2014 Mazda 3 Long-Term Road Test | Wrap-Up

2014 Mazda 3 Long-Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (3)
  • Comparison (1)
  • Long-Term
 

Read the 2014 Mazda 3 S's introduction to our long-term fleet.

See all of the 2014 Mazda 3 S's long-term updates on this vehicle.

What We Got
We had two big decisions to make when it came to the redesigned 2014 Mazda 3.


2014 Mazda 3

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Body style was the first. The sedan sells better, but our personal favorite is the hatchback. Our hearts ultimately opted for the versatility of the five-door.

Engine type was the second. For 2014 Mazda offered an optional 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder. The new engine generated nearly 30 hp more than the existing 2.0-liter with a mileage penalty of only 2 mpg thanks to a standard six-speed automatic transmission. Seemed like a decent trade-off to us.

The least expensive 2.5-liter required a minimum S Touring trim and an MSRP starting at $25,890. We wanted a few options and stepped up to the S Grand Touring. Most notably, it included 18-inch wheels, paddle shifters, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, a head-up display, a sunroof, rain-sensing wipers and leather seats. With so many features attached to this trim level, we didn't add much in the way of options. A cargo mat ($70) and rear bumper guard ($125) were the only extras.

MSRP on our 2014 Mazda S Grand Touring was $27,585. We didn't have a chance to haggle that price down, as Mazda provided the vehicle on loan for a year. Here's how it fared.

Performance

  • "With its sharp steering, composed handling, quick-reacting transmission and well-bolstered seats, the Mazda 3 drives unlike anything else in the economy compact class.... The Mazda 3 offers a rarity for cars of this ilk: It's fun to drive, and not on a comparison basis. It's fun purely on its own merits." — Mike Monticello
  • "The Mazda 3 has quick reflexes, precise and communicative steering, intuitive behavior at the limit and an electronic stability control (ESC) that's calibrated to go to DEFCON 2 in our rapidly transitioning slalom test." — Chris Walton

2014 Mazda 3 S

MPG

  • "I think the 2.5-liter engine is the better choice. That extra 30 horsepower makes a world of difference in how this car behaves. Instead of just getting by when you need to make a pass, it jumps to attention and gets the job done quickly.... To top it off, its EPA mileage numbers are only two points down compared to the smaller engine." — Ed Hellwig
  • "For my trip I drove 242 miles, of which about 90 percent was highway driving. That highway driving was at speeds a little over 70 mph, with the air-conditioning on and using cruise control when possible.... When I did our official math calculation, it turned out our 3 achieved 39.5 mpg. The official EPA highway estimate is 37 mpg." — Brent Romans

Comfort

  • "Our 2014 Mazda 3's front seats mean business. They're not your usual economy car chairs. Check out those bolsters. And though they're comfortable enough, I wouldn't describe them as soft.... I like these seats." — Josh Jacquot
  • "However, after a couple hundred miles in the Mazda 3 on Los Angeles' notoriously choppy, variously paved and poured concrete (and sometimes rain-grooved) freeways, we're less impressed with the busy ride and road noise." — Chris Walton

Cargo Space

  • "Behold. The empty cargo bay of the 2014 Mazda 3 S. I loaded a shallow cabinet about 3 feet tall, six cardboard boxes full of books, and a handful of other loose knickknacks. Looked like I was living out of the car. When I finally cleared the hold, I stood back and stared. I decided a wagon/hatchback/truck bed will always have a place in my life.... They just make too much sense." — Dan Frio
  • "Here's another reason to like the 2014 Mazda 3: Order it as a hatchback and it's simple to throw things like a 29er mountain bike in the back. Sure, there are plenty of sedans out there with fold-down rear seats. But hatchbacks eliminate the pass-through issue. All the space is right there for ya; just throw the bike in." — Mike Monticello

2014 Mazda 3 S

Interior

  • "This thing's got some squeaks. Mainly, the annoying sound waves are emanating from, I think, where the A-pillars and windscreen meet at the bottom, but there's also some much lighter squeaking from what sounds like the intersection of the rear door and B-pillar." — Mike Magrath
  • "I was pleased with the amount of space the 3 has. I'm 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and I had my 6-foot friend sit in front of me in the front passenger seat. There was a suitable amount of legroom for me, and there was close to an inch of clearance above my head. Thigh support was OK, too. The only thing that really stood out from a comfort standpoint was the slim door panel armrest. It's not padded, and my elbow kept sliding off." — Brent Romans

