2014 Mazda Mazda3 Expert Review

4.2 Overall Score
Performance 4.5 Comfort 3.7 Styling 4.6 Value 3.9

Editor's Overview

First Mazda3 to incorporate the automaker’s complete suite of efficiency-enhancing Skyactiv design technologies, this stellar compact is all new for 2014. Offered in sedan and 5-door hatchback configurations, it matches sophisticated exterior and interior design with excellent fuel economy and offers several new class-exclusive active safety systems.

You'll Like The 2014 Mazda Mazda3 If...

Its 3rd-generation remake has given the Mazda3 a far more engaging personality that encompasses both its visual and functional elements. The new Mazda3 drives as great as it looks, and introduces new technology and safety features not found in any of its current class rivals.

You May Not Like The 2014 Mazda Mazda3 If...

Some buyers may not be ready to fully embrace the Mazda3’s new sense of style, while those wanting a compact with maximum interior volume – particularly in the rear-seat area – will likely be happier with one of its competitors like the Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla or Volkswagen Jetta.

What's New

Beyond the 2.0-liter engine in Mazda3 i models, every other meaningful component has been redesigned for 2014. That remake brings better in-car connectivity plus numerous innovative “class-above” touches, highlighted by an available head-up display, Mazda’s econo-enhancing i-Eloop system, adaptive Radar Cruise Control, and low-speed Smart City Brake Support.

Interior Features

While total passenger volume stays roughly the same, additional shoulder room makes the Mazda3’s cabin feel more accommodating, particularly up front. In addition to better materials, improved fits/finishes and more user-friendly control layouts, the redesign sees the first use of Mazda’s new "Human-Machine Interface" philosophy. Fully implemented in upline models with the head-up Active Driving Display and high-mounted touch screen, even the base Mazda3 i variants have audio switchgear positioned closer to the driver’s line of sight to help minimize distraction. Rear legroom still falls on the low side of class average, but there’s still room for a pair of average-size adults.

Exterior Features

Smart styling on the 2014 Mazda3 brings a new level of elegance to the appearance and proportions of both the sedan and hatchback variants, while helping improve their overall aerodynamics. The recast grille replaces the previous “happy face” with a more distinguished character, and repositioned A-pillars improve the driver’s forward sightlines. While the base SV and 3 i Sport Sedan come with 16-inch steel wheels, all of the other 2.0-liter cars feature same-sized alloy alternatives that move to an 18-inch upfit on the 2.5-liter 3 s models. The 3 s variants also boast self-leveling bi-xenon headlights and LED-enhanced front and rear lighting elements.

Driving Impressions

With 2.4 inches of additional wheelbase, wider track dimensions, a stiffer body and a new Skyactiv chassis design, the 2014 Mazda3 feels even smoother and more confident than its predecessor – as well as most of its key rivals. Ride control/compliance, steering feedback and brake response have all been enhanced in ways that see this new Mazda rivaling the Focus for best-in-class dynamic status. And more driver-centered control layouts, better seats, improved cabin isolation and outstanding forward visibility minimize fatigue factors while maximizing driving enjoyment – especially on top-line Mazda3 s versions with the head-up display and touch-screen infotainment system. Enthusiasts will prefer the extra kick of the 184-horsepower 2.5-liter engine, but the even-more-fuel-efficient 155-horsepower base 2.0-liter is quite capable, if a bit less exhilarating.

Pricing Notes

While not the lowest-cost player in this intensely price-sensitive segment – that honor goes to the 2014 Kia Forte – the 2014 Mazda3 lineup still reflects solid value when you factor in both the content and character of its overall package. The well-equipped i SV Sedan starts under $17,750 and the entry-level 3 i Sport Hatchback starts below $19,750 while at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Mazda3 s Grand Touring Sedan and Hatchback ring in closer to $26,600 and $27,100, respectively. However, adding the Technology Package that brings class-exclusive safety features and the i-Eloop system does bump those numbers by an additional $1,600. KBB.com has yet to establish residual values for the 2014 Mazda3, but based on current figures, this Mazda compact is likely to retain a slightly better percentage of its original selling price than the Cruze or Focus but less than the Civic, Forte and Corolla.

Notable Equipment

The features roster expands as you move through the Sport/Touring/Grand Touring hierarchy, but even the sedan-only Mazda3 i SV comes with numerous power assists, air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering column, push-button start, and a full complement of safety items. At the volume-leading i Touring level, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert join the lineup, while all Grand Touring variants feature touch-screen navigation with a 7.0-inch display, Bose audio, dual-zone climate control, and more. All 3 s models add bi-xenon headlights, shifter paddles and the head-up Active Driving Display, while 3 s Grand Touring variants get leather upholstery, corner-following Adaptive front lighting, and more.

