2018 Mazda Mazda3 Expert Review

4.4 Overall Score
Performance 4.5 Comfort 4.2 Styling 4.5 Value 4.3

Editor's Overview

Intensely attractive, playful and sophisticated, the 2018 Mazda3 is a fuel-efficient compact that’s universally considered to be one of the most refined and fun-to-drive cars in its class. Available as a stylish 4-door sedan or a versatile 5-door hatchback, the new Mazda3 offers an impressive list of standard features, many tech-based active safety systems and a bewitchingly finished interior.

You'll Like The 2018 Mazda Mazda3 If...

If you want more than four wheels and a steering wheel. If you want to like your car. If you want to want your car. If you want to feel something when you drive your car. If you believe life is too short to drive an ugly car you’ll like the 2018 Mazda3.

You May Not Like The 2018 Mazda Mazda3 If...

If you’re looking for all-wheel drive, check out Mazda’s CX-3 crossover SUV or shop Subaru’s Impreza. If have to have over 200 horsepower, the turbocharged VW GTI, Ford Focus ST and Honda Civic Si have the Mazda3 covered. The Civic also offers much more rear-seat legroom than the Mazda.

What's New

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.

Interior Features

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.

Exterior Features

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.

Driving Impressions

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.

Pricing Notes

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.

Notable Equipment

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.

Notable Options

The Sport sedan’s Preferred Equipment package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers and more. The Touring’s Popular Equipment package brings the Bose 9-speaker audio system, a rear spoiler, shark-fin antenna and a power sunroof. Touring and Grand Touring trims can be equipped with the iActivsense Safety suite, which adds a lane-departure warning system, lane-keep assist, active radar cruise control and high-beam headlight control, while the Grand Touring offers the Premium Equipment package that adds self-leveling LED headlights, adaptive front lighting, a heated steering wheel, paddle shifters and a navigation system.

Favorite Features


The Mazda3 may be Mazda’s smallest and least expensive model, but it has received the highest safety ratings for crash impact by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Mazda3 earned 5 Stars from NHTSA and a rating of Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS.


Many compacts are only available as 4-door sedans, but the sportier hatchback body style has made a recent resurgence in this class. The Mazda3 hatchback has one of the largest cargo volumes in the segment, 20.2 cubic feet of space behind the back seat and 47.1 cubic feet with the seats folded.

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.

2.0-liter inline-4

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)

2.5-liter inline-4

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)

Editors' Notes

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.

Road Test Video Reviews

2018 Mazda Mazda3 Owner Reviews

106 Reviews
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spare tire on my 2018 mazda3 is a danger to drive on

I am sure every one thinks its safe to drive on a mazda 3 spare tire . well here"s what happened to me on a sunday drive 46 miles from my home. on a freeway. I hit a pot hole on the free way .it trashed the tire . had to change the tire on a busy highway with cars speeding by me at 70mph.not much fun at all .I put the temp spare on the car .on the tire it said not to go over 45mph. if any one has ever tried to go 45 mph with cars passing at 70mph on a freeway its not fun at all people gave my the finger as they passed me layed on there horn as they passed me by .I had to go over the 45 mph down hill .I had to pull over 3 times to let the tire cool down .because it got hot .also try to find a tire store on sunday .not" I got off the freeway and got it home .after a 1 1/2 hour drive home I go to a tire dealer on Monday I find out that the tire mazda put on the car was not made any more because it had a lot of problems also mazda put a 185mph high bucks tire on a every day street car .why why ? well they found a replacement tire out of state it took 5 days to get it to me .that's five days I could not leave town .because of the spare tire being junk and over heating .the new tire is on the car now .I am going to the junk yard and buy a rim to put a new tire on so I never have to deal with this again .I all so am upset with mazda over putting junk tire on my mazda 3 that are not made any more I have only had the car 3 weeks .its brand new .I am going to a pick up truck that has a spare tire I am done with mazdas over the years I have had over 24 brand new mazdas there are other tings I don't like about the mazda 3 I only get 330 miles to a tank of gas my other mazda 3 with a 2.0 motor would go 500 miles on a tank of gas the 2.5 motor does not there are other things I don't like but that's a other story

- jack spencer

2018 Mazda 3 grand touring.

I have had no problems with my vehicle thus far, except for when I had to replace the windshield due to a crack. Due to the fact that the car's technology is rather new, the windshield was back-ordered for a few months. The city brake system as well as the smart brake function are a great touch. The car drives wonderfully and handles great in rain and snow. The interior is done nicely and the seats are comfortable. I enjoy the navigation system and like using the features the car has to offer. If you do not buy navigation with you car, you can buy the USB card on eBay for hundreds less and it works great! Also, there are many aftermarket car kits available that make it look quite stylish. The car is quite fast, faster than you might think. The turbo button definitely improves pick up speed and does not really drain gas. I fill up my tank once a week and it costs about $26. 00/tank. The gas mileage I get is outstanding! I love this car overall and am looking to buy my next one instead of lease.

