2018 Mazda 3 Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Sporty and confidence-inspiring performance
  • Some high-end features are unique to this class
  • Top crash test scores
  • Interior quality exceeds expectations
  • Ride quality can be a little stiff with optional 18-inch wheels
  • Cargo capacity ranks below the class leaders
  • Road and wind noise is noticeable at highway speeds
  • Less interior storage than rivals
List Price Range
$13,397 - $20,990

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Which 3 does Edmunds recommend?

We're partial to the hatchback for its cargo-carrying flexibility as well as its aesthetic appeal. Among the different trim level choices, the Touring trim presents a good balance of features for the price, plus it gets the more powerful engine. If your budget can stretch, the Grand Touring is a great pick that is eligible for a host of advanced safety features.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

7.9 / 10

The 2018 Mazda 3 isn't the quickest car in its class, but it is the best to drive. The Mazda 3 doesn't have the biggest cargo capacity in its class either, but it will certainly hold a whole lot of stuff. This is a clear case of the raw numbers not telling the entire story.

Inside and out, the Mazda 3 is attractive, and plenty of elements give it a more upmarket appeal. On the road, it's not just competent; it's actually entertaining and sporty to drive. Even if you're not into performance, this translates to a feeling that the car will respond to emergency maneuvers with confidence and ease.

In the competitive budget-conscious compact sedan and hatchback class, the 2018 Mazda 3 is a rarity for exceeding expectations and delivering far more than its price would suggest. We bore this out in a yearlong test of this car's current generation as well as subsequent evaluation of newer variants. You'd be remiss not to have it on your short list.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Mazda 3 as one of Edmunds' Best Used Cars.

2018 Mazda 3 models

The five-passenger 2018 Mazda 3 is available as a sedan or four-door hatchback. Both body styles are offered in Sport, Touring or Grand Touring trims.

The Sport trim is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (155 horsepower, 150 pound-feet of torque). The Touring and Grand Touring models get a 2.5-liter engine (184 hp, 185 lb-ft). A six-speed manual transmission is standard for all Mazda 3s, with a six-speed automatic available as an option.

Standard Sport trim features for the sedan include 16-inch steel wheels, remote keyless entry, keyless ignition, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth, the Mazda Connect infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, low-speed forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, emergency telematics, and a six-speaker stereo with two USB ports. The hatchback adds the upgrades of alloy wheels and a rear spoiler.

The sedan is eligible for the optional Preferred Equipment package that adds alloy wheels, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, heated mirrors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, upgraded upholstery, and a rear seat armrest with cupholders.

The Touring trim includes all of the above, along with 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, simulated leather upholstery, a six-way power driver's seat and heated front seats.

At the top of the range, the Grand Touring model gains LED exterior lights (headlights, foglights and taillights), a sunroof, a digital speedometer, an upgraded instrument panel display, leather upholstery, a nine-speaker Bose surround-sound system and satellite radio. To this, the Premium Equipment package adds adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, a heated steering wheel, paddle shifters (for the automatic transmission), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a navigation system, lane departure warning and intervention, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and braking for higher speeds, and a traffic sign reader.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Mazda 3 Sedan Grand Touring (2.5L inline-4 | 6-speed manual | FWD).

Since this test was conducted in 2017, the current Mazda 3 has received no significant revisions. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Mazda 3.

Driving

8.0
Mazda built its reputation on making driver's cars, and the 3 offers an excellent driving experience and rewarding handling dynamics. Some competitors offer more acceleration, and while the 3's transmission is well-behaved, it sometimes reacts more slowly than certain more modern units.

Acceleration

The 3's eager four-cylinder engine responds willingly, with linear delivery. The car feels like it has plenty to give, even at half throttle, and power builds naturally through the rev range. While our as-tested 0-60 mph time of 7.7 seconds won't set any records, the car feels brisk.

Braking

7.0
The brake pedal is solid and responsive, and the car is very stable, even during emergency braking. The brakes are easy to modulate and never feel grabby. The 60-0 mph emergency braking distance we measured of 121 feet isn't class-leading, but the brakes inspire confidence.

