A combination of performance, fuel economy, and value have made the Mazda3 one of the most compelling vehicles in the compact class. A redesign for 2017 ups the refinement, but at what expense?

Pricing and Equipment

Prices for the Mazda3 start at $18,680 (including $835 in destination charges) for the base Sport four-door sedan equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and can escalate to over $31,000 for a fully-optioned-and-accessorized Grand Touring hatchback equipped with the six-speed automatic. Most buyers will likely choose the hatchback in mid-level Touring trim equipped with an automatic transmission, a starting price of $23,120, and standard features that include:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Rearview camera
  • Bluetooth audio and phone capability
  • 7-inch color touchscreen infotainment
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Auto on/off headlights
  • Leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob

All trim levels come with a standard rearview camera. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is optional on the base Sport model (as part of a $1,000 Preferred Equipment Package) and, along with low speed automatic emergency braking, is standard on all other trims. Mazda's most advanced safety features, including automatic high beams, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and automatic emergency braking, are an option and only available on the top-level Grand Touring models.

The 2017 Mazda3 is available with two engines. Sport and Touring models use a 155 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder with either a slick six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Grand Touring models (and one version of the Touring hatchback) get a 184 horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the same choice of a manual or automatic transmission.

Performance Pros

Mazda Mazda3
  • Both engines, in addition to offering good performance, are very fuel efficient.
  • The new engine management system (called G-Vectoring Control) controls torque to the front wheels and improves straight-line stability.
  • The conventional six-speed automatic shifts almost as well quickly and smoothly as a dual-clutch system.
  • Enthusiasts will gravitate towards the extremely enjoyable six-speed manual. The clutch is easy to modulate and the shifter's action and short throws are delightfully smooth.

Performance Cons

  • Power in the base 2.0-liter engine doesn't come on strongly until around 4,000 rpm, which is on the high side (although it's not unusual for a smaller, non-turbocharged four-cylinder).
  • The new full-electric power steering system isn't as good as the combination electric and hydraulic system on the last-generation car – especially on oddly crowned roads.
  • The G-Vectoring Control system can sometimes work a little too aggressively, especially during high-speed cornering when it can feel like the brakes are being applied to the rear wheels.

Interior Pros

  • The interior is quieter, thanks to added sound insulation.
  • The comfortable, supportive front seats are among the best in the compact class.
  • The dashboard layout and trim is better than average for the segment.
  • The contrasting Parchment perforated-leather interior of the Grand Touring model gives the Mazda3 a luxury-level look.

Interior Cons

Mazda Mazda3
  • The lower-quality headliner and hard plastic rear door trim are disappointments in an otherwise lovely cabin.
  • Mazda's infotainment system has gotten more complicated, not simpler, over the years. Not only is it distracting, it's neither Android Auto nor Apple CarPlay compatible.
  • Rear seat leg room is tight for the compact class.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

It's the small things that count: on the Mazda3, it's the "organ style" accelerator pedal that's hinged at the bottom, which Mazda believes, and we concur, feels more comfortable. This is a common feature in German luxury cars, but it's rarer in this class.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

The well-controlled ride is on the firm side and definitely not plush. While some will find it entertaining, it can get busy over rough pavement and can be tiring on long trips.

The Bottom Line

The Mazda3's advanced safety features are only available on the Grand Touring model, while some of the interior trim looks low-rent. That's not new for 2017. But a stunning exterior, quick, agile handling, and a pair entertaining, fuel efficient, four-cylinder engines are still enough for the updated Mazda3 to remain a top choice in the compact segment.