2016 Mazda 3 Review
2016 Mazda 3 Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Precise handling when going around turns
- very good fuel economy
- quick acceleration
- top crash test scores
- refined interior with intuitive controls
- available hatchback body style
- many advanced features are available.
- Above-average wind noise
- ride quality can be choppy with the optional 18-inch wheels.
For the 2016 Mazda 3, the SV trim level has been dropped, so the 3i Sport trim is now the base model. Mazda has also added more standard features this year. A rearview camera is on every Mazda 3, while automatic headlights, automatic wipers and a sunroof are standard on trim levels higher than Sport. A manual transmission is no longer offered on the 3s Touring.
Are you looking for a small sedan or hatchback that does more than just serve as basic transportation? The versatile 2016 Mazda 3 offers powerful yet fuel-efficient engines, sporty driving dynamics and a comfortable ride. Read more to learn what else makes the 3 one of our top choices.
Notably, we picked the 2016 Mazda 3 as one of Edmunds' Best Used Cars.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2016 Mazda 3 i Sport 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.12 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$113/mo for 3 i Sport
3 i Sport
Avg. Compact Car
If you're shopping for a compact sedan or hatchback these days, you're likely expecting it to be fuel-efficient, reliable, safe, roomy and packed with the latest features and technology. At this price point, a lot of cars can meet these requirements, but only a few can do it and offer an engaging driving experience. The 2016 Mazda 3 happens to be one of the few.
The 2016 Mazda 3 brings a sporty touch to the compact car segment.
It starts with what's under the hood. Both the standard 2.0-liter and upgrade 2.5-liter engines deliver high fuel economy, yet they're also powerful enough to make the Mazda 3 one of the quicker cars in its class. Once you're on the move, you'll find most versions of the 3 ride comfortably, but when the road gets twisty, the 3's carefully tuned, borderline-telepathic steering works in unity with the well-sorted suspension to deliver unrivaled driving dynamics. The Mazda 3 also stands out from the crowd with its extensive list of standard and available features and upscale interior design.
Of course, there are a lot of great choices in the compact car class this year. The similarly sporty 2016 Ford Focus is a solid alternative to the 3, with sedan and hatchback body styles also available in addition to a high-performance ST version. The updated 2016 Honda Civic is roomy and comfortable, while the 2016 Kia Forte offers a wide range of features at an attractive price. But for a car that can do everything well and liven up your day with an entertaining drive, the Mazda 3 stands as the best.
Performance & mpg
The 2016 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 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.
The EPA's estimated fuel economy is also excellent. The sedan checks in at 34 mpg combined (30 city/41 highway) with the automatic transmission. The sedan with the manual earns just slightly less at 33 mpg combined (29/41), and you can expect similar numbers for the 3i hatchback. On the 116-mile Edmunds.com evaluation route, the 3i hatchback with the manual transmission returned 39.4 mpg.
Mazda 3s models get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine generating 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. The 3s Touring comes standard with the six-speed automatic transmission, while the 3s GT comes with the manual standard and has the automatic as an option. A Mazda 3s hatchback achieved a 0-60-mph time of 7.5 seconds, which puts it near the top of its class. With the 2.5-liter engine and the manual transmission, in both the sedan and hatchback, the EPA estimates 29 mpg combined (25/37 for the sedan and 26/35 for the hatch). Paired with the six-speed automatic, the 3s achieves an estimated 32 mpg combined (28/39) in four-door configuration and 31 mpg combined (27/37) as a hatchback.
The available 2.5-liter engine gives the 2016 Mazda 3 a 0-60-mph time of 7.5 seconds, making it one of the quickest compact cars.
Optional for the 3s is the "i-Eloop" system that captures and redistributes braking energy. So equipped, fuel economy rises to 33 mpg combined (29/40) on the sedan and 32 mpg combined (28/39) with the automatic.
Standard safety equipment on the 2016 Mazda 3 includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, a rearview camera, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alerts comes standard on Touring and Grand Touring models. 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 forward 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 Mazda 3i Grand Touring hatchback came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, while a 3s GT did it in 121 feet. Both are average numbers for the segment.
In government crash testing, the 2016 Mazda 3 received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with five stars for total frontal crash protection and five stars for total side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 3 the highest possible rating of "Good" in its moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset crash tests. The 3 also earned a "Good" rating for the side-impact, roof-strength and seats and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.
