2018 Mazda3 New Car Test Drive
The Mazda3 is an extremely popular front-wheel-drive compact hatchback and sedan, for good reasons. It has standout styling, superb driving dynamics, and terrific value.
Mazda3 got a bunch of improvements for the 2017 model year. For 2018, there are few changes. Automatic emergency braking becomes standard equipment on the 2018 Mazda3.
Mazda3 competes with the Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic and Ford Focus, and we think it's the most fun.
Called Smart City Brake, Mazda's automatic emergency braking system can prevent a collision at speeds up to 12 miles per hour. There's an optional system called Smart Brake that can stop the car at higher speeds. More available safety equipment for 2018 includes active lane control and automatic headlights.
The base engine that comes in the Mazda3 Sport model is a 2.0-liter four cylinder making 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. Mazda3 Touring and Grand Touring models get a 2.5-liter making 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet. The engines are mated to either a 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission that makes the most of the power.
Fuel mileage for both engines is outstanding, rated by the EPA at 28/37 miles per gallon City/Highway, or 32 mpg Combined for the 2.0-liter engine with automatic, and, more impressively, about the same for the 2.5-liter. Both engines have high compression ratios, but don't require premium gasoline like many other small cars with high-compression engines, Subaru to name one. That's another impressive and important thing, often overlooked when it comes to value.
The Mazda3 was named Top Safety Pick Plus by the IIHS. All-wheel drive is not available on the Mazda3, or most compacts (Subaru being the main exception in the class).
The 2018 Mazda3 comes as sedan or hatchback in Sport ($17,845), Touring ($20,045), and Grand Touring ($22,545) models.
The Sport is well equipped with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, rearview camera, Bluetooth, keyless ignition, steering-wheel audio controls, internet radio, 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, and 16-inch wheels.
Touring and Grand Touring models get the more powerful engine and more features.