The Mazda3 has always stood out as a sportier choice than compact rivals from Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. Compared to the previous version, the current Mazda3 has an improved, elegant, and quiet interior and a refined ride. But these improvements come at the cost of fuel efficiency and a less exciting driving experience.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission work well together, as the car always delivers power predictably, without hesitation. But this combo’s efficiency is a letdown. Our front-wheel-drive car achieved only 30 mpg overall in our tests. Although commendable by itself, this result means the Mazda is no longer among the category’s most fuel-efficient cars. A less powerful 2.0-liter engine is also available and might be more frugal.
The Mazda’s ride is firm, but the suspension effectively soaks up impacts from bumps and ruts. The cabin is significantly quieter than the previous-generation Mazda3, which contributes to the car’s mature and substantial feel.