cars, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte. And the excellent Ford Focus is certainly worth a look if you want a budget car that's entertaining to drive on back roads. But with its newfound refinement, the latest Mazda 3 reasserts its place as a premier choice for a small sedan or hatchback.
2014 Mazda 3 models
The 2014 Mazda 3 is available in four-door sedan and hatchback body styles. Both are available in 3i and 3s trims that are broken into sub-trims.
The base 3i SV -- a sedan-only trim -- offers 16-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, a folding rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with AM/FM radio, USB/iPod integration and an auxiliary audio input.
The rest of the Mazda 3 trims are available on both the sedan and hatchback. The 3i Sport adds cruise control, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a CD player to the base model offerings, while the 3i Touring model mixes in 16-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, a rear spoiler, keyless ignition/entry, sport front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rear-seat center armrest and a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alerts.
A sunroof is available as a stand-alone option for the 3i Touring. It's also available in a package including dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7-inch touchscreen display, Mazda's new "Commander" dial-and-button control interface, a navigation system, voice controls and a premium nine-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with HD radio, satellite radio and smartphone-enabled Internet radio (including Pandora).
Those features come standard on the 3i Grand Touring, along with leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a six-way power driver seat (with manual lumbar adjustment) and a rearview camera.
The 3s Touring is equipped like the 3i Grand Touring but adds a more powerful engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, bi-xenon headlights, foglamps, LED taillights and a head-up display for vital driving information. The sunroof is still optional here, however.
The 3s Grand Touring completes the lineup by adding to the 3s Touring's equipment with adaptive bi-xenon headlights, the sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and leather upholstery. An available Technology package available only for the 3s Grand Touring includes the i-ELOOP regenerative braking system, active grille shutters, forward collision warning and mitigation, lane departure warning systems, automatic high beam control and adaptive cruise control.
Performance & mpg
The 2014 Mazda 3i models are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. It drives the front wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. In Edmunds testing of a 2014 Mazda 3i sedan with the automatic transmission, we recorded an 8.3-second 0-60-mph time, which is quicker than average for this class of car. EPA-estimated fuel economy is also excellent; the sedan checks in at 34 mpg combined (30 mpg city/41 mpg highway) with the automatic transmission. The sedan with the manual is just slightly less at 33 mpg combined (29 mpg city/41 mpg highway), and you can expect similar numbers for the 3i hatchback.
Mazda 3s models get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder generating 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, joined to a six-speed automatic transmission (the manual is not available). EPA-estimated fuel economy for this engine in the sedan is 32 mpg combined (28 mpg city/39 mpg highway). According to Mazda, adding the optional i-ELOOP system that captures and redistributes braking energy improves fuel economy by as much as 10 percent, but we think 5 percent is more realistic. The EPA's tests validated a 1-mpg improvement across the board to the 3s hatchback's fuel consumption.
Every Mazda 3 comes equipped with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alerts comes standard on the 3i Touring trim level and above, while the 3i Grand Touring and above also have a rearview camera. The available Technology package for the 3s Grand Touring includes a lane departure warning system, forward collision warning and Mazda's Smart City Brake Support, which is a collision-mitigation system that can automatically brake the car to a stop at low speeds if the driver doesn't react to an imminent collision.
In Edmunds testing, a 2014 Mazda 3i Touring sedan stopped from 60 mph in 133 feet, which is a longer distance than average for the compact segment.
In government crash tests, the 2014 Mazda 3 earned an overall rating of five stars, with five stars in frontal and side crash tests and four stars in rollover tests. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the 2014 Mazda 3 earned the highest possible rating of "Good" in all tests in both the sedan and hatchback versions.
Mazda's improvements to the 2014 Mazda 3's base 2.0-liter engine -- better responsiveness to driver inputs and increased midrange torque output -- have made this engine a completely viable pick. But it's still tempting to stretch your budget for the larger 2.5-liter engine; it's quicker, smoother and slightly quieter, and there's a minimal impact to overall fuel economy.
With either engine, however, the automatic transmission is a bright spot, offering shifts that are remarkably intelligent, quick, responsive and smooth. The addition of Mazda's first-ever "Sport" mode on 3s Touring/Grand Touring models further improves the already intelligent programming of the automatic transmission.
The Mazda 3 has always handled well; it's one of the model's signature dynamic characteristics. So it's no surprise that the 2014 Mazda 3 also handles well and offers responsive and precise steering. What is striking is how well the new 3 rides. The previous car could feel tightly wound and harsh over broken pavement, but no more. The new chassis and suspension tuning give the 2014 Mazda 3 a more refined, substantial ride without making it feel heavier or less athletic during more spirited drives on back roads.
The 2014 Mazda 3 cabin is leaps better than any previous 3 and it's among the best in its class. An intuitive, driver-oriented dashboard and console put all the controls in easy reach, so that you aren't searching around through button arrays or menu screens to accomplish basic tasks. Although your front passenger might be put off by the vast expanse of plastic on that side of the dash, the new interior has a modern, flowing and, dare we say, adult design.
