2017 Mazda 3 Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2017 Mazda 3 should be right at the top of your list if you're looking for a compact car that doesn't feel cheap or entry-level. For the last several years, the Mazda 3 has been one of our favorite compact cars thanks to its upscale interior, fun-to-drive personality and easy-to-use infotainment controls. And this year, the Mazda 3 gets a host of small improvements, including an updated dashboard design and changes that Mazda says help improve both handling and ride comfort. The best, it appears, just keeps on getting better.
Practicality and versatility are still part of the Mazda 3's repertoire, too. It is available as either a sedan or hatchback, so you can pick the hatchback if you need some added cargo-carrying capacity. And on the 3's higher trim levels, Mazda offers some advanced features to choose from, such as adaptive cruise control, a recently updated (in color instead of monochrome) head-up display and a special i-Eloop package that helps boost fuel economy.
As good as the 3 is, though, you might also want to check out a few other cars. The 2017 Honda Civic is another favorite of ours thanks to its roomy and well-appointed interior and sporty performance. The 2017 Ford Focus is also worth a closer look, as is the redesigned 2017 Chevrolet Cruze. And if you're looking for something with a bit more value, check out the chic but affordable 2017 Kia Forte. Overall, though, the 2017 Mazda 3 is a great choice.
Standard safety equipment on the 2017 Mazda 3 includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, a rearview camera, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Low-speed forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert come standard on Touring and Grand Touring models. Other optional safety equipment includes a lane departure warning and intervention system and a more capable forward collision warning and mitigation/braking system.
In Edmunds testing, a Mazda 3 Grand Touring hatchback came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, which is an average distance for the segment.
The 2017 Mazda 3 crash test ratings have not yet been released, but the 2016 ratings have been. And because the car's structure hasn't changed significantly, those ratings will likely carry over. In government crash testing, the Mazda 3 received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with five stars for total front-crash protection and five stars for total side-crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Mazda 3 the highest possible rating of Good in its moderate-overlap and small-overlap front-impact crash tests. The 3 also earned a Good rating for the side-impact, roof strength and head restraint/seat (whiplash protection) tests.
What's new for 2017
Trim levels & features
The 2017 Mazda 3 is a compact car available as a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback. Both are available in four different trim levels: Sport, Touring, Touring 2.5 and Grand Touring.
The base Sport comes with 16-inch steel wheels, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, remote locking and unlocking, keyless ignition, a 7-inch touchscreen display with knob-based controller, Bluetooth connectivity, voice controls and a six-speaker audio system with two USB ports, an auxiliary input, HD radio and smartphone-enabled internet radio. Options for the Sport are packaged together in the Preferred Equipment package that adds 16-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, premium cloth upholstery, a rear-seat armrest, automatic headlights, automatic windshield wipers and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The Touring includes all features from the Preferred Equipment package plus 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition and entry, low-speed forward collision warning and mitigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, imitation-leather (premium vinyl) upholstery, a six-way power driver seat, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The optional Popular Equipment package (sedan only) adds a rear lip spoiler, a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a CD player, satellite radio and a premium nine-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system.
Also available is the Touring 2.5 (hatchback only), which is essentially the same equipment as the standard Touring, but with a more powerful engine and a sunroof.
The Grand Touring gets the Popular Equipment package equipment plus the aforementioned more powerful engine, LED foglights, a gloss-black grille insert, a digital speedometer, a head-up display and full leather upholstery. The Premium Equipment package adds adaptive LED headlights and daytime running lights, LED taillights, a heated steering wheel, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a navigation system. Also optional for the Grand Touring is the i-Activsense Safety Package, which adds a more capable forward collision warning and mitigation system, a lane departure warning and intervention system, automatic high-beam headlight control and adaptive cruise control. Separately, the i-Eloop package adds the i-Eloop energy recovery system and active grille shutters.
The 2017 Mazda 3 is powered by one of two different engines. The first is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. It drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. Standard on the Touring 2.5 and Grand Touring is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine generating 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. It is also available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
In Edmunds testing of a Mazda 3 sedan with 2.0-liter engine and the automatic transmission, we recorded a zero-to-60-mph time of 8.3 seconds, which is quicker than average for a compact car with a base engine. A Mazda 3 hatchback with the optional 2.5-liter engine achieved a 0-to-60 time of 7.5 seconds, which puts it near the top of its class. The Honda Civic with its optional turbo engine upgrade, for comparison, did the same sprint in 6.9 seconds.
Regardless of engine, transmission and body style, EPA fuel economy estimates are impressive for the Mazda 3. Numbers range from 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway) with the 2.5-liter engine and the six-speed manual up to 32 mpg combined (28 city/37 highway) with the 2.0-liter engine and the automatic transmission.
A huge part of the 2017 Mazda 3's appeal is how well it drives. With both the 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter engines, the 3 accelerates quickly and smoothly. Given the choice, we'd go with the bigger 2.5-liter engine, though, because it is more powerful without sacrificing much in the way of fuel economy. Shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission are quick and smooth as well.
In the past, we've criticized the Mazda 3 for having a rough ride with the 18-inch wheels and tires. This year, though, several updates were made to the suspension in an effort to remedy that ride stiffness. We haven't had the chance to fully test this new suspension yet; we also haven't driven the Mazda 3 with its new G-Vectoring Control, designed to improve handling. We'll update this review once we've thoroughly tested both.
The interior of the 2017 Mazda 3 has been one of the best in its class for several years, and this year it appears to have become even better. The cabin is full of high-quality panels, materials and switches, all of which are laid out in a logical and user-friendly manner. What's more, the Mazda 3 feels upscale in its class thanks to features such as imitation-leather or leather upholstery standard on almost all models, a color head-up display, adaptive LED headlights and adaptive cruise control. Most of that stuff just isn't offered on many of the Mazda 3's competitors.
Previously criticized for looking a bit tacked-on, the Mazda 3's center console screen gets a new housing this year that helps it look slightly better integrated into the dashboard. The screen itself is operated with a BMW/Audi-esque center console knob that makes commands extremely simple and quick. But if you don't like the knob, the crisp 7-inch center display is also a touchscreen, which makes it ideal for either preference. Few systems in the compact car class are as likable.
Also top of their class are the 3's front seats. They are very comfortable on long road trips, yet they're sufficiently bolstered to hold you in place during enthusiastic driving (which you'll probably want to do a lot of in this highly enjoyable-to-drive car). Rear seats are comfortable, but legroom is an inch or two behind class leaders. Rivals such as the Toyota Corolla or the Volkswagen Jetta offer more room for adults to get comfortable or for bulky child car seats. The sedan's 12.4-cubic-foot trunk is a bit small for the class and so is the hatchback, with 20.2 cubic feet of cargo storage behind the rear seats. When you fold the seats flat in the hatchback, though, it opens up to 47.1 cubic feet of storage, which is a few cubes above average.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.