Steering

7.5
There's more steering feedback than in many competitors, and resistance builds nicely and naturally. The steering is quick and precise in turns, but the on-center feel is a little off. There is a small amount of play in the center where you don't get resistance and the wheel won't try to recenter.

Handling

8.0
This car definitely punches above its weight class when it comes to handling, making the Mazda rewarding to drive on twisting roads and through city streets. It changes direction with aplomb and communicates its intentions clearly, which inspires confidence.

Drivability

8.5
The transmission is well-behaved and downshifts when you need it without hunting around. Coupled with a responsive throttle, the 3 drives smoothly in almost all situations. The reaction from the paddle shifters is too slow to make them useful in spirited driving.

Comfort

7.5
Mazda has done a good job balancing ride comfort with performance. The front seats are nicely molded and padded — aside from the too-aggressive headrests. While sound insulation has been improved over older models, the Mazda 3's cabin is noisier on the highway than some competitors.

Seat comfort

7.0
The seats are well-molded, and the cushions comfortable even on long drives, although they don't have quite enough bolstering for a car that encourages fast turns. Unfortunately, the headrests are aggressively forward and some drivers may experience back and neck discomfort.

Ride comfort

8.0
The Mazda 3 is textbook "buttoned-down." This car takes you along for every dip and hump as it sticks to the road surface, but it still does a good job of absorbing bumps and harshness. Its mild performance orientation might make it too firm for some, but others will appreciate these characteristics.

Noise & vibration

6.5
The 3 is better insulated than some small cars, but enough noise makes it into the cabin to undermine its premium look a bit. At freeway speeds, road and tire noise is noticeable on all but the smoothest asphalt, and wind noise from the doors is consistent.

Climate control

7.5
The climate controls are easy to use, with big analog buttons and clear displays. Once set, we found we didn't need to fiddle with them. The dual-zone system regulates temperature without blasting harsh hot or cold air, and it kept us comfortable.

Interior

8.0
The Mazda 3's interior is very easy to use and live with. Mazda thoughtfully designed the interior around the driver, though taller people might feel slightly out of place. The steering wheel lacks some reach adjustment, and the dash-mounted head-up display will be awkwardly low for some.

Ease of use

8.5
The important controls are easy to find and operate. The combination of touchscreen and knob makes system navigation easy, and settings are largely intuitively placed. The Mazda's controls and technology are some of the friendliest in the class.

Getting in/getting out

8.0
The Mazda 3 gives you the sporty feeling of sitting low, but it's still quite easy to get into and out of. There's good access all around, thanks to square openings and a roofline that isn't too aggressive as it approaches the rear of the car. Rear legroom is lacking.

Driving position

7.5
Everything important is within easy reach from the driver's seat. Most drivers will find a comfortable position, thanks to the adjustable seat height and tilting steering wheel. Taller folks will wish for more steering-wheel telescope and find the door armrests and the head-up display are placed too low.

Roominess

7.5
Smart layout and design make the front seat feel spacious, with plenty of leg-, headroom and shoulder room, even for drivers over 6 feet. In the back seat, however, legroom shrinks significantly if the driver is tall and headroom might not accommodate adults with tall torsos.

Visibility

7.5
There's plenty of forward visibility, aided by door-mounted mirrors that also offer a good view behind. The rear three-quarter view is impaired by very thick roof pillars that merge into the high rear deck, but that's not unusual for the class, and the mirrors and blind-spot monitoring compensate admirably.

Quality

9.0
Smart design covers up the cost-cutting that's been done. The hard plastics are textured so they don't look cheap, and most touchpoints have been covered with soft-touch or premium-feeling materials. Everything feels solidly built as well, with no rattles or creaks during our testing.

Utility

6.5
While the Mazda 3 sedan offers folding seats, easy-to-find LATCH points, and a number of small-item storage options, it falls behind the class leaders in terms of practicality. A handful of design issues also hurt the usability of some of these features.