The front seats are very comfortable with sporty bolstering and fine materials. Overall, the interior panels, upholstery and switches have a surprisingly expensive feel. The only odd touch in all of this is the new touchscreen display. While it's much larger than previous units Mazda has used, its location on top of the dash gives it a tacked-on, almost aftermarket look that's out of place in the otherwise upscale interior. On the upside, the infotainment controller between the front seats operates with a simplicity and logic that's quite refreshing in comparison to more ambitious and complex systems (i.e., the Focus' MyFord Touch).
At 35.8 inches, rear-seat legroom is adequate for 6-foot passengers. There's not quite enough space to lounge and cross your ankles, but your knees and shins won't bang against the front seats, either. There's noticeably more headroom in back, too.
The sedan's 12.4-cubic-foot trunk is bit small for the class; the Civic is about the same, while the Cruze and Focus are larger. The hatchback, meanwhile, offers 20.2 cubic feet behind its rear seat, while folding the seats yields a generous 47.1 cubic feet. Bonus feature: lowering the hatchback's rear seats doesn't require removal of the headrests.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover10.5%
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More About This Model
There's no Hippocratic Oath for automotive journalists. There's no creed, code or promise we swear to, right hand steadied on a weathered copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style. But if there were, somewhere between "I will tell the truth" and "I will not play favorites" should be, "I will not bury the lead." And so, without further ado, here it is:
The all-new 2014 Mazda 3 is very, very good.
Despite some serious growing pains that left elements of the car compromised, it remained among the best cars available in the segment. But now, free of the shackles of parent companies, Mazda finally engineered the Mazda 3 its way.
Drives Like a Mazda
We want to say we waited a few days, or hours, to come to this conclusion. That after driving the 2014 Mazda 3 we sat in front of a fire and contemplated the meaning of life and where, in this grand scheme, a new C-segment hatchback really fits. We didn't. Like a well-hit ball that sails off the bat into the wild blue yonder, we knew this one was good during the very first turn on Angeles Crest Highway.
By now, saying a Mazda has good steering response is like saying Gisele Bündchen is kind of pretty, but we're going to do it anyway. And even though it now comes with electric-assist power steering, the 2014 Mazda 3 doesn't disappoint.
"Electric power steering is very flexible," says Mazda Development Engineer Dave Coleman. "You can do anything with it. Basically, you give engineers enough rope to hang themselves." Previously, Mazda benchmarked BMW for the steering response in its compact hatch. It didn't do that this time. Nothing outside of the company met the development team's expectations, so they went internal and looked at the venerable Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Not only was the effort tuned to match the curve of a Miata's power steering, but the front suspension's caster angle was increased to 6.5 degrees — the same as the rear-drive Miata and RX-8. The result is a compact hatchback that turns in brilliantly, holds a line and returns sufficient weight and feedback. Again, this isn't a surprise.
The real surprise is how sophisticated and controlled the rest of the car feels after the turn-in.
Trust the Driver
In a speech that would make some other carmaker's cringe, Mazda 3 program manager Kenichiro Saruwatari stood up in public and proclaimed, "We believe in the human being." In an era of mandatory safety nannies, this borders on heresy. Glorious heresy.
Angeles Crest Highway is 66 miles of happiness, melted down and poured over an undulating Southern California mountain range. We know the road like we know the quickest route to the bathroom in the middle of the night and after about five minutes behind the wheel of the 2014 Mazda 3, we get confident — or cocky — and start having fun. Mazda 3s just do that to you.
Turn-in points get later and later. Braking zones all but evaporate. We're bounding from corner to corner, linking turns like a slalom skier when we finally notice that traction control hasn't once intervened. We test the waters with a hyper-late turn-in and the car understeers a touch, but stays planted and doesn't trigger ESC. We repeat this "test" but with a slight lift of the throttle mid-corner. The Mazda 3 tucks itself neatly around the corner like it's being steered from the back. We mix the two methods. Turn in somewhere around the apex and lift sharply, completely. It's not the fastest way 'round this corner, but it's fun and the Mazda's rear slides predictably, confidently and nanny-free.
But it's not simply the lack of electronic intervention that sets this apart. The s model handles bumps and broken pavement like no Mazda 3 has before. Where previous 3s have been bouncy, boundy things that are alive, but hollow-feeling, the 2014 Mazda 3 has more effective damping. None of the previous 3's eagerness has been lost, but the edges have been sanded off.
Like the last generation Mazda 3, the 2014 is hitting the market with both 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv engines. Added during a midcycle refresh a few years ago, Mazda is calling these engines carry-forward, not carry-over.
The volume-selling, lowest-cost option will be the 2.0-liter. Available on i trims, this powerplant makes 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. When connected to the six-speed automatic, it returns an EPA estimated 30 city and 41 highway mpg. The 2.0-liter example we drove was connected to the six-speed manual transmission which returns 29 city and 41 highway mpg. And that's about the best thing we can say about this engine.
