2005 Mazda Mazda3

Change year or car

Change year or car

$13,680

starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Stylish appearance (especially the hatchback)
  • Steering and handling
  • Driving ease
  • Front occupant space

The bad:

  • Instrument readability
  • Backseat space
  • Engine noise on hard acceleration
  • Seat comfort

3 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

  • i

    $13,680

  • s

    $16,615

  • sp

    $18,685

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2005 Mazda Mazda3 trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • 2.0- or 2.3-liter four-cylinder
  • Manual or automatic
  • Sedan or hatchback
  • Sporty Mazda styling and personality

2005 Mazda Mazda3 review: Our expert's take

By

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

I betcha two months ago — heck, two weeks ago — most people didn’t list fuel economy as a top concern in a new vehicle.

One well-placed hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico and the damage done to oil refineries has changed all that.

Suddenly, it’s 1973. Locking gas caps, lines to get gas, topping off the tank, people leaving without paying for gas, it’s definitely enough of a sense of deja vu.

But thankfully, this isn’t 1973, at least when it comes to driving a fuel-efficient small car.

My favorite?

The Mazda3, available in four-door and five-door configurations, in two trim levels.

There’s the ”i” trim level, which comes only in four-door configuration and a 2-liter double-overhead-cam four-cylinder making 148 horses.

Jump up to the ”s” and you get a choice of four or five doors, and a standard 160-horsepower 2.3-liter mill.

Both engines mate to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic that can be shifted manually.

For 2005, Mazda has introduced the SP23, which takes the ”s” four-door and transforms it into a mini-luxury car, at a price just over 24 grand.

The car’s luxuriously sporty interior is intoxicating.

The seats and steering wheel are trimmed in leather. The audio system? Bose, with seven speakers and a six-CD in-dash changer. There’s a pollen filter in the climate control system, as well as heated front seats.

Options included an easy-to-use navigation system, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, a power moonroof, side-impact airbags, high-intensity headlamps, tire-pressure monitoring system and a security system.

But the ultimate luxury was the car itself, whose fine handling and sporty manners make this a great little four-door sedan. The motor has plenty of power, while returning decent mileage.

Unfortunately, my heavy foot prevented me from achieving the EPA estimates, but this Mazda3 is just so much fun on your favorite country road, it’s hard to resist.

The feeling is enhanced by the car’s sturdy-feeling structure, excellent brakes in addition to its rev-happy engine.

The front seats were very firm, but proved supportive in corners. A driver’s seat height adjustment, lumbar support and a tilt-telescopic steering wheel make finding a comfortable driving position easy.

Front seat legroom is ample, but rear-seat room isn’t as generous. Under-seat foot room is good, however.

Ride is small-car firm, but never uncomfortable, thanks to the car’s relatively long wheelbase. It’s a pretty quiet car as well. Only the car’s aggressive engine note spoils the solitude.

The noise that was welcome emanated from the stereo. The Bose system was quite good, and Sirius satellite radio is available as an option.

The navigation system is a large screen that rotates up from the top of the dashboard and is quite intuitive to use. Thankfully, it can be closed, so as not to be a distraction.

Trunk space seems larger than its rating suggests. If optimum cargo room is needed, opt for the five-door.

The only real complaint that could be leveled against this great little car is the electroluminescent gauges, lit in red, which are hard to read in the daytime.

That’s a quibble, as the Mazda3 SP23 outguns most of its rivals with ample power, inspired handling and lots of luxury features for an affordable price.

It’s enough to make the Mazda3 No. 1 in anyone’s book.

Even mine.

– – –

lprintz@mcall.com

610-820-6713

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.5
  • Interior design 4.5
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value for the money 4.7
  • Exterior styling 4.6
  • Reliability 4.7

Most recent consumer reviews

4.7

Mazda: Built to Last! 190,412 Miles!

2005 Mazda3 Hatchback. A+ Safety. Protect loved ones. FUN TO DRIVE: Automanual Transmission! Solid Engine! The vehicle has always and only known TopTier Regular Gasoline. Given the regular gasoline as specified by Mazda USA, but most importantly only the gasoline from those responsible suppliers as listed on TopTierGas.com, having the engine cleaning detergents. Definitely extends the life of the vehicle.

4.6

I love it

It is the best car I love it the only reason I am getting rid of it is I Need A newer car for my job but it is pretty good I. the snow it’s got new tires and just had the oil changed

4.9

It’s a fine little car(hatchback)

I thought this car was just a little hatchback with not a lot of power. But it’s really fun to drive and it has a lot of power for a little car.

See all 55 consumer reviews

Compare the competitors

2007

Pontiac Vibe

$16,760

starting MSRP

2007

Chevrolet Cobalt

$13,175

starting MSRP

2003

Toyota Matrix

$14,670

starting MSRP

See all 2005 Mazda Mazda3 articles