October 18th, 2012

Review: Behind the Wheel of a Mazda3

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Groovy Green Livin Mazda3

On a recent Tuesday afternoon a sky blue mica colored Mazda3 showed up in my driveway. After a quick tutorial the keys were handed over to me and the car was mine for a full week. Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?

At first glance this car appeared too small to serve as our main family car-we have three boys, a dog and tend to need space for our “stuff”.  Over the week I certainly learned the importance of test driving a car before ruling it out.

Throughout my life I’ve never really been much of a car enthusiast, but that has been changing over the past few years. The creature comforts in a car have become more important, perhaps because I spend a good chunk of time in my car chauffeuring little people from place to place.

The Mazda3 was a pleasant surprise in many ways. It definitely falls into the ‘greener’ car category because of its fuel efficiency. Overall the car grew on me and when the 7 days were up I have to admit I was sad to see it go.

The interior of the Mazda3 is bigger than it looks

Groovy Green Livin Mazda 3 front view

I’m pushing 5’4″  on a good day with heels, but my husband is 6’2″ so he put the Mazda3 to the test in terms of spaciousness.  When he got in the car to take it for a spin he noted that there was plenty of head and leg room for a tall driver. The Mazda3 is a 5 passenger vehicle and my kids were psyched to all sit together in the back seat. I’m thinking over time the excitement of brotherly love in the back seat could wear off and it could get ugly back there. Overall the car was very spacious for a seemingly small sedan.

The trunk was large enough to handle the weekly groceries for a hungry family of five.  I actually remembered my reusable bags.

Groovy Green Livin Mazda 3 trunk space

Fuel Efficiency

This car is equipped with something called a SKYACTIV engine. Mazda touts it as “a 2.0-liter marvel that produces 10% to 15% more low/mid-range torque, along with 15% lower fuel consumption and emissions than our previous 2.0-liter engine”.  Over the week I did mainly city driving and the car scored 26.2 mpg. Not bad at all.

Groovy Green Livin fuel efficiency

GPS and other interior features

This car falls into the “light frills” category. It comes with everything you need to make it a comfortable ride, but there weren’t many bells and whistles to WOW you. The GPS system is intuitive and not intrusive-located just above and to the right of the steering wheel. I used it quite a bit throughout the week. Satellite radio was a big hit with the kids.

Groovy Green Livin Mazda 3 dashboard

There were heating control options for the two front seats. The steering wheel had a lot of buttons. It was somewhat overwhelming and I’m wondering if they were all necessary. The car is also missing a dedicated iPod jack. In order to hook-up your iPod you will need to supply your own charger.

The sunroof was a nice feature -I’m a big fan of extra daylight in the car. The only downside was the omission of a single touch system to close the sunroof (the button has to be held down until the sunroof closes). One of our favorite features was the cool blue back light that lights up the drivers feet at night.

One of the “light frill” features of this car is the blind spot monitor located on the side mirror which beeps if another car is in your way when changing lanes. The technology is great, but for some reason I wasn’t able to allow myself to rely on this feature.

The car is extremely spacious for a small sedan. There were plenty of nooks and crannies for storage throughout. Cup holders were plentiful, which is a must for me. It was raining most of the week and the wipers did their job. The interior light turns on as soon as the car unlocks making it easy to navigate around the car at night.

Groovy Green Livin Mazda2 door buttons

How the Mazda3 handles

Groovy Green Livin Mazda3 and me

I had one sunny day with the car and the rest of the week was a rainy mess. The Mazda3 handled the rainy days quite well. Given the small size of the car it was simple to turn around and there weren’t many blind spots.

The brakes were a bit squirrely and sensitive to the touch. The car is front wheel drive and the suspension overall felt tight. I would be curious to know how this car handles a typical winter in the northeast.

Mazda3 Value

The MSRP of the Mazda3 is $22,300. Add in the bells and whistles and your now up to $24,970. Not a bad price.

Overall impression of the Mazda3

This car grew on me as the week went by. It’s not a practical everyday car for our large family, but it could work as a second family car  or a commuter car. Overall the car was fun to drive and the blue color got a lot of honks and waves.

Interested in more information on the Mazda3 or want to find a dealer near you – click on the link below. Let me know what you find!

Disclaimer: The Mazda 3 was loaned to me from a 3rd party. I was not compensated or asked to write a favorable review. All  opinions are my very own.

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