Small-item storage

7.0
The front seats get deep, water-bottle-ready door pockets, a cellphone tray and good-sized cupholders. But the center console box is small. Overall, storage is sufficient, but some competitors offer significantly more and with more clever integration.

Cargo space

6.0
At 12.4 cubic feet, the trunk is one of the smallest in class, but it is easy to load and unload items. Folding the rear seats gives you a nice flat cargo space, though that will usually require moving the front seats forward, a drawback for taller drivers. Having the seats down also impinges on front-seat movement.

Child safety seat accommodation

6.5
LATCH anchors are easy to find and clearly marked, with three anchors for outboard and middle positions. Unfortunately, larger, rear-facing car seats will impose on front-passenger space.

Technology

7.5
The Mazda 3 offers an extensive list of technology upgrades. It certainly has one of the best infotainment units in the class (which Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration would only improve). However, some competitors with more recent refreshes have better-executed driver aids.

Audio & navigation

8.5
Audio quality is quite good if you use the USB port, and the system can handle lots of volume without harshness or distortion. Navigation features are robust and straightforward, and it's easy to find points of interest on your route or nearby. The system gives clear directions that are mirrored in the head-up display.

Smartphone integration

7.5
Mazda keeps teasing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, but they're not here yet. Still, Bluetooth and the USB interface are easy to use and work well. Text message and email reading works, but response options are limited. Two USB ports and a 110-volt outlet are available up front.

Driver aids

6.5
Our tester was equipped with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. Unfortunately, the adaptive cruise in particular lags behind the competition, with the system disengaging — while the car is still in motion — below 15 mph.

Voice control

8.0
Mazda's voice controls take a laudable stab at understanding the driver, and they work much better than some competitor systems, albeit a little slowly. The system will try to prompt you to get you where you want to go, though it occasionally fails to do anything and leaves you guessing why.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall7.9 / 10
Driving8.0
Comfort7.5
Interior8.0
Utility6.5
Technology7.5

