Disclaimer: Mazda hooked us up with this little gem for the 4 days we were in Southern California for the 2017 D23 Expo. All opinions are our own.
We were originally going to drive an SUV (more like the vehicle we’d purchase for our family of five) but I was certainly happy to test this sweet little car – a finalist for World Car of the Year. Mazda is always looking for feedback from real moms and dads, and goodness knows not everyone wants to drive a three-row giant!
The car small in stature but not in features. A premium safety package on the model we drove included lane departure warning system, lane keep assist, radar cruise control, and traffic sign recognition. This was all super useful on crowded LA highways, so I can only imagine how much more it could contribute to our safety in somewhere much less congested and busy!
The Mazda CONNECT infotainment system’s touchscreen display made it easy to connect our phones via bluetooth, get around town with the navigation system, and watch where we were going in the rear-view camera. We also tested out the USB audio input, which both charged our phones and allowed us to play music from them.
It gets 35 highway miles per gallon, and starts at $17,845. (The model I drove has an MSRP of $29,080.) I think I’d have to spring for heated seats and a heated steering wheel if I were going to drive it back in Ohio, but I certainly didn’t miss them in the Southern California sunshine!
The hatchback provided plenty of trunk space, which was perfect for our luggage – and would be even better for grocery hauls. Admittedly, this means the back seat would only be idea for either short distances or short legs. Two (or perhaps 3 very small) kids would sit comfortably in the rear seat, but it wouldn’t provide much leg room for adults – even short ones like me.
One of the most important things I assess when driving a car is how it feels (and sounds) to drive. I want something that feels smooth, but not at the expense of pickup and power. The Mazda 3 was a pleasure to drive, and remarkably quiet compared to many compacts I’ve tested in the past. It’s a great option for single drivers, couples, or young families just looking for their first sedan.