2006 Mazda Mazda3

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$13,710

starting MSRP

2006 Mazda Mazda3

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

7 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2006 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
  • New s Grand Touring model

2006 Mazda Mazda3 review: Our expert's take

By

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

They don’t get the attention — or the sales — of comparable models from Toyota and Honda, but don’t overlook the Mazda3 and its bigger brother, the Mazda6. Both cars offer genuinely good value and, when outfitted in their sportier trim, serve up a fun-to-drive factor that rivals German cars.

Case in point: The 2006 Mazda3 s. Though the engine and transmission aren’t quite as refined as the new Honda Civic Si — which, incidentally, only comes as a two-door coupe — the Mazda3 s sedan is at least as much fun to drive, and it has four doors. Its 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine has 160 horsepower, 37 fewer than the Civic Si’s 2.0-liter engine, but the difference doesn’t feel that big, likely due in part to the Mazda’s 11 extra foot-pounds of torque.

The Mazda3 comes as a regular four-door sedan, such as the test car, or as a four-door hatchback. The base Mazda3 i has a 2.0-liter, 150-horsepower four-cylinder, while the sportier Mazda3 s has a 2.3-liter engine. The hatchback model gets only the 2.3.

Base price of the test car, a Touring model, was $17,615, and that buys a lot of standard equipment, such as side and side-curtain air bags, P205/50R-17 radials on alloy wheels, an AM/FM stereo with CD player and six speakers, cruise control, disc brakes with anti-lock, keyless entry, air conditioning and power locks, mirrors and windows. Options were a power sunroof and a six-disc CD changer, offered as a $890 package. With shipping, the total was $19,065. That’s with the five-speed manual transmission; a five-speed automatic adds $950. Mileage with the five-speed manual is an EPA-rated 26 mpg in the city, 32 on the highway.

Inside, the instruments are nicely placed, but I’m not a fan of the sound-system layout, which revolves around a huge on-off/volume button. The front cloth-covered bucket seats are pretty comfortable, and the gearshift lever is in just the right place. The Mazda3 s feels very familiar, very quickly. Rear-seat room is about average for a car this size, as is trunk space. One complaint: On the second speed, the fan for the air conditioning is loud. On the fourth and highest speed, you’ll reach for the stereo volume button. Maybe that’s why it’s so prominent.

The Mazda3 s is certainly happy in the city, and it gives a very good ride on the highway, even on rough pavement. It’s most in its element, though, on winding roads, where you can give the independent suspension a workout. Handling is excellent, much more neutral than most front-wheel-drive cars.

The Mazda3 went on sale in December 2003, as a 2004 model, and as the replacement for the Protege. It still looks and feels fresh but has been around long enough for buyers to expect a discount, making an appealing car even more so.

– – –

Sentinel Automotive Editor Steven Cole Smithcan be reached at scsmith@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5699.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.3
  • Interior design 4.4
  • Performance 4.5
  • Value for the money 4.6
  • Exterior styling 4.6
  • Reliability 4.5

Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

You can trust Mazda, mine is at 250,000 miles!

This car has been so reliable! I bought it used 7 years old, with 116,000 miles on it. I needed a good deal but did NOT want an ugly car. After looking at other cars Mazda was the only one for me. For its price range it is definitely the best looking car!! I bought the sport model and although it was the lowest featured package the exterior made up for it. 7 years later it now has nearly 250,000 miles on it, still runs like a charm, I drove it rough and was not easy on it lol. Keeping the car as an extra vehicle, but now going to buy a 2016 Mazda 6, grand touring, I just can’t get over how nice the Mazda’s look, and after driving my Mazda 3 for so long, I’m staying loyal to the Mazda brand I can trust! I’d recommend Mazda to anyone wanting a sedan!

4.9

I don't want to sell this car... it's my 2nd love

Really great handling, fun to drive, awesome turning radius, fantastic sound system, large cargo space, did I mention the word FUN??? Long Live Mazda...Zoom Zoom

4.6

13+ years! Still loving it!

This car has been great to my family! Purchased new in 2006 and have yet to do any major repairs other than the clutch! I’ve put 196,000 miles and I still haven’t changed any of the belts!

See all 88 consumer reviews

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