While it sounds a little raspy under hard acceleration, the Mazda 3's base engine is powerful enough to make the 3 one of the quickest cars in its class. But if you're at all passionate about driving, it's going to be tempting to pay a little extra for the 2.5-liter engine. There is a negligible impact to fuel economy, and the bigger engine is even stronger and smoother than the 2.0-liter. No matter which one you pick, the automatic transmission is superb, with quick shifts and rev-matched downshifts.
The 3 has more character than the average economy car and is the driver's choice in this segment. The exceptionally well-tuned steering and suspension encourage the driver to tackle even the tightest corners, and the car's refined and substantial ride quality make it enjoyable for highway travel as well. Equipped with 18-inch wheels and tires, the Mazda 3s models trade some road comfort for handling performance, as the ride can be bumpy and stiff over rough pavement.
The interior of the 2016 Mazda 3 is one of the best in its class. During our long-term test of a 2014 Mazda 3, the cabin was frequently praised for its intuitive layout and high-quality panels, materials and switches. Certain features, like a head-up display, adaptive headlights and adaptive cruise control are simply not offered in many of the Mazda 3's competitors.
Quality materials in the 2016 Mazda 3 eclipse those of its competitors.
All Mazda 3 trim levels come with a color display mounted atop the dash and a knob-type controller on the center console, much like those found in pricier cars like Audis. Mazda actually goes a step further by making that display a touchscreen. This added level of redundancy helps make this electronics interface easy to figure out and use on a daily basis, although the touchscreen capability is disabled while the vehicle is in motion. Overall, it's one of the better systems out there.
An available hatchback body style increases the 2016 Mazda 3's comparatively small cargo space.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and the sporty bolstering nicely complements the car's nimble handling abilities. The rear seats also have some contouring to them, but all-around space is pretty average. Competing sedans like the Toyota Corolla or Volkswagen Jetta offer more room for adults to get comfortable or to install bulky child car seats. The sedan's 12.4-cubic-foot trunk is a bit small for the class. The hatchback, meanwhile, offers 20.2 cubic feet behind its rear seat, while folding the seats yields 47.1 cubic feet. Both are average figures.
2016 Mazda 3 models
The 2016 Mazda 3 is available in four-door sedan and hatchback body styles. Both are available in 3i (2.0-liter four-cylinder) and 3s (2.5-liter four-cylinder) models that are broken into different trims.
The versatile 2016 Mazda 3 is available as a hatchback or sedan with two engine and transmission choices.
The base 3i Sport comes with 16-inch steel wheels, power-folding mirrors, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, a 7-inch touchscreen display with knob-based controller, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and voice controls. On the entertainment front, there is a six-speaker audio system with a USB port, an auxiliary input, HD radio and smartphone-enabled internet radio. The available Preferred Equipment package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, premium cloth upholstery, a rear-seat armrest, automatic headlights, automatic windshield wipers and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alerts.
The 3i Touring includes all features from the 3i Sport's Preferred Equipment package and adds foglights, a sunroof, a rear lip spoiler (on the sedan), keyless ignition and entry and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The optional Popular Equipment package adds dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a CD player, satellite radio and a premium nine-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system.
The 3i Grand Touring expands upon the Popular Equipment package, adding a six-way power driver seat (with manual lumbar adjustment), heated front seats, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery and a navigation system.
The 3s Touring takes those features and adds a more powerful engine, 18-inch wheels, a gloss-black grille insert, a digital speedometer, a head-up display and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The 3s Grand Touring completes the lineup with adaptive xenon headlights, LED taillights and daytime running lights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and full leather upholstery. The Technology package includes the i-Eloop regenerative braking system, active grille shutters, a forward collision warning and mitigation system, a lane-departure warning system, automatic high-beam headlight control and adaptive cruise control.
Reliability Ratings by RepairPal
4 out of 5 stars4.0/5Good
#15 out of 46 among Compact Cars
RepairPal Reliability Ratings are based on the actual cost, frequency, and severity of unscheduled repairs and maintenance on make/model data for select 2008-2022 vehicles. The reliability of a specific vehicle may vary depending on its maintenance and driving history, model year, trim, and features.