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2018 Mazda 3.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Zippy but refined
David Tate ,03/22/2018
Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
After spending the past number of years driving large SUVs, I finally made the leap back into a smaller, sportier car. I’ve considered other smaller cars over the years, but none really piqued my interest for one reason or another. I wanted a driver’s car but wasn’t really wanting to pay a premium price. I also wanted a practical car but didn’t want to sacrifice performance and pure fun. For me, the Mazda 3 is a perfect amalgamation of what I’ve been looking for. It’s sporty yet refined, small but not minute, and practical but not boring in the least. It handles way better than anything in it’s price range. The fuel efficiency rivals some hybrid cars. The interior is flawless. The seats envelope the driver perfectly and lend a feeling of mutual comfort and secure fit. For the price, the engine is quick enough. Sure, I’d rather be in the 250 HP range, but that would require a compromise in aesthetics or a price increase of at least $15k. At this point, I’m extremely pleased with my purchase. Do your own research on this car and compare it to others in its price range and above. For pure driving experience and design, you won’t find anything comparable. Highly recommended.
Practical and fun are not mutually exclusive
Michael Gallegos,07/14/2018
Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
Just bought a 2018 Mazda 3 Hatchback Sport and I cannot rave more about this car. I absolutely love it. I was looking for something affordable, reliable, and fuel efficient. In other words practicality was my number one concern and the hatchback delivers as promised. It has plenty of cargo space with the rear seats folded down. It supplies all that I mentioned while looking good and putting a smile on my face. The car has adequate power for merging on the highway and passing. It is also a blast to push through corners/curvy roads. The cars handles extremely well and the powertrain is eager to play while in sport mode. I consistently exceed the EPA estimates for MPG. I'll usually get around 29-31 MPG in the city and 39-42 mpg on hwy (with free flowing traffic going around 65 mph of course). Keep in mind this is all with an automatic. I was going to go for the 6 speed manual but I deal with LA traffic on my daily commute and could no longer bare it with a manual so I opted for the auto. If you're looking for something practical that isn't an appliance I would definitely recommend at least test driving the mazda 3.
Very happy
Ron,12/18/2017
Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 6M)
Just the right combination of performance, saftey, space and reliability. Its big enough to carry my gear but small enough to park easily in the city. I cant beleive I am getting well over 30 mpg in a 50/50 highway/local mix. Id buy it again in a heartbeat.
Great Car at this Pricepoint
Matt,09/25/2018
Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
Was coming out of a C Class Mercedes and wanted a hatchback for less than 30K. My list of desired attributes was quite long, and the Mazda 3 checked every box save one, which I’ll get too later. The car is built for those who enjoy driving and that can’t be emphasized enough. Just sitting in the drivers seat informs you that everything is engineered with the driver in mind. Out on the road the engine is responsive, the steering direct, and the suspension is a sheer delight. The interior is beautifully designed and better than most anything at this pricepoint. Further, everything works as designed. The Bose stereo is quite nice and a must have. I got the premium package so every safety feature imaginable is on the vehicle. Most of these I didn’t have on my 2015 Mercedes. The blind spot monitoring is my favorite safety nanny, just disable the audio notifications or it will drive you nuts. After driving over 1600 miles I’m averaging a little over 31 mpg, which is quite nice for a car this sporty. The front seats are very comfortable and fit both me and my wife like a glove. The suspension is firm and with the 18 inch wheels you can feel some bumps. But on balance the ride is superb. My 89 year old mom is quite comfortable In either the front or the back. The only negative with the car is road noise, which has been documented quite well in the professional reviews of the car. I took 2 extended test drives to make sure it was acceptable as a daily driver. On most surfaces it is just not a big deal, and in fact compares favorably with higher priced cars. And understand, I was previously driving a Mercedes. But on concrete surfaces the road noise is definitely transmitted into the cabin. The overall positives of the vehicle far outweigh this one issue though. Drive for yourself and be the judge. For me, it’s a great car to drive and a steal of a deal in the compact class.

Features & Specs

MPG
26 city / 35 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
184 hp @ 5700 rpm
MPG
26 city / 35 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
184 hp @ 5700 rpm
MPG
28 city / 37 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
155 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
25 city / 33 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
184 hp @ 5700 rpm
See all Used 2018 Mazda 3 features & specs

Safety

Our experts like the 3 models:

Smart Brake Support
Warns if a front collision is deemed imminent and automatically applies the brakes if you don't react in time.
Lane Keep Assist
Alerts the driver if the car begins to drift out of its lane and performs steering corrections if the driver does not.
Advanced Blind-Spot Monitoring
Alerts the driver if a vehicle is approaching or lurking in your blind spot and chimes if you signal for a lane change in that direction.

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover10.5%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2018 Mazda 3
Used 2018 Mazda 3 Overview

The Used 2018 Mazda 3 is offered in the following submodels: 3 Hatchback, 3 Sedan. Available styles include Touring 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6A), Sport 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 6A), Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 6A), Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 6M), Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6A), Sport 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M), Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6M), Sport 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M), Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 4cyl 6M), and Touring 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 Mazda 3?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 Mazda 3 trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 Mazda 3 Touring is priced between $13,599 and$20,990 with odometer readings between 2852 and44576 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Mazda 3 Sport is priced between $13,041 and$17,997 with odometer readings between 8388 and50004 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Mazda 3 Grand Touring is priced between $13,991 and$20,500 with odometer readings between 4652 and85097 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2018 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) 2018 Mazda 3 for sale near. There are currently 39 used and CPO 2018 3s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $13,041 and mileage as low as 2852 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 2018 Mazda 3.

Can't find a used 2018 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 $16,313.

Find a used Mazda for sale - 5 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $15,861.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda 3 for sale - 6 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $8,026.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mazda for sale - 10 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $17,847.

Should I lease or buy a 2018 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.

Check out Mazda lease specials
Check out Mazda 3 lease specials