November 11, 2011
Our year with the 2011 Mazda 2 is over. By the time you read this it will have left our hands and the task of writing the wrap-up article will have landed with a thud on someone's desk.
After one year and 15,372 miles of recorded fill-ups the Mazda 2 precisely nailed the EPA's combined fuel economy rating of 32 MPG. Our best tanks have exceeded the promise of 35 mpg highway on several occasions.
But it was close. The Average Lifetime MPG read 31.9 as recently as two tanks earlier, which would still have rounded up to 32 in the all-integer world of window sticker mpg. But a pair of final tanks at 34.0 and 34.5 nudged the average up to 31.98 mpg, which rounds to 32.0 and adds a decimal point of precision to the result.
Thing is, I hadn't looked at any of these figures beforehand. I didn't know it was that close and I didn't hypermile the thing to bring the numbers up. I simply drove as per usual in my semi-impatient style. And those last two tanks weren't highway tanks, either. There was plenty of city mixed in there, too. Seems to me the Mazda 2's rated mpg is getting easier to achieve with every mile.
One thing seems clear: the Mazda 2's predicted window sticker MPG numbers are absolutely realistic.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16,462 miles
November 10, 2011
Yes, I know that our 2011 Mazda 2 doesn't have a real temperature gauge, and I know that some feel the blue and red thermometer icons are a poor substitute.
But now that the mornings are getting cold I really like the blue light.
Unlike a near-motionless gauge, the bright blue lamp draws attention to the fact that the car is cold, too cold for the heater to do anything other than pump freezing air into the cabin at a time when I really, really don't want it. And it's timed to wink off when the engine's coolant is juuuust warm enough to make some real heat -- an important thing to know in a car with manual climate controls.
Would I like a gauge? Would it accomplish the same thing if I watched for the needle to lift off the peg? Sure, but that's not something I see out of the corner of my eye as easily as this. I mainly use a gauge to monitor things on the hot end of the spectrum.
Even if the Mazda 2 had a proper temperature gauge I'd want to keep this blue light, too. It's special.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehcicle Testing @ 14,406 miles
November 09, 2011
You may not know this, but Tom Bodett drove our 2011 Mazda 2 Touring last night, and he left the light on for me.
Note to HR: That was a joke.
Actually I left the light on for me.
Point is I was met with this ominous scenario when I stumbled out the front door at 5:40 this morning, bleary-eyed and behind schedule. Would she start?
No hesitation, no sluggish starter behavior, no problemo. She fired right up and I was on my way as per usual.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16,320 miles
November 09, 2011
Our 2011 Mazda 2 has proven to be entertaining to drive in a small car sort of way, even though the suspension itself is fairly standard, as we'll soon see.
The key to Zoom Zoom is how the inevitable tradeoffs are managed? Is ride more important? Noise? Steering? That hard to define fun-to-drive element? In Mazda's case the answer skews toward the fun end of the meter.
The way they do it is with suspension and tire tuning, through conscious choices made with regard to spring rates, damper settings, bushing hardness and the internal construction of the tires that support it all.
Much of this is invisible in a suspension walkaround, but we'll have a look anyway.
November 08, 2011
Once a week I handle school pick-up duty in the evening, bringing home my eldest daughter and two of her friends after their after-school art program lets out. Every time I'm driving something different, of course, so they never know what car to keep an eye out for. It gets really interesting if their cell phones are dead (or mine) and I can't clue them in ahead of time.
Last night it was the 2011 Mazda 2, a car I signed out before I remembered that I was the night's assigned car pool captain. We're talking high school kids, so they're not exactly small of stature, and they come armed with enormous backpacks.
No problemo. Thie Mazda 2 has a real backseat. Six-foot-two me had only to slide his seat up a notch. I'm used to that.
I should probably bring them home in cars of this type more often, so as to not raise their expectations overmuch for the type of car they'll most likely be driving once they get their driver's license. My daughter is already studying for her learner's permit. *gulp*
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16, 216 miles
November 07, 2011
Last Friday, Scott told you about the terrible grinding noise from our Mazda 2 that was caused by some free road wire we picked up in the Mazda's right rear suspension. He called it a coat hanger.
Well, at about 8-feet and nearly as thick as the lettering on a Bic pen, I'd say it's a little more than a coat hanger.
November 04, 2011
Yesterday I'm driving our long-term Mazda 2 to work and I immediately know there's a problem. How? By the horrible grinding noise.
It was impossible to miss. But it did stop when the car stopped. So I pulled over to take a look. Sounded like it was coming from the right front, but I wasn't sure. I could see no problem. I drove straight to Mazda Santa Monica anyway.
What could it be? Brake caliper? Wheel bearing? A tire issue? Nope, Coat hanger.
November 03, 2011
After 16,000 miles in our fleet, our manual-shift 2011 Mazda 2 is averaging 31.9 mpg. That is oh so close to its EPA-estimated 32 mpg combined rating. The EPA's city figure is 29 mpg; the highway number is 35.
Last weekend, I put a lot of miles on the 2 and realized how easy it is to always be in the 30s with this car. (Maybe you'd argue that mpg should always be in the 40s with a subcompact, but at this point in the 21st century, most cars in this class are only in the 30s... our long-term 2009 Fit averaged 31.4 mpg over 21,000 miles.)
My mileage dipped to 31.1 mpg on the tank that included my back-road run and subsequent commute in heavy traffic. But on the next tank, which was mostly open highway, it was back up to 35.6.
I'm certainly not arguing that the Mazda 2 is the perfect small car. The 1.5-liter engine sounds good when you're accelerating hard, but it also never really shuts up, so there's a constant drone on the highway that not everyone will be willing to tolerate. There's also a lot of road noise, which though not unexpected in this class (particularly in the 2, which sacrifices a few comforts here and there to keep curb weight in check; ours weighs 2,274 pounds), nevertheless does get a bit tiresome during longer stints in the car.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 16,102 miles
November 02, 2011
You're not going to get great seats in a car that stickers for $16,330, but I'm pretty content with the driver seat in our long-term 2011 Mazda 2.
During my Ortega Highway/South Main Divide Road drive, the seat held me in place well enough. It wasn't perfect, but I wasn't sliding around so much that it was distracting. It probably helps that the seat is cloth (and high-quality cloth at that), because the "leather" in this price range is usually on the slippery side.
With that back-road detour on my drive back from Carlsbad, I ended up spending four straight hours in the driver seat and that included some time in stop-and-go traffic. The seat remained comfortable throughout that trip, providing adequate support. I will say that at 5 feet, 10 inches, I max out all the seat-track travel and I have the seat height set as low as it will go, sooo I'd be pretty surprised if a six-footer could make the same trip and be as comfortable as I was.
In addition, I took the car through countless cloverleaf entrance/exit ramps over the weekend, and by the end of it, my significant other was complaining about "inadequate lateral support." So I guess one person's adequate is another person's needs improvement.
November 01, 2011
One thing I still don't like about our 2011 Mazda 2 after 16,000 miles are the gauges. During my back-roads drive last week, I really wanted a bigger tachometer. This car is too much fun to have such a small tach.
I'm also tired of not having a temperature gauge; the car gives you the little blue light when the engine is cold. And it annoys me that the last pip on the digital fuel gauge flashes when the fuel range slips below an estimated 50 miles or so (the flashing is distracting), instead of triggering a dedicated fuel light.
However, I do find the all red color scheme easy on the eyes at night, even if it's a little low on contrast.