- Lauren J

The Mazda 3 is great. Affordable car for anyone.

I purchased the car last year and it has been reliable so far. There have been no major or even minor issues with it so far. The interior is nice for a lower cost sedan. It does not look or feel cheap. The seats in the car are comfortable and you do not get sore, even after riding in the car for long periods of time. The infotainment is in my opinion really well done. You use a knob in the center console to control the screen. I think this is easier than cars where you have to touch the screen to change setting because it keeps your attention on the road. The trunk has plenty of space for most things and the seats fold down to make more room. The engine is surprisingly powerful for being a v-4. It is pretty quick to accelerate and it handles everything well. The car has a good suspension and handles corners and turns well.

- Lucas K

My Mazda3 is excellent on gas. I get about 35 miles to a gallon!

My Mazda 3 is awesome! It's loaded! I chose an electric blue color. It has leather seats, power windows, power seats, heated seats, heated steering wheel, and front and rear defrost. It has navigation, and I love that it has a sunroof! It has a flip plate that comes up that you can customize. I set it to show the actual speed limit and how fast I'm driving. When it's started up you can barely hear it's even on. It's push button start, which is so convenient. I leased my 2018 Mazda3 for 36 months, and I have just over 2000 miles on it. I've had zero problems with it thus far.

- Tina S

Sleek Modern Car for Less Than Expected

Mazda 3 is excellent on gas. The entertainment system is very modern and always up to date with what is new even in the most basic Mazda3. The leatherette seating is comfortable and very easy to clean, also gives the car a sleek look for half the price. I have never had any issues with this vehicle other than the center screen taking some time to turn on when left in the hot Arizona sun. I have leased 3 Mazdas so far and have no reason or desire to change when this lease is up.

- Ashley C

Gas efficient car, unique features.

It is a smooth riding car that is great on mileage. It has a unique touch screen feature that is enabled only when you are in park, and has a control panel below the gear shift for whenever you need to navigate the screen while driving. The controls on the steering wheel are easy to find when you want to set cruise control or skip a song on your music (if not on the radio). It is a very reliable car that will get you where you need to be.

- Meagan N

Mazda- one of the best brands hands down.

I really like the size and features of my car. It is compact and in an affordable price range, but comes with nice features for the price. Compared to other cars in a similar size (Civic, Corolla, etc. ) I like the overall look of my car and quality and features much better. My family has had Mazda's for several years now and we have absolutely no complaints about reliability, durability and overall satisfaction with the brand.

- Danielle S

Great mpg, safety, and value!

Excellent vehicle, great on gas mileage, smooth ride, quiet. Push button start, automatic, rear camera display. Wish I had upgraded to heads up display and apple carplay. Excellent Audio sound quality. USB is only a 1 volt, which does not charge the phone, not great for long drives. Hatchback model is great for active lifestyle. Not liking the hatch cover, does not allow for dog to be in the back. Great safety features.

- Amanda N

Quiet and smooth ride. Best gas mileage I have ever had on a vehicle!

The vehicle handles smoothly. Takes turns well and takes uneven roads well. Smooth and quiet ride. Has a lot of safety features. Provides maintenance warnings such as oil change, tire rotation, tire pressure gage. Fantastic gas mileage. I average 36 miles to gallon. I drive an even mix for highway and city miles. The only thing I have to complain about is little storage but it is a sport, so it is to be expected.

- Leslie M

Mazda’s are a great first car! Good in gas and beautiful design!

This car is great for long distance driving, but it can use a lot of gas at times. To fill up a tank, it only costs, $30. Which is reasonable! I love the look of the car. How sleek it is. I also love how it has multiple places to plug in your phone. The car connects to you phone, which is nice for making calls. The car has a large space in the trunk for groceries. The car drives very smoothly.

- Sarah M

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