CostThe average total annual cost for unscheduled repairs and maintenance across all model years of the Mazda 3 from 2008-2022.
for Average Compact Car
for Average Compact Car
FrequencyThe average number of times this model is brought into the shop for unscheduled repairs and maintenance in a single year. RepairPal calculates this metric by tracking millions of unique vehicles over multiple years to determine an average number of visits per year (omitting small routine visits, e.g., oil changes).
for Average Compact Car
for Average Compact Car
SeverityThe probability that a repair will be a major issue, meaning the repair costs 3x the average annual repair cost for all models. This threshold will be higher for vehicles that have higher labor rates and parts costs (such as a premium brand).
for Average Compact Car
for Average Compact Car
powered by RepairPal Based on RepairPal reliability data as of 8/23/2023. Ratings are provided by RepairPal and Edmunds is not responsible for their accuracy.
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4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4 out of 5 stars
An excellent compact car with a few annoyances
2016 Mazda 3 s Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 6M)
REVIEW UPDATED OCTOBER 2016 AT 14540MI Pros: After clocking almost 14540 miles in this car, I can say without reservation that the 2.5 liter engine is excellent. It’s very smooth with linear power delivery and never leaves me needing more, as long as I select the right gear. Also, doing my own oil changes is very easy. The 6-spd manual transmission in this car is one of the best I’ve … had in a compact car, but it can feel a bit notchy when going from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd, but I realized this was because I was trying to 'guide' the shifter, which isn't necessary. It has nice short throws and slides into the next gear almost on its own, if you let it! Ride/handling is firm, but not at all harsh. The 3 sGT is a very controlled and fun car to drive! Build quality and fit/finish are excellent throughout the car, on par with the very best. Although, road noise at speed can be intrusive, due to limited use of sound insulation. Styling is fantastic inside and out. It’s a very simplistic but upscale look and feel, reminiscent of a much more expensive car, although the upper trim on all 4 doors could be softer, especially the rear. Supportive and attractive seats, I love the contrast stitching The Bose Centerpoint sound system is the best sounding audio system I’ve ever had in a car, hands down. It offers excellent imaging and superior full range sound reproduction, particularly when playing lossless music files. It won't provide the kind of bass you get from a separate subwoofer, but it's a clean sounding system. The adjustable head-up display and the blind spot monitoring are great safety features that work very well, although I'd prefer a head up display that projects onto the windshield, instead of a popup of clear plastic, which looks a bit cheap. The BSM allows you to adjust the warning chime level or turn it off, which is nice. Fuel efficiency was not quite as good as I expected at the beginning but, as I suspected, it has improved markedly since break-in. I am now averaging 36 MPG in mostly highway driving, which is better than it's rated. Cons: The infotainment system is slow to start up, sometimes taking over a minute to display the home screen. It also has unstable smart phone integration, often not recognizing my Android phone when connected via USB, which is annoying because I prefer to play music over wire instead of Bluetooth, as the sound quality is MUCH better. It also sometimes has issues connecting to the internet radio and webcast apps on my phone. Also, too many of the systems core functions cannot be accessed while driving. I realize this is for safety, but it’s far more restrictive than most cars I’ve owned. And finally, there is no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay present, while most competitors are offering these features. Mazda could definitely stand to further refine this system. At highway speeds, the level of road noise can become fatiguing and intrusive after a while. Mazda clearly saved some money by eliminating sound insulation materials. The car doesn't retain accessory power when you shut off the engine. I sometimes like to finish listening to a song or a news story before exiting, but in order to do so, I have to turn the acc power back on by pushing the start button again. Every other car I've owned in the last 15+ yrs retains acc power for a few min (or until a door is opened) after engine shutoff. Not a major con, but still annoying. There needs to be a fog light indicator light somewhere on the dash board. The switch on the left stalk is hidden behind the steering wheel, so it is difficult to tell if they’re on or off. Not a major con, but it's a minor detail that never should have been omitted. The clutch has a much higher take up point than I’m use to. It doesn’t begin to engage until the pedal is more than half way out. I prefer a clutch that engages closer to the floor to facilitate quicker shifts. It may be somewhat adjustable, which I will investigate eventually. A non-leather seat option on the top sGT trim would be nice for those who don’t want leather. Something like Alcantara would be a great option. Also, a bit more bottom padding would be nice as well, as the seats can begin to feel hard after a few hours. Summary: I admit to being VERY nitpicky when it comes to my cars. I have high expectations that are rarely met. That said, I would still buy the 3sGT 5-door over any other compact currently currently offered. The only car I might have considered is the upcoming 2017 Honda Civic 5-door, but it won’t be available until late 2016 and I couldn’t wait that long. In any case, I’m very happy with this car and can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for an excellent compact car that will undoubtedly provide many years of fun and trouble-free driving.