Audio and Technology

  • "Our 2014 Mazda 3 has enough plugs to satisfy even the most device-heavy travelers. In total there are two USB plugs, one aux jack and one 12-volt outlet in the center console. I like that Mazda locates the plugs in the center console, too. It's cleaner." — Josh Jacquot
  • "I really like the technology interface.... It has what I consider to be an ideal setup of both a touchscreen and a multiuse controller knob.... You can make cursor/highlight inputs on the screen by turning it, moving it like a joystick and pressing down to select. There are also fixed buttons to immediately go to the most common things you'll use." — Brent Romans

Maintenance

  • "The first time around I was just putting along in traffic at around 15 or 20 mph when I felt a sizable clunk from the transmission. Then the warning lights came on and the car felt like it was in some sort of limp mode." — Ed Hellwig
  • "Back in May I took our Mazda 3 to the dealer for its first service and to have a TSB repair performed to eliminate the dash creak. I drove the car last week for the first time since then and it's clear the creak is back." — Josh Jacquot

2014 Mazda 3 S

Miscellaneous

  • "Problems arose, however, when I switched the child seat around to test out the rear-facing position.... This isn't problematic since I'm past the rear-facing kid stage. And in that sense, the Mazda 3 is still an ideal daily runabout, even with two kids in back. But if you've got very small children or have some on the way, this is something to note if you're considering a Mazda 3 purchase." — Brent Romans
  • "Beyond the fact the 3 is the driver's car of this segment, I also really like the styling Mazda has going on with this thing. It's the kind of car that gets you excited to drive it even when it's just sitting still in the parking lot. There are lots of nice curves and creases. And the car looks great whether you get it in hatchback or sedan configuration." — Mike Monticello

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
The Mazda 3 requested routine service at 7,500-mile intervals. We paid $66 for the first visit (oil/filter change), $96 at the second (oil/filter change, tire rotation and air filter) and $99 at the third (oil/filter change, tire rotation, brake rotor resurfacing).

Service Campaigns:
A Mazda Connect software reflash was the only item formally addressed as part of an open service campaign during our test. It was not the only item beyond regular maintenance, as we also had issues with a subframe creak, an unusual suspension creak, dashboard creak, object trapped in the windshield sprayer hose and a loose battery cable. Of this list, the dashboard noise was the one the dealer could never quite fix.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
The EPA estimates fuel economy for the 2.5-liter Mazda 3 at 31 mpg (27 city/37 highway). Our average after 20,000 miles was 30 mpg, with a best single-tank range of 358 miles. This car achieved 40 mpg on multiple occasions, though with some effort on the part of the driver.

Resale and Depreciation:
New, our 2014 Mazda 3 S Grand Touring had an MSRP of $27,585. After one year and 20,088 miles, Edmunds' TMV® Calculator valued the Mazda at $21,345. That added up to 23 percent depreciation, a good number for this segment.

Summing Up

Pros: More fun to drive than most compact cars, excellent front seats, easy to achieve its EPA mileage figures, excellent user interface for onboard systems, hatchback versatility, solid resale value.

Cons: Busy ride quality can get annoying on rough roads, our car had several unresolved interior creaks, rear-facing child seats are a tight fit in back.

Bottom Line: The Mazda 3 remains one of the most fun-to-drive cars in the compact class. There is a trade-off, however, in terms of ride quality. If that aspect of the car doesn't bother you, then the rest of the Mazda 3 will likely impress thanks to its sharp interior, fuel-efficient engine and ample features.

 
Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $261.17 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: Software update, attempt repair of windshield and dash creak, retighten loose battery cable, retighten subframe bolts, remove foreign object from wiper sprayers.
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 4
Days Out of Service: 5
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
 
Best Fuel Economy: 41.1 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 22.2 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 29.5 mpg
 
True Market Value at service end: $21,345 (private-party sale)
Depreciation: $6,240 (23% of original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 20,008 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.


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