2013 Mazda Mazda3 Expert Review

4.0 Overall Score
Performance 4.8 Comfort 3.5 Styling 3.9 Value 3.5

Editor's Overview

The 2013 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback stand out for their fun-to-drive nature, high fuel economy and overall value. It may not be as well-known as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, but the Mazda3's more dynamic driving manners and strong resale value make it a smart choice among compact cars.

You'll Like The 2013 Mazda Mazda3 If...

If you want a compact sedan or hatchback that's both fun to drive and fuel-efficient, the 2013 Mazda3 makes an excellent choice. Strong resale value means it's a good bet in the long run, too.

You May Not Like The 2013 Mazda Mazda3 If...

If all-wheel drive is a requirement in your next compact car, consider a Subaru Impreza or a Mitsubishi Lancer with that option. Those seeking comfort over sportiness should look at the Chevrolet Cruze, while those who seek a long warranty will want to consider a Hyundai Elantra or Kia Forte.

What's New

After receiving the new Skyactiv engine and a freshened face the year before, the 2013 Mazda3 carries over mostly unchanged. The i Sport model now comes with the Skyactiv engine, and the Sky Mica blue exterior color has been dropped.

Interior Features

The 2013 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback feature a similar interior that's easy on the eyes and very ergonomic. Buttons and knobs on the dash and steering wheel are laid out well and within easy reach. Appreciative touches include ambient blue lighting and, on higher trims, push-button start/stop. The Mazda3's front seats are comfortable even in cloth form, and feel even better when outfitted with leather. The rear seats, meanwhile, can feel cramped for taller adults. The sedan's trunk is on the small side, though the rear seats fold for added space. Mazda3 hatchbacks have more cargo room and added versatility. Up front, the available navigation display is on the small side and sits not in the middle of the dash, but at the top, where it can be difficult to see directions.

Exterior Features

Among the most noticeable features on the 2013 Mazda3 is its front fascia, which to some can resemble a big grin. Whether that's a trait you like will be a matter of personal taste. That design element notwithstanding, the Mazda3 sedan plays it relatively safe but retains handsome lines. The Mazda3 hatchback shares some traits with the slightly larger 2013 Mazda CX-5 SUV. MazdaSpeed3 versions are distinguished by a bulging hood scoop and revised front fascia. Like Mazda3 sedans and hatchbacks with the 2.5-liter engine, the MazdaSpeed3 has dual exhaust outlets, adding to its sporty looks. Wheels range in size from 16 inches to 18 inches.

Driving Impressions

In sedan or hatchback form, the Mazda3 is a nimble car that offers decent-to-good acceleration depending on which engine is under the hood. The base 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in i SV models is adequate for getting the car up to speed, while the larger, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder in s Grand Touring models makes for a surprisingly quick vehicle. In the middle is the new Skyactiv 4-cylinder, which boasts zippy performance and commendable fuel economy. All 2013 Mazda3 models feel agile for this class of car, making them more fun to drive on twisty roads than rivals like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra. Then there is the MazdaSpeed3 hatchback, a devil of a car with blistering acceleration and tenacious road grip. Unfortunately, since the MazdaSpeed3 is a front-wheel-drive car, the engine's tremendous power results in considerable torque steer under full acceleration. If you choose a 2013 Mazdaspeed3, be prepared to do your own shifting and get ready for a stiff ride.

Pricing Notes

A base 2013 Mazda3 sedan with manual transmission has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $17,495, with an automatic transmission an extra $850. The lowest-priced Mazda3 with the new, more efficient Skyactiv engine is the i Sport model, starting at $19,170. The top sedan is the s Grand Touring, which starts just over $25,000 and offers a lot for the money. Mazda3 5-door models begin at $20,795, while the 2013 MazdaSpeed3 is priced just under $25,000. The 2013 Mazda3's starting price is higher than base versions of the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Kia Forte and Mitsubishi Lancer, and nearly the same as the Volkswagen Jetta, Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Sentra. The Mazda3's base price is lower than that of the Subaru Impreza. The MazdaSpeed3's price is in line with base versions of the Volkswagen GTI and Ford Focus ST, and less than the Subaru WRX. Be sure to check the KBB Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are actually paying for the 2013 Mazda3. In the long term, the Mazda3's resale value is expected to hold up very well, near the top of this class.

Notable Equipment

The 2013 Mazda3 sedan is available in five trim levels, while the 5-door hatchback can be had in three. The MazdaSpeed3 hatch comes in just one. A base sedan in the i SV trim is relatively well-equipped with tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and 6-way adjustable driver's seat for a good fit, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, and a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD system with auxiliary input. At the other end of the Mazda3 spectrum are the Grand Touring models, which are packed with the blind-spot-monitoring system, navigation system, power front seats, leather interior, Bluetooth, and an upgraded audio system with a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system with HD Radio.

Notable Options

Options for the MazdaSpeed3 vary by trim. Among them are a spoiler and auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink remote garage control in lower trims and a moonroof and premium sound system in mid-level models. A tech package in the i Grand Touring model adds self-leveling bi-xenon headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Except for the MazdaSpeed3, an automatic transmission is available in all trims.

Favorite Features

This sophisticated engine is both fuel-efficient and powerful enough to make the Mazda3 feel zippier than expected. When connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission, it's rated at 40 mpg on the highway.

It's unusual to find this safety feature on a compact car, but it's standard on Grand Touring models of the 2013 Mazda3 sedan and hatch. The system warns of a potential collision by illuminating an icon in the side mirrors and by emitting an audible warning.

Under the Hood

Several engine and transmission choices are available in the 2013 Mazda3 lineup. The base i SV sedan is now the only one to use the 148-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that has powered past Mazda3 vehicles. The i SV is linked to a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. Using the new 2.0-liter Skyactiv engine that makes 155 horsepower are the i Sport, i Touring and i Grand Touring models, which can all be had with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The Mazda3 s Grand Touring uses a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that makes 167 horsepower for even livelier acceleration, and uses a 6-speed manual or 5-speed auto transmission. Then there is the speed demon in the lineup, the MazdaSpeed3 hatchback, which uses a 2.3-liter turbo-4 that cranks out 263 horsepower – and a whopping 280 lb-ft of torque – and is available only with a 6-speed manual transmission. All Mazda3s are front-wheel drive.

2.0-liter inline-4
148 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
135 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg (manual), 24/33 mpg (automatic)

2.0-liter Skyactiv inline-4
155 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
148 ft-lb of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/39 mpg (manual sedan), 28/40 mpg (automatic, sedan), 27/38 mpg (manual, 5-door), 28/39 mpg (automatic, 5-door)

2.5-liter inline-4
167 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
168 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg (manual), 22/29 mpg (automatic)

2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4
263 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg

Editors' Notes

The 2013 Mazda3 is a compact car with a lot of soul. Available as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, the Mazda3 stands out for its fun-to-drive nature, value and fuel economy. The last got a big boost with the recent introduction of Mazda's Skyactiv engine technology, which enables this car to attain up to 40 mpg while not sacrificing its lively driving manners. Two other engine choices remain available, one offering less power and the lowest price, the other more power and additional features in the model's top trim. Then there is the hatchback-only MazdaSpeed3, an apt name if there ever was one. The 2013 MazdaSpeed3 boasts a high-power turbocharged engine and a stiff suspension that's more at home at the track than in daily traffic.

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