Key Specs

of the 2017 Mazda Mazda3 base trim shown

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Steering and handling
  • Acceleration with 2.5-liter engine
  • Well-equipped base model
  • Front-seat comfort
  • Smooth-shifting manual transmission
  • Crash-test ratings

The Bad

  • Busy ride
  • Modest backseat
  • Small trunk in sedan
  • No Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
  • Gets expensive with options
  • So-so gas mileage
2017 Mazda Mazda3 exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2017 Mazda Mazda3

  • Refreshed styling for 2017
  • Updated cabin with more storage areas
  • 2.0- or 2.5-liter four-cylinder
  • Manual or automatic transmission
  • Offered as a sedan or hatchback
  • Standard 7-inch multimedia screen

2017 Mazda Mazda3 Road Test

https://www.cstatic-images.com/stock/64x64/14/-74959434-1425053042814.jpg
Kelsey Mays
The Verdict:

The Mazda3 remains a dream car for driving enthusiasts who want an affordable compact, but a few drawbacks blunt its appeal among practical-minded shoppers.

Versus The Competition:

Refined drivetrains and expert handling still distinguish the Mazda3, but rivals have larger backseats and plusher ride quality in an increasingly family-friendly field.

Mazda updated its compact mainstay for 2017 with a few styling tweaks, some interior upgrades and more noise insulation. As before, the Mazda3 comes as a sedan or hatchback with a choice of two engines, each with a manual or automatic transmission. We tested a manual Mazda3 Grand Touring, the highest of three trim levels (Sport, Touring and Grand Touring). Compare them here, or stack up the 2016 and 2017 Mazda 3 here.

Exterior & Styling

Mazda's updates for 2017 are subtle, including reshaped foglight portals, new grille framework that blends into the headlights, and an updated rear bumper on the hatchback. Blink and you'll miss them, but that's for the better. This is the fourth year of the Mazda 3's third generation, and the automaker did well not to tinker too much. The design still hits a sweet spot between refinement and aggressiveness. It's aged as well as the Mazda 3's first generation — and better than the smiling-grille car between the two.

How It Drives

The Mazda 3's optional 184-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder moves the sedan from a stop with gratifying lb-ft of torque and smooth, even revving. There's adequate passing power even with four adults aboard, and the swift throttle response makes for quick rev-matched downshifts. Mazda also offers a 155-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that's adequate in its own right, and the six-speed manual that's available with both engines has short throws and clean gates. In a...

Mazda updated its compact mainstay for 2017 with a few styling tweaks, some interior upgrades and more noise insulation. As before, the Mazda3 comes as a sedan or hatchback with a choice of two engines, each with a manual or automatic transmission. We tested a manual Mazda3 Grand Touring, the highest of three trim levels (Sport, Touring and Grand Touring). Compare them here, or stack up the 2016 and 2017 Mazda 3 here.

Exterior & Styling

Mazda's updates for 2017 are subtle, including reshaped foglight portals, new grille framework that blends into the headlights, and an updated rear bumper on the hatchback. Blink and you'll miss them, but that's for the better. This is the fourth year of the Mazda 3's third generation, and the automaker did well not to tinker too much. The design still hits a sweet spot between refinement and aggressiveness. It's aged as well as the Mazda 3's first generation — and better than the smiling-grille car between the two.

How It Drives

The Mazda 3's optional 184-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder moves the sedan from a stop with gratifying lb-ft of torque and smooth, even revving. There's adequate passing power even with four adults aboard, and the swift throttle response makes for quick rev-matched downshifts. Mazda also offers a 155-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that's adequate in its own right, and the six-speed manual that's available with both engines has short throws and clean gates. In an age where manual shifters in compact cars are usually rubbery afterthoughts meant only for a base trim level, it's nice that Mazda stuck with a good stick — and offers it even in top trims.

A six-speed automatic transmission is optional. We've driven it in the current generation; it kicks down smoothly but has tall lower gears, an area where the larger engine's extra 35 lb-ft of torque adds welcome oomph. Among run-of-the-mill compacts, it's worth noting that the Chevrolet Cruz, Honda Civic and Volkswagen Jetta offer smaller engines with turbochargers, and the results push the acceleration envelope. The Cruz, for one, feels quicker than any flavor of Mazda3, and most versions get better gas mileage to boot. Consider appropriately.



Handling remains a strong suit, with minimal body roll, quick-ratio steering and limited understeer. Still, many competitors ride better than the Mazda 3. The suspension tackles potholes well enough but makes for a busy highway ride even over relatively good roads. Expect plenty of turbulence on long road trips, with soupy, wander-prone steering at high speeds that never quite settles in. It's a wearisome trait that some might deem a deal-breaker.

EPA-estimated combined mileage for the Mazda 3 with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and manual transmission is 29 mpg for the sedan, 28 mpg for the hatchback. The smaller engine and automatic-equipped transmission max out as high as 32 mpg. Those are average figures for the class; if fuel economy is paramount to you, the Honda Civic sedan's 36 mpg beats all comers.

Interior

The Mazda3's straightforward cabin adds a few more storage areas for 2017, plus an electronic parking brake to replace the mechanical one (perhaps to the chagrin of some enthusiasts). There's also some attractive stitched trim flanking the center console. Cabin materials are competitive overall, with a plusher grade of leather in our test car than is typical in the class. (Cloth upholstery is standard; vinyl and leather are options.) Still, you don't have to look far to see ill-fitting trim pieces or mismatched materials, and the low-budget headliner needs an upgrade. Some competitors — the Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra GT come to mind — are a step ahead.



Mazda redesigned the steering wheel for 2017; a heated rim is now optional. Still, the optional power driver's seat has limited sliding range, and it lacks a cushion-tilt adjustment — a curious omission given the previous-generation Mazda3 had one. The backseat has decent headroom, but long-legged adults might find their knees uncomfortably elevated or digging into the front seatbacks (or both). If you need a bigger backseat, try other compact sedans, like the Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra sedan or Volkswagen Jetta.

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Ergonomics & Electronics

As affordable compact cars go, the Mazda3 has an exceptional list of standard infotainment