5 out of 5 stars
Excellent crash performance
2016 Mazda 3 i Sport 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
I was hit in the middle of the passenger side by a driver who ran a stop sign, hard enough that I spun 180 degrees and she continued on to hit a house across the street. I estimate she was doing 35-40 mph on a residential street and she never even touched her brakes. The Mazda3 was amazing. 2 days later I have a bruise where the seatbelt crossed my lap and another on my back where I'm … assuming the seat supports pressed into me. That's it. No stiffness or soreness, no other injuries. The wreck honestly felt smoother than a bumpy roller coaster ride, although not nearly as fun. And when the air bags deployed, the car used my phone over the Bluetooth connection and called 911 automatically. I really liked my car. It handled well, was comfortable, fun to drive, attractive, and priced right. If the insurance totals mine out, I will be purchasing another Mazda3.
5 out of 5 stars
Mazda for Life
John Sannes, 10/24/2015
2016 Mazda 3 s Touring 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
I have previously owned 3 Mazda cars, just sold a 2013 Civic Si. What I really needed was a commuter car, and always liked the previous Mazda3, so I decided to try a new one. It's great. Comfortable on long drives, has a very nice stereo system in the GT (HD radio and XM). The GT has the Active driving display (HUD) which I really like. I'm not a big fan of the basic-basic dash … layout, but the dash mounted infotainment screen gives you a lot of info (HD traffic, Nav, Text SMS, etc.,) The HUD also gives you Nav directions. Car does not perform like a Miata, but it is no slouch either. I have changed tires (and that made a good difference in how the car handles in tight corners). I love manual transmissions (and one is available), but I get into heavy traffic, and my wife can't drive stick. The shiftable automatic is great. Fuel mileage is very good for the size car it is and uses regular gas (avg. 32 mpg). If you are looking for a good all around car the 3 is a great choice; however, I would suggest that you don't skimp and get the bargain basement car hoping to upgrade parts later. I love the GT. UPDATE: 10/2018 25,000 miles (I used the O.E. upgrade and added Apple CarPlay - LOVE it. Sounds dumb but makes the car better by allowing Pandora and Waze to be placed on the Nav screen. Result? I don't like XM, I like Pandora instead. The problem with the 6-sp auto is that is that unlike a manual trans, you can't always tell what gear you're in by putting your hand on the shifter and when moving through traffic, I will lose count - and be in the wrong gear. Using the paddle shifter negates this. Problem solved. Trunk has more room than I anticipated and it's just a very easy car to live with. If only I could afford more than one Mazda at a time. I would buy a Mazda again in a minute.
5 out of 5 stars
Very happy with my Mazda3
Surly Jason, 05/28/2016
2016 Mazda 3 i Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
I traded my 2014 Accord for a basic Mazda3, 6-speed with the preferred package and am totally ga-ga in love over my Mazda. It's definitely smaller but it performs u-turns so much easier and is much more engaging to drive. I love the 6-speed transmission, too. I owned a 2009 Honda Fit for several years and it was a fantastic car which easily got 38 mpg and had tons of cargo space; it, … however, always had the appearance of a kiddy car with a rollerskate-like appearance. The Mazda3 feels and looks more grown-up and sophisticated. I love the high quality materials, the tight seams on the car and how smooth the controls are. I also like the largish wheels and tires and appreciate the 6+ inches of ground clearance. My Accord, despite being a far larger car, had tires similar in size to the 3 and had lower ground clearance so I often scraped the air dam when going into or leaving parking lot ramps. I wasn't sure about the so-called "commander" knob on the 3 but with just three weeks of ownership, I've become used to the knob and really like it. I told my other half that this is likely to be the last car I buy for a long, long time and she didn't believe me. Well, I've already started looking at another car -- a slightly higher trim level Mazda3. I wouldn't mind having the dual-zone climate control or the keyless entry / keyless ignition. The only thing that seems weird to me about the 3 is how you need the key fob to get into the car but not to start the vehicle. I would really like to be able to not fumble in my pocket to unlock the doors. For reference, I considered the Mazda3 and also a Golf Sportwagen. Strange combination I'm sure you're thinking and you're right. I really wanted the larger cargo capacity of the Golf wagen and the little turbo gas motor was rated for much more power, however, the motor didn't feel nearly as strong as the ratings suggested. I