Mazda Mazda3

#1 in Compact Cars Overall Score: 8.9 / 10
2016 Mazda Mazda3 View More Photos »
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2016 Mazda Mazda3 Overview

The 2016 Mazda Mazda3 ranks 1 out of 23 Compact Cars.

The 2016 Mazda3 earns a top spot in our compact car rankings, thanks to its universal praise from reviewers. Its enjoyable performance and value make it one of most attractive cars in a highly competitive ...

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Pros & Cons

  • Zippy handling
  • Outstanding fuel economy
  • High-quality interior
  • Simple infotainment system
  • Limited space in the back seats

Notable for 2016

  • i SV trim replaced by i Sport trim
  • Cruise control, rearview camera, and touch-screen infotainment system now standard

Mazda Mazda3 Rankings and Research

The 2016 Mazda Mazda3 ranking is based on its score within the Compact Cars category. Currently the Mazda Mazda3 has a score of 8.9 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 31 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.


Overall: 8.9
Critics' Rating: 9.6
Performance: 9.3
Interior: 8.0
Safety: 9.7
Reliability: 3_0


2016 Mazda Mazda3 Pictures

2016 Mazda Mazda3 Review

By Cody Trotter October 3, 2016

The 2016 Mazda3 earns a top spot in our compact car rankings, thanks to its universal praise from reviewers. Its enjoyable performance and value make it one of most attractive cars in a highly competitive class. It has athletic handling, great fuel economy, and a nicer cabin than many competitors. The main drawback is the cramped rear seats, though many other compact cars are also short on back-seat legroom.

The Mazda3 has a starting price under $18,000. That's below average for the class, making it a solid value. The car is available in hatchback and sedan body styles. The hatchback is more expensive, but only by an extra $700, making it a worthwhile upgrade if you want the vastly improved cargo space. If you want many of the available features or the more powerful available engine, you'll have to go with one of the higher trims, and you'll likely end up with a price tag in the mid-$20,000s, which is still less expensive than many fully loaded class rivals. The Mazda3 has average predicted reliability ratings, and it's covered by a three-year manufacturer warranty.

Performance Summary

Peppy Engine

The 2016 Mazda3's four-cylinder engine has decent power, but its acceleration isn't very exciting. Those who enjoy a more enthusiastic drive should opt for the larger four-cylinder engine, which delivers nearly 30 additional horsepower and is noticeably quicker off the line and on the highway.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available. Our analysis shows that the Mazda3's manual transmission is one of the best in the class and makes the car more fun to drive. However, the automatic shifts pretty smoothly in its own right and certainly won't hold you back.

The Mazda3 gets excellent fuel economy for the class with either engine. The base engine gets an estimated 30 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. Fuel economy only takes a slight hit with the larger engine, which is one reason why many automotive experts suggest choosing it. With the more powerful engine, the Mazda3 gets an estimated 28 mpg in the city and 39 on the highway.

Sporty Handling

The Mazda3's power output won't disappoint you, but its true calling card is its handling. It's arguably the most agile vehicle in the class, and you'll have no trouble hugging turns when you find yourself on winding roads. The sharp steering lets you maneuver with confidence, knowing that the car will go right where you want it to.

Some fun-to-drive cars have stiff suspensions that will jar you over rough roads, but the Mazda3 manages to deliver a smooth ride while still letting you carve corners. It also has strong brakes, so you don’t have to worry about being short on stopping power.

Read more about performance »

Interior Summary

Upscale Cabin

With its slick dashboard styling and top-notch materials, the Mazda3's cabin is one of the most attractive among compact cars. 

The spacious front seats are a good match for the cabin's elegant feel. They are supportive and well-bolstered, keeping you centered and comfortable even as you're jetting around turns. A couple of adults can fit in the rear seats, but they are short on legroom and don't have as much room as you'll find in the rear seats of class rivals like the Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Jetta.

Go Hatchback for Cargo Space

If one of your needs is a relatively large and versatile cargo area, you'll want to go with the Mazda3 hatchback instead of the sedan. The sedan offers 12.4 cubic feet of trunk space, which is less than what many other vehicles in the class provide. That's only enough room for a weekend's worth of luggage or a couple of golf bags.

The hatchback provides a much more robust total of 20.2 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up, and that expands to over 47 cubic feet of space if you fold the seats down. As hatchbacks go, those totals are about average, but you'll have more than enough space for your vacation luggage, and that's also enough room to toss larger items, like your mountain bike, in the back.

Intuitive Infotainment System

The Mazda3's dashboard has a simple layout that makes it easy to find the controls you need. There are plenty of standard features, and smartphone users will enjoy the infotainment system.

Bluetooth provides an easy way to link your smartphone to the Mazda Connect infotainment system. The user-friendly Mazda Connect makes it easy to play smartphone apps like Pandora through the car’s infotainment system, and it’s also able to read your text messages aloud.

