For 2018 the Mazda3 receives minor but significant updates. The 2.0-liter engine is no longer available in the Touring trim level. Touring models are now powered by the 2.5-liter also used in the Grand Touring. Also, Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support system is now standard on the Sport model.
This is one of the best interiors in this class. The Mazda3’s cabin is warm and refined, with an upscale, expensive look and feel. All models feature a large 7-inch screen on the dash. It looks like a tablet, but it’s not a touch screen. Infotainment functions, like audio, phone, apps and navigation, are controlled by an easy-to- operate rotary knob on the console between the front seats, just like some luxury brands. Seat comfort is high. Rear-seat legroom is a bit tight, but there’s room for two average-size adults, three in a pinch. All models have a 60/40-split-folding rear seat.
Mazda’s have always been fun to drive, but they haven’t always been beautiful. Today Mazda has righted that ship and its designs are some of the best. The 2018 Mazda3 is a looker, with athletic proportions, a large aggressive grille and the right combination of muscular, wind-shaped curves and sharp lines. The sexy Mazda3 sedan resembles the brand’s larger Mazda6, and its 5-door hatchback will win over those who don’t think a hatchback can be beautiful. For added aggression, Mazda offers the optional Appearance Package, which blacks out the Mazda3’s front spoiler, side sills, rear diffuser and mirrors.
Thanks to Mazda’s innovative Skyactiv powertrain and chassis design, the 2018 Mazda3 is both fun to drive and fuel-efficient. You’ll have to rev the engine high to get the most from its limited power, but the Mazda3’s precise steering, finely honed suspension and strong brakes assure a good time once up to speed. Unlike the VW GTI or Ford Focus ST, the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback don’t sacrifice a smooth, comfortable ride at the altar of great handling. The Mazda3 soaks up road irregularities well, even with the 18-inch wheels and tires of the top trim levels and it cruises well on the highway. The 6-speed manual is one of the best in the industry and is matched in efficiency and fun by the 6-speed automatic with manual mode. The Touring and Grand Touring’s 2.5-liter engine offers a bit more power with only a few miles-per-gallon sacrifice at the pump.
Last year we placed the Mazda3 on our 10 Coolest Cars for Under $18,000 list. The 2018 Mazda3 Sport compact sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $19,000, while the Mazda3 Sport hatchback starts just over $20,000. These starting prices are higher than a base Toyota Corolla and Kia Forte, but remain in line with the Honda Civic. The 2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring sedan pushes the price to about $25,000, with the 5-door adding another $750 to the bottom line. A fully loaded Grand Touring will come up just shy of the $30,000 mark. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Mazda3. We predict the Mazda3 will hold its value well in coming years, but not quite match that of the Subaru Impreza, Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.
Standard features on the 2018 Mazda3 Sport include electronic parking brake, the Mazda Connect infotainment system with 7-inch screen, 6-speaker audio with USB input, Bluetooth and audio streaming, rearview camera, push-button start, cruise control and Smart City Brake Support, which will brake for you in an emergency situation under 19 mph. If you go one trim higher, the Mazda3 Touring adds features such as blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver’s seat, and heated front seats. Grand Touring models bring a power sunroof, Bose audio, head-up display and perforated leather upholstery.
Under the Hood
The 2018 Mazda3 offers two engine choices, both with a Skyactiv pedigree. The Sport uses a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes a healthy 155 horsepower. The 2.5-liter found in the Touring and top-tier Grand Touring variants, cranks out 184 horsepower. While the 2.0-liter is a capable performer, it trades a measure of enthusiasm for better fuel economy -- 37-mpg highway and 28-mpg city with the 6-speed automatic transmission, which costs $1,050. The 2.5-liter won’t stretch a gallon of gasoline quite as far, but it’s close and notably amps up the car’s sporting character. Both engines are smooth, vivacious and they like to rev. Manual-transmission lovers will appreciate that Mazda offers an excellent 6-speed manual in both body styles, and with both engines. All Mazda3 models are front-wheel drive.
155 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
150 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/37 mpg (manual), 28/37 mpg (automatic)
184 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
185 lb-ft of torque @ 3,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
Sedan: 25/34 mpg (manual), 27/36 mpg (automatic)
Hatchback: 25/33 mpg (manual), 26/35 mpg (automatic)
Playful and sophisticated, the 2018 Mazda3 is a fuel-efficient compact that’s one of the most fun-to-drive cars in its class. Available as a stylish 4-door sedan or a versatile 5-door hatchback, the new Mazda3 offers impressive standard features, many tech-based active safety systems and a refined interior. Three trim levels are available, Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Sport models are powered by a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, while the Touring and Grand Touring get a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that produces 184 horsepower. A 6-speed manual is standard but a far more popular 6-speed automatic transmission is available. Some of the Mazda’s rivals in the crowded compact segment are the Honda Civic, VW Golf and Jetta, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze and Subaru Impreza.