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2018 Mazda MAZDA3 Overview

The Mazda3 has always stood out among compact vehicles. While competitors were focused on efficiency and maximum space, Mazda’s little compact was more about driving dynamics and good style. That didn’t change when the third-generation Mazda3 debuted in 2014, nor when it received a subtle refresh in 2017. For 2018, it gets minimal changes.

Mazda continues to offer the Mazda3 in both sedan and hatchback configuration. As compact cars go, it’s handsome and clean. The lines and proportions almost fool one into thinking it’s a much more pedigreed car than it is. And it helps that Mazda offers it in eye-catching colors like Soul Red Metallic and Eternal Blue Mica. Inside, the theme carries over from the front, with a tasteful blend of modern shapes and function and a high regard toward ergonomics.

The Mazda3 gets its power from one of two engines, a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine with 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque, and an uprated 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder that bumps things up to a nearly-square 184 hp and 185 lb-ft. Both engines are exclusively available in front-wheel-drive configuration, but allow buyers to select either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. Fuel economy for the 2.0-liter is rated at 28 mpg city and 37 highway, versus 27 and 36 for the bigger 2.5-liter. In all configurations, reviewers say the Mazda3 provides plenty of driving excitement, handling at the top of its class and relaying all the right tactile information. The favored choice for this is, of course, the 2.5-liter and 6-speed manual transmission combination.

All three former trims, Sport, Touring and Grand Touring, return for both body styles. Sport, the entry-level trim comes well-equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, power-folding side mirrors, a 7-inch touch-screen display, and keyless start. Touring ups the game with 18-inch wheels, automatic headlamps, dual-zone climate control, a powered driver’s seat, leatherette upholstery and rain-sensing wipers. A rear spoiler is new for 2018. Finally, Grand Touring models get leather upholstery, Bose audio system, a color instrument panel LCD, and a power sunroof. For 2018, there are also full-LED headlights, taillights, and fog lights.

Every Mazda3 comes with a standard reversing camera and six airbags: driver and passenger frontal and side units, and side curtain units for both rows. For 2018, Mazda has chosen to make its i-Activsense safety suite part of the Premium Equipment Package for Grand Touring models, bringing with it adaptive front lighting, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and traffic sign recognition. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested the Mazda3 in 2017, where it earned top ratings in all crash categories and crash-avoidance tests, and the agency’s coveted Top Safety Pick + award.

The Mazda3 continues the brand’s tradition of bring truly sporting capabilities to ordinary segments, along with good looks and sophisticated technology. Even into its fifth year on the market, the model remains competitive when many of its competitors are newer to the market. For the buyer looking to graduate from a Miata or some other purpose-built sports car without losing all of the fun, look no further than the well-rounded Mazda3.


Kyree has always been fascinated with the automotive world, especially when it comes to premium European cars. But regardless of the vehicle—whether it's an efficient hybrid or the latest luxury sled—he's always ready to dispense information and advice. These days, he enjoys doing that here at CarGurus.

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