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2019 Mazda3 Sedan Drivers' Notes Review | Moving on up

The new Mazda3 is better and more refined than ever

2019 Mazda3
2019 Mazda3 / Image Credit: Mazda
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  • Engine
    2.5L I4
  • Power
    186 HP / 186 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Auto
  • Drivetrain
    Front-Wheel Drie
  • Engine Placement
  • Curb Weight
    3,071 LBS
  • Seating
  • Cargo
    13.2 CU-FT
  • MPG
    27 City / 36 Highway
  • Warranty
    36 Month / 36,000 Miles
  • As Tested Price
The Mazda3 enters its fourth iteration for 2019, replacing one of our favorite compacts on the market. As such, expectations were high for the new model. Like before, the Mazda3 is available as both a sedan and hatchback, though the big news for the new model is the available all-wheel drive system, a rarity for the class and and a feature more and more people are looking for in a car these days. At launch, power comes solely from a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-four, though Mazda plans to offer additional powertrains down the line. Competitors include the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Subaru Impreza, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte.

Our tester was a well-equipped Mazda3 Premium front-wheel-drive sedan. Standard features include 18-inch wheels, LED lighting, a power driver's seat, leather seating and trim, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate control, an 8.8-inch infotainment system, Bose audio, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control. The only added cost to the Premium Package is $595 for the paint. All in, our tester came out to $27,990.

Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: The Mazda3 is the sportiest in the segment and, as far as I'm concerned, it's dead-even with the Honda Civic for the top spot in the looks department. The steering, brakes and suspension all feel dialed-in and quick. Many compacts are sedate. The 3 makes you want to track it. The suspension is stiff enough that non-enthusiasts might prefer something else, though it's not abusive. The naturally aspirated four provides just enough getup. Mazda is good at the minimalistic approach. Tune a car well, make it look sporty, and don't try to overcompensate with horsepower.

This thing looks great inside and out. For the price, you can't beat it. The cabin has the appearance and feel of a premium sedan, with pleasing materials and an enveloping cockpit. With a creased hood and huge, blacked-out grille, the 3's front end has a contemporary style with old-school panache. I might like the hatch better because it's a rarer body style. Still, this sedan is a well-rounded, sporty execution and a great value.
Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale:
Since its reveal at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2019 Mazda3 has been my most anticipated car of the year, as well as the one I've been most worried about. The Mazda3 has been really good the past few years, and the new one looks better than ever. But with a torsion beam in the back, fewer manual transmission options and basically no more power, I was worried.

I was also wrong. It's amazing. Our tester was a top-level Premium trim, and the interior is on par with many luxury brands. The dashboard is elegant and minimalist, and it's wrapped in soft stitched leather. The same leather continues around on the doors, and it's joined by nice metallic accents. The instrument panel is flanked by air vents to create a driver-centric feel, and all the buttons and knobs feel high quality. The driving position is great, too, and there's more space up front than in the previous model.

What really brings it home is the way it drives, though. The handling is superb, with a steering wheel that is precise, well-weighted and delivers on a good amount of road feel. The car has lots of grip and feels neutral in corners. It's very buttoned down and never feels skittish over bumps, something I feared with the switch to a torsion beam suspension. The ride is firm, but it's very smooth and well damped, lending a European luxury feel. The engine is powerful enough, and the automatic is smart and smooth, but I still really hope Mazda offers the turbo engine with a manual transmission in the near future. Even if it doesn't, the new Mazda3 is a fantastic little car.

Assistant Editor Zac Palmer: The 2019 Mazda3 not only remains a dynamic wonder, I think there's true mass appeal to this little sedan beyond folks who just want a small car that isn't a penalty box to drive.

I had high expectations going in. The black and white leather combination is gorgeous to step into. The shapes and lines are simple, and there's a distinct minimalist effort while still keeping all the functional buttons you might want right in front of you on the dash (cough, Model 3). All the air vents are shrunk down and blended seamlessly into structures that already exist. Nothing looks particularly out of place, and the ergonomics are spot on — Mazda got the driving position right with a low seat, adjustable center armrest and proper angles everywhere. The only area of the interior where I'm slightly disappointed is the piano black trim surrounding the gear shift. That's going to attract dust immediately, and may never look clean over years of ownership.
I'm impressed by the amount of civility the Mazda 3 showed in normal driving, too. Mazdas are typically a little louder on the inside, with more engine and tire noise leaking into the cabin than some of the competition. I was fine with this before, because that means less unneeded weight in sound deadening and insulation. This Mazda 3 changes the game by adding in a new two-wall body structure and better sound absorption from the headliner and carpeting. The concerted effort has paid off, because the in-car experience is far more serene and peaceful than before. This plays into Mazda's move of taking the compact upscale, and there's nothing half-baked about it.

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