Face-Off: Mazda3 vs. Toyota Corolla

These redesigned compact sedans have their own strengths. Which one is right for you?

The Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla are reliable, fuel-efficient compact cars that have historically performed well in Consumer Reports’ tests, and both remain popular with CR members. The Toyota has been efficient and reliable, although somewhat boring, and the Mazda3 has always been a sportier choice among its rivals, but it’s also reliable and fuel-efficient. 

More Compact Sedans

These two cars are similarly priced, but there are some significant differences. Which is more fuel-efficient? Which one has a better ride? Which one has a nicer cabin?

To answer those questions, we take an in-depth look at these two sedans to compare how they fare in CR’s testing and surveys. Then we let you know which one we think is tops.

Mazda3

The Case for It
The Mazda3, redesigned for 2019, now feels mature and substantial, and much of this comes from its interior. The cabin’s look and feel stand out among its competitors, including the Corolla. All of the touch points, such as the armrests and steering wheel, are nicely padded, and there are high-quality trim, buttons, and knobs throughout. 

The car’s premium feel also stems from its quiet cabin, which is mostly free of road and wind noise. Neither the Mazda nor the Toyota has great seats, but the Mazda’s seat offers a little more support all-around because of the taut imitation leather upholstery. A better choice would be to go with the Preferred trim to get the powered eight-way adjustable driver's seat, which includes multiway lumbar support.

The Mazda has a firm ride, and the suspension does a good job of soaking up road imperfections and preventing them from upsetting passengers. On our track, the sedan has balanced and predictable behavior at its handling limits. 

We’re impressed at how quick the Mazda is, taking just 7.7 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission work well together.

The car performs extremely well in our braking tests, stopping in just 125 feet on dry pavement and 134 feet on wet. The Corolla takes 9 feet longer in each test, which could be the difference between a crash and avoiding one.

The 3 is also available with all-wheel drive; the Subaru Impreza is the only other compact car with it. AWD is available on both the sedan and hatchback, but only if you choose the automatic transmission.

And last, the Mazda3 offers three years or 36,000 miles of roadside assistance coverage, one year longer than Toyota’s coverage of two years or unlimited miles.