The Mazda3 combines sportiness with excellent gas mileage -- 33 mpg overall. That has earned it one of the top spots in our compact-car Ratings.
No boring fuel-economy special, the 3 is a joy to drive, thanks to super-sharp handling, sprightly engines, and smooth transmissions. Power is plentiful even from the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder; the optional 2.5-liter is somewhat more relaxed to drive, but costs about one mpg overall. Manual transmissions are still available on most versions, appealing to the enthusiast.