Mazda Connect provides two options for controlling the car's audio and navigation functions; you can rely on the touch screen, or you can use the multifunction knob located on the center console. This has long been a feature of luxury cars like Audi and BMW.

Options, Trims, and Pricing

The Mazda3 comes in five trims, all of which are available in sedan and hatchback body styles. The base i Sport sedan starts just under $18,000, which is below average for the class. Regardless of trim, the hatchback model will cost you an extra $700 over the sedan, and you'll have to pay another $1,050 if you want the automatic transmission instead of the standard manual.

Mazda bundles several options into one of two packages. The Appearance Package features some exterior styling upgrades and carries a price tag of $1,700. The Preferred Equipment Package goes for $1,000 and includes alloy wheels, heated door mirrors, rain sensing windshield wipers, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. Rear parking sensors can also be added for $495.

If you want some of the higher-end interior features like leather upholstery, heated front seats, automatic climate control, navigation, and the Bose audio system, you'll have to choose at least the i Grand Touring trim, which starts around $22,500 and includes the aforementioned features.

To take full advantage of the Mazda3's performance abilities, you'll need the larger four-cylinder engine, which is only offered on the s Grand Touring and s Touring trims. Both trims start just under $25,000, which is still less than the highest priced trims of many class rivals. It should be noted that the s Touring is not available with the manual transmission.

Read more about interior »

Safety and Reliability Summary

The Mazda3 scores highly on crash tests, earning a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It was also named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

In addition to scoring well on crash tests, the Mazda3 comes standard with a rearview camera and offers plenty of other driver-assistance features. Frequent highway drivers will appreciate adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts your cruising speed if the car in front of you slows down. And blind spot monitoring provides an easy way for you to make sure there's room whenever you want to change lanes.

The Mazda3 has available features that will come in handy driving around town as well. A rear cross traffic alert will warn you if something crosses behind your vehicle, and forward collision alert lets you know if you're about to hit something. There's also Mazda's Smart City Brake Support, which can automatically apply the brakes at low speeds if an obstacle is detected.

The 2016 Mazda3 has average projected reliability ratings for the class, according to J.D. Power, and it comes with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about safety »

 Other Cars to Consider

The Volkswagen Golf's base engine provides a bit more power than the Mazda3's. While the Mazda3 gets better fuel economy estimates, the Golf's estimates are still respectable for the class. Like the Mazda3, the Golf’s nimble handling makes it fun to drive. The Golf's seats are very comfortable and remain so over long journeys. What really sets the VW Golf apart in this class is its large cargo space – larger than almost every other car in the class. In addition, the Golf's low liftover height makes it easy to load heavy items.

The Kia Forte has one of the nicest cabins in the class thanks to its top-notch materials, especially in upper trims. Compared with other cars in the class, the Forte comes equipped with a good amount of standard features, including Bluetooth and satellite radio. The Kia Forte is also one of the most affordable cars in the class; it’s a couple thousand dollars less than the Mazda3's starting price. In terms of cargo capacity, the Forte is the clear winner, as it offers more space than the Mazda3 in both sedan and hatchback body styles. Additionally, unlike the Mazda3, the Forte has roomy back seats.

Compare the Mazda3, Golf, and Forte in more detail »

Details: 2016 Mazda3

The 2016 Mazda3 is available as a sedan or a hatchback, and both body styles seat five. It is available in five trims: i Sport, i Touring, i Grand Touring, s Touring, and s Grand Touring. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trims.

Mazda3 i trims feature a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Mazda3 s trims come with a more powerful 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Both engines come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, but a six-speed automatic is available.

The Mazda3 was redesigned for the 2014 model year and has seen only minor changes since. As a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2014 through 2016 model years.

Standard features in the Mazda3 are cruise control, a rearview camera, push-button start, a USB port, Bluetooth, a six-speaker sound system, HD Radio, a system that reads text messages aloud, smartphone app integration (with Pandora internet radio), and the Mazda Connect infotainment system. The Mazda3 can be equipped with navigation, a moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a nine-speaker Bose sound system, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support system, which can automatically apply the brakes at low speeds if you are about to hit an object or person.

See 2016 Mazda3 specs and trims »

  • "Anyone who thinks a compact car can't be stylish, fuel-efficient, value-oriented, technologically advanced and a hoot to drive hasn't met the Mazda3. Mazda's small sedan and hatchback are all those things and more." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Purposeful styling, fuel-efficient engines and an ideal ride and handling balance keep the 2015 Mazda 3 among our favorites in the compact car class." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "… the new Mazda3 sedan makes a compelling case for best-in-class honors." -- Left Lane News (2015)

Research Prices: 2016 Mazda Mazda3

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