Notable Options

Optional equipment on the Mazda3 is modest and trim-dependent. A power moonroof is available on the 3 i Touring, while both the 3 i Touring and 3 s Grand Touring offer their own Technology Packages. The former brings 3 s standards like navigation, Bose audio, a color touch screen and the Commander multi-function controller to the mix while the latter adds Mazda’s new mileage-maxing i-Eloop regenerative engine-braking system, auto high-beam control, a lane-departure warning system, and two segment-exclusive features – Radar Cruise Control & Forward Obstruction Warning and Smart City Brake Support that helps prevent or mitigate potential low-speed impacts.

Favorite Features

ACTIVE DRIVING DISPLAY

Standard on all 2014 Mazda3 s models, this class-exclusive, auto-deploying head-up screen sits atop of the main instrument cluster and provides quick, virtual line-of-sight access to pertinent information like vehicle speed and turn-by-turn navigation directions.


i-ELOOP (INTELLIGENT ENERGY LOOP) SYSTEM

Included in the s Grand Touring Technology Package, i-Eloop can improve real-world fuel economy up to five percent. It uses a special alternator that converts kinetic energy normally lost during deceleration into electricity which gets stored in a capacitor that seamlessly metes it out to various vehicle systems as needed.

Under the Hood

The new 2014 Mazda3 offers two engine choices, both with a Skyactiv pedigree. All i models share the familiar 155-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 used in the 2013 Mazda3. The 2.5-liter found in all s variants cranks out 184 horsepower, as it does in the 2014 Mazda6 and CX-5. While the 2.0-liter is still a capable performer, it trades a measure of enthusiasm for better fuel economy numbers – 41 mpg highway in the sedan and 40 mpg in the hatch with either the 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The automatic-only 2.5-liter won’t stretch a gallon of gasoline quite that far, but notably amps up the car’s sporting character.


2.0-liter inline-4

155 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

150 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy:

Sedan: 29/41 mpg (manual), 30/41 mpg (automatic)

Hatchback: 29/40 mpg (manual), 30/40 mpg (automatic)


2.5-liter inline-4

184 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm

185 lb-ft of torque @ 3,250 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy:

Sedan: 28/39 mpg (automatic), 29/40 mpg (automatic w/i-Eloop)

Hatchback: 28/37 mpg (automatic), 29/39 mpg (automatic w/i-Eloop)

Editors' Notes

The best-selling model in the entire Mazda lineup, the compact Mazda3 is all new for 2014 and now incorporates the full suite of Mazda’s efficiency-enhancing Skyactiv technologies as well as the automaker’s latest Kodo styling language. This comprehensive makeover elevates the car to an entirely new level of sophistication and a place on our list of the 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000 for 2014. The stylish sedan now shares much visual DNA with the larger Mazda6 while the Mazda3 hatchback puts a sportier spin on that refined appearance in an even more practical 5-door configuration. Multiple trim grades, two fuel-efficient engine choices and several class-exclusive convenience and safety features make the Mazda3 an even more enticing alternative to rivals like the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, and Toyota Corolla.

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Owner Reviews

4.45

167 Reviews

53% 40% 7% 1% 1 star 0%

Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

High-quality small sedan with modern features.

I have had my car, second-hand, for about ten months. It has performed consistently well. Unlike my old car which used to seize up in the cold. It warms up very quickly and has dual zone heat/air. The computer keeps track of tire pressure so I can use my mini air compressor to get a tire back up to the right psi before it goes flat. It also has pop-up reminders for maintenance. There is a Bluetooth feature to sync with my phone which is great for answering calls hands-free and playing Pandora through the sound system for longer trips, but this is actually the feature most likely to give me issues. I would much rather it be the phone sync than something actually important.

- Amanda S

Great safety features. Bluetooth, blind spot notifier, seatbelt warning.

I absolutely love the safety features that are included in my Mazda 3. There is a blind spot feature that is available on both side mirrors. If you are making a lane change while another vehicle is present that you cannot see in the lane, a blinking icon will begin to beep as soon as you turn your blinker on. There is also a seatbelt warning to remind you to buckle up. I also love the Bluetooth feature. I can make a call without having to even pick up my phone. There is a button you can press, and simply say out loud who you would like to call. It has definitely reduced my chances of getting into accidents.

- Elizabeth B

Why I love my white Mazda 3.

I love my car. It has great acceleration and very comfortable seats. I have not had any mechanical issues with my car at all. I take it for regular oil changes and tire rotations. There was an issue with the sunroof but that was covered by the warranty. My car is at the top of the trim level and came with heated seats, Bose speaker system, sporty wheels and the sunroof that I had to have. I also requested it to be a manual transmission because I enjoy the acceleration it provides and because I drive over 30,000 miles per year it makes the drive more fun when I have to shift gears.

- Karen L