drove the 3 and fell in love with the thing. The steering wheel and controls are right at my hands and the transmission is creamy-smooth. The motor seems to make more power than the ratings suggest and the car has a "let's go -- zoom-zoom" feel about it. The motor never seems to run out of breath and is so smooth and quiet. The VW salesperson asked me why I chose the 3 over the wagen and I told him the car just felt great and was "me." I think if you try one, you'll like it too. This is my 19th 4-wheeled vehicle that I've owned and easily my favorite. Only 3 tanks of gas (and just over 1,000 miles) but my average mileage on fuelly.com is over 38 mpg. I expect as the mileage accumulates and the motor breaks-in, this figure should stay the same or increase slightly. UPDATE: 7-23-16 I've now owned my 3 for a few months and just passed 4,600 miles. Despite the availability of cars for work, I choose to drive my 3 because I like it so much. Having lived with the car for a little while, there are some things I appreciate more and some other things that could be improved. The engine and transmission remain creamy smooth and quiet and over the past months, I've seen a high mpg of 42 and a low of just over 35: average is 37 mpg. The cabin remains quiet and comfortable. That commander knob I mentioned is easy to use but I do find myself wishing for a simple tuning knob. I just had my oil changed for the first time and it seems like the mileage has improved slightly -- a mpg or 2 on the highway. "surly's mazda fuelly" Would I buy again? WIthout reservation -- I love the thing. UPDATE: 1-28-17: over 14,000 miles and just had the oil changed for the 3rd time. The car seems to be loosening up nicely -- the exhaust seems a little more sporty sounding and the motor feels more willing to rev as the miles accumulate. No problems at all and I still love driving my little "go-devil." Mileage averages about 36mpg overall. Google surly's mazda fuelly for more stats. 7-30: over 22,000 miles -- love the car. Averaging 36 mpg. One of the greatest features of the car is the rain-sensing wipers. I've looked at other cars and few have this feature. I can't imagine NOT having them. The car has been a delight to own and to drive and I still recommend it. 1/2018: The Mazda was my favorite car -- loved the thing. Never a problem. Didn't like the dealer or Mazda. Never heard one thing from either about my satisfaction with the car or my sales experience. Mazda lost a customer because they didn't acknowledge me as a customer. Got a new Subaru Crosstrek instead -- feeling the love as an owner with email surveys about my satisfaction with the vehicle, with the dealer and welcome letters, acknowledgements of ownership from Subaru and from the dealer. Free maintenance, "encore delivery" service, donation made to ASPCA, complimentary car washes at the dealer. Nothing, ever, from Mazda other than postcards "reminding me it might be time for an oil change." Like I said, they lost a customer because I loved my car. Final mileage, about 29,900.
2016 Mazda 3 video
[MUSIC PLAYING] This is Alex DeWeaver for Edmunds with the Mazda 3, available as a sedan and over here as a hatch, where it takes on the Volkswagen Golf, the Ford Focus, and the Honda Civic. The 3 is another handsome Mazda. We love this front end section with its curvaceous lights and its dramatic, sweeping shoulder line. Mazda likes to portray itself as a kind of sporty alternative, and that's played out in a choice of two engines. There's a two liter with 155 horsepower, or 2.5 with 184, which does 0 to 60 in a little over 7 seconds. It's good to drive, it's economical. Both engines achieve around 40 MPG on the highway. What's more? It's got a cool interior. Inside, you might think somebody left their iPad sitting on top of the fascia. But this is actually a feature common to most modern Mazdas, from the little CX3, to the MX5 sports car. It's a touch screen, but it also has secondary controls down here on the center console. A six speed manual gearbox is standard, or you can opt for six speed automatic. The overall feel of the interior is pleasingly sporty. Check out this carbon fiber look plastic on top of the fascia. And overall, the quality is good. Thankfully, the 3 isn't all mouth and no trousers. It also has some of the best dynamics in its class, which is saying something when rivals include the Focus and the Golf. Priced from $18,000 is also good value, which helps to explain why it's A-rated in a hugely competitive class.
The versatile 2016 Mazda 3 offers powerful yet fuel-efficient engines, sporty driving dynamics and a comfortable ride. It is one of the best all-around compact cars.
2016 3 Highlights
|Combined MPG||33 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$113/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- 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%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood