Overview

Overview

The 2013 Mazda Mazda3 is a compact car that seems to top the list of most reviewers and owners as one of the best in class. It comes available is several versions, including a sedan, hatchback and a diesel option that isn't quite perfected yet. One thing is for certain, this sporty little machine is a load of fun to drive. This means it could be that first-time driver's greatest dream or worst nightmare.

Though it is touted as a sports-car enthusiast's wonder, it maintains surprisingly stable road manners. It is still in its second generation of production, receiving an update and adding the SkyActiv powertrain in 2012. The more you look into it, the more you will find that the 2013 Mazda Mazda3 is built more for performance and pleasure than it is for economy and practicality.

Expert Reviews

"The Mazda 3 has traditionally been considered somewhat of a connoisseurs' choice among compact sedans. With its agile handling, responsive engines and generous features list, the 3 is the compact car that we editors at Edmunds.com not only most frequently recommend to others, but also have, in some cases, purchased for our families." (Edmunds)

"It's little wonder why the Mazda3 is the brand's best-selling car. It boasts a stable ride, solid cabin appointments, a versatile hatchback body style, and a fun-to-drive character unmatched by most like-priced rivals of any size." (Consumer Guide)

"The pleasant, practical, fun-to-drive Mazda3 is one of the better small cars available. Its 2.0-liter SkyActiv engine delivers smooth and ample performance, and got an impressive 32 mpg overall in our testing. The punchy 2.5-liter is more powerful, but only got 25 mpg overall. Handling is precise and responsive, and the ride is firm, yet fairly comfortable." (Consumer Reports)

It seems clear across the board that the Mazda3 is a top choice among expert reviewers. "Available as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, the Mazda3 stands out for its fun-to-drive nature, value and fuel economy." (Kelley Blue Book) Positives listed among reviewers are the supreme handling, peppy acceleration, and fuel economy. Negatives are a lack of cargo space, bland interior, and a drop in fuel efficiency for the larger engine.

Owner Reviews

"I've had many cars and many makes and overall, this is my favorite car ever! It handles extremely well! I've had it for 5k miles now and I'm averaging 28 MPG and that's pretty darn good for how zippy it is. The 10 speaker Bose / 6 disc mp3 player was well worth it. It handles corners like it's attached to a guide or something. My only slight disappointment is....Nothing!" (Owner review from California owner, KBB)

"[I] traded in a more expensive Volkswagen CC for this car and no regrets. [It is] so much fun to drive, driving performance and handling very close to that of a BMW. The seats are very high quality and comfortable on long trips unlike some other cars in its class. The installed exhaust is of good quality and nice and throaty when you step on it." (Owner review from Michael in Pennsylvania, KBB)

All this positivity doesn't mean there aren't a few bumps in the road. "The car is a lot of fun to drive, but not fun to maintain. Factory tires lasted 16,000 miles and the touring tires I got to replace them will need to be replaced soon after only 21,000 miles. If the tires aren't rotated every 3000 miles, the life is even shorter. Every time the tires are rotated the car needs to be realigned. I'm also on my fourth serpentine belt. Every six months or so it sounds like a family of birds is living under my hood." (Owner review from Pennsylvania owner, KBB)

Lineup

The 2013 Mazda3 is offered in several trim levels, but the basic format is either the 3i or the 3s setup. Each one has its own sublevels, variations, and available features; suffice to say that you can pretty much build one to suit whatever your needs. The lowest trims for the sedan are the 3i SV and Sport models. They come equipped with power accessories, air conditioning, and a four-speaker sound system with CD player.

Moving up to the Sport model will garner the SkyActiv-G engine, keyless entry, cruise control, and USB audio input for the radio. A Touring model of the 3i will add keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone climate control, a rear-seat center armrest, Bluetooth, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, and a six-speaker sound system.

You can climb the ladder of options on the Mazda3 all the way up to technological features like adaptive automatic bi-xenon headlights, foglights, LED taillights, a rear spoiler, sports seats, an upgraded braking system, Pandora audio streaming, and a navigation system with 5.8-inch color touchscreen and voice controls.

Interior

If there is an Achilles heel to the 2013 Mazda3 it is the interior. Materials quality is average but has not kept up with the advancements of competitors. It's clear from the cockpit design that Mazda was going for that "pilot" feel. Controls are all well-lit and easy to read. The dashboard features a dual-eye display with the speedometer and rpm gauges being the predominant modicums of info. Steering wheel controls are well-placed and don't interfere with the driver.

If you're looking for something on the roomier side of the compact segment, you'll probably have better luck elsewhere. Taller drivers may take issue with the amount of headroom; those same folk will want to stay out of the back seat altogether. Cargo capacity tops out at a whopping 11.8 cubic feet for the sedan (note the heavy sarcasm). If you're looking for a little extra space, go with the hatchback. It offers a max of 17 cubic feet.

The seats in the Mazda3 are shaped for comfort but don't quite offer as much as they boast. Still, they do make you feel secure when that grabby handling throws you into a turn. The navigation system offers a slightly larger screen this year but that's about as far as the bells and whistles go on it. The real highlight is the focus on driving excitement with the red and blue nighttime ambient lighting. It will force people to want to drive the Mazda3 when the sun goes down.

Performance

This is the category the Mazda3 was built for. It's powered by the consumer's choice of two four-cylinder engines. The first, a 2.0L that produces 148 horsepower and 135 ft.-lbs. of torque, is available on all lower models, though moving up a bit to the SkyActiv version of this engine will add some horsepower. The second is a 2.5L that harnesses the power of 167 horses and 168 ft.-lbs. of torque. Either one can be coupled to either a five-speed manual transmission (standard) or a five-speed automatic (optional).

On the road the Mazda3 delivers everything it claims to offer. Handling doesn't quite match Porsche 911 standards, but it will definitely turn some heads. Acceleration is ample from either engine and gives the necessary boost right when needed. The droning noise of the engine is not well-subdued, however, and adds to that racecar feel.

Transmission shifts from the automatic tranny are quick and light. The manual shifts smooth as well, though the clutch throw is a little long for some drivers. Though it is peppy, the Mazda3 doesn't seem comfortable at higher speeds. It seems happier winding through twisting corners and tearing off the line than it does cruising down the highway.

Safety & Reliability

The 2013 Mazda3 was given four out of five stars in government crash tests. It earned five stars in frontal protection but only three stars in side-crash protection. Basically, don't get broad-sided in this one; the outcome won't be pretty. The Mazda3's safety equipment list includes antilock disc brakes, brake assist, stability and traction control, as well as front and side-curtain airbags. The Touring trims add a blind-spot warning system.

J.D. Power & Associates ranks the 2012 Mazda3 with four out of a possible five points in reliability based on the past few years' models. Most of the issues being reported involved issues with the steering or suspension systems. This is not surprising considering the way most drivers will work those systems on this mean little demon. MSRP on the 2013 Mazda3 ranges from $16,700 at the low end, up to $24,350 for the Grand Touring model. The hatchback version starts at $20,000.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Hatchback - FWD
i Touring 5dr HB Man i Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 20000
i Touring 5dr HB Auto i Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 20850
i Grand Touring 5dr HB Man i Grand Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 23300
i Grand Touring 5dr HB Auto i Grand Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 24150
s Grand Touring 5dr HB Man s Grand Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 24850
s Grand Touring 5dr HB Auto s Grand Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 25650
Mazdaspeed3 Touring 5dr HB Man Mazdaspeed3 Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 24200
Sedan - FWD
i SV 4dr Sedan Man i SV 4 Cylinder FWD 16700
i SV 4dr Sedan Auto i SV 4 Cylinder FWD 17550
i Sport 4dr Sedan Man i Sport 4 Cylinder FWD 18375
i Sport 4dr Sedan Auto i Sport 4 Cylinder FWD 19225
i Touring 4dr Sedan Man i Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 19500
i Touring 4dr Sedan Auto i Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 20350
i Grand Touring 4dr Sedan Man i Grand Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 22800
i Grand Touring 4dr Sedan Auto i Grand Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 23650
s Grand Touring 4dr Sedan Man s Grand Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 24350
s Grand Touring 4dr Sedan Auto s Grand Touring 4 Cylinder FWD 25150

Comparison of 2013 Mazda MAZDA3 with Similar Cars

2013 Mazda MAZDA3 MSRP Invoice
2013 Mazda Mazda3 $16,700 $16,229
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2013 Toyota Corolla $16,230 $15,338 2013 Mazda Mazda3 VS 2013 Toyota Corolla
2013 Nissan Sentra $15,990 $15,423 2013 Mazda Mazda3 VS 2013 Nissan Sentra
2013 Hyundai Elantra $16,695 $16,208 2013 Mazda Mazda3 VS 2013 Hyundai Elantra
2013 Ford Focus $16,200 $15,269 2013 Mazda Mazda3 VS 2013 Ford Focus
2013 Chevrolet Cruze $17,130 $16,530 2013 Mazda Mazda3 VS 2013 Chevrolet Cruze

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2013 Mazda MAZDA3 ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2013 Mazda MAZDA3 rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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