Mazda has a tradition of building zippy, entertaining small cars, something that's evident in the Mazda 3, which always has been known for its sharp handling and engaging nature. Of course, the Mazda 3 still provides suitable levels of economy and practicality, too. That's because even the base Mazda 3 comes with a refined engine and a surprisingly sophisticated interior, while higher trims offer more power and plenty of useful convenience and luxury-oriented features.
There have now been three generations of the Mazda 3. Whether you're shopping for a new or used small sedan or hatchback, the Mazda 3 is a car we highly recommend.
Current Mazda 3
While some small cars do little more than meet the basic requirements of economic transportation, the Mazda 3 is an overachiever. You'll first notice this in the way the car drives — it's quick to accelerate and eager to race around turns. Inside, you'll find a modern, grown-up look and generally high-quality materials. Plus, there are plenty of standard features on the higher trim levels, so your passengers are bound to think you paid more than you actually did.
Two body styles are offered, a sedan and a hatchback, and both are offered in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels. Sport models include air-conditioning, power accessories, a 7-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth, and Touring models add alloy wheels, simulated leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, automatic wipers, blind-spot monitoring and low-speed automatic braking.
The Grand Touring has LED headlights, leather upholstery, a Bose stereo, sunroof and satellite radio. Many of the features offered as standard on the Grand Touring model are options on lower trims. You can also get an optional package for the Grand Touring that bundles some extra safety features.
Sport and Touring models get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. Standard on Grand Touring and optional on the Touring hatchback is a more powerful 2.5-liter engine good for 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmissions are offered for both engines. No matter which powertrain you choose, fuel economy is impressive for a small car.
On the road, most drivers should be happy with either engine; the 2.0-liter engine provides quicker-than-average acceleration, although it does sound a bit noisy under hard acceleration. The larger 2.5, meanwhile, is quicker still, with only a minimal drop in fuel economy. Also notable is the Mazda 3's nimble handling, a result of its quick steering and nicely tuned suspension that still provides a comfortable ride. Inside, the seating is roomy, even for 6-footers in back, and both the sedan and hatchback offer above-average amounts of cargo space. As a whole, we think the latest Mazda 3 is a top choice for a small car.
Read the most recent 2017 Mazda 3 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Mazda 3 page.