Simply put, 155 horsepower isn't a lot when you're pushing around 2,815 pounds. It's sufficient at best, but feels sluggish until 4,000 rpm when the character switches to wheezy. It's fine around the city, or on mountain roads where momentum is king, but it's a bit of a bummer in any situation where merging, passing or climbing is on the table. We have no complaints about the slick, short shifter or the new clutch engagement that is progressive and smooth.
The One You Want
Mazda's other engine offering is a different animal. Cranking out 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, the 2.5-liter s trim is a much more pleasant powertrain. Torque comes on low and the power runs smooth all the way to the 6,500-rpm redline. It's quick to rev and respond to gearchanges and there's even a hint of intentional intake noise. There's not even a real fuel economy hit as this one, hooked up to a six-speed automatic, returns 28 city and 37 highway.
The 2.5 does come with two potential downsides, however. The first is that it will cost more in a highly price-sensitive segment. Mazda is yet to announce pricing for s trim versions of the car. The second issue is the initial lack of a manual transmission. One will eventually be available for the small percentage of buyers who want to row their own, but not at launch. That said, the six-speed automatic is expertly programmed and offers a sport mode that is predictive, shockingly fast and as capable as any sport mode on the market.
Both powertrains will be available in either the five-door or sedan body styles.
Mazda's Historical Weak Spot
Because Mazda has a highly talented team of development engineers who value driving and are given enormous power in the company, it's unsurprising that the 2014 Mazda 3 drives well. The bigger question is the interior. Mazda owners for years have argued that the car's mannerisms, looks and uniqueness made up for the interior. Everyone who couldn't define "steering weight" just bought something else.
This is largely rectified for 2014. There are no obvious, glaring missteps. The blank expanse of dark plastic in front of the passenger seat could be more welcoming and the navigation system feels tacked on. But textured plastics surround anything you touch, and buttons and knobs are solid with pleasing action.
So the new 3 is competitive with the rest of the segment in this regard, but there are two areas inside where it now excels: The front seats and the steering wheel. Sure, it's more stuff that comes from Mazda's fascination with racing, but the new, well-bolstered leather seats are exceptionally comfortable and look spectacular. The steering wheel, too, is near-perfect. No goofy flat-bottom, no unnecessary adornments, just a pleasantly fat wheel with accessible paddle shifters.
Mazda also added a central control knob for its navigation-infotainment system, but that was nonoperational on our preproduction test car.
The Mazda 3's history is dotted with compromise. Working with leftover or shared parts, Mazda's compact sedan made a meal out of mincemeat. But those days are over.
From chassis to engine to seats, the 2014 Mazda 3 is designed to be a proper Mazda and it fulfills that promise with few shortcomings. Interior refinement is a premium, it's competitively efficient and the 2.5-liter version is quicker than anything in this segment needs to be. Finally, the 3 has all the pieces in place to conquer the C-segment when it goes on sale this September.
That's something even us hacks can appreciate.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2014 Mazda 3 Overview
The Used 2014 Mazda 3 is offered in the following submodels: 3 Hatchback, 3 Sedan. Available styles include i Touring 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A), i Sport 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A), s Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 6A), s Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6A), i Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6A), s Touring 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6A), i Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A), s Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 6A), i Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6A), i Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6A), i SV 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A), i Sport 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M), i Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M), i Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M), i SV 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M), i Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M), i Touring 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M), and i Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M). Pre-owned Mazda 3 models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine or a 2.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 184 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2014 Mazda 3 comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2014 Mazda 3 comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2014 Mazda 3?
Price comparisons for Used 2014 Mazda 3 trim styles:
- The Used 2014 Mazda 3 i Touring is priced between $11,544 and$18,990 with odometer readings between 5930 and136930 miles.
- The Used 2014 Mazda 3 i Sport is priced between $11,999 and$17,590 with odometer readings between 30503 and170014 miles.
- The Used 2014 Mazda 3 i Grand Touring is priced between $17,990 and$19,998 with odometer readings between 19813 and92762 miles.
- The Used 2014 Mazda 3 s Grand Touring is priced between $16,990 and$20,990 with odometer readings between 38031 and91536 miles.
- The Used 2014 Mazda 3 s Touring is priced between $19,990 and$20,998 with odometer readings between 25065 and34995 miles.
- The Used 2014 Mazda 3 i SV is priced between $16,590 and$16,590 with odometer readings between 35723 and35723 miles.
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Which used 2014 Mazda 3s are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2014 Mazda 3 for sale near. There are currently 35 used and CPO 2014 3s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $11,544 and mileage as low as 5930 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2014 Mazda 3.
Can't find a used 2014 Mazda 3s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.
Find a used Mazda 3 for sale - 9 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $14,142.
Find a used Mazda for sale - 3 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $23,558.
Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda 3 for sale - 10 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $7,853.
Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda for sale - 3 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $16,120.
Should I lease or buy a 2014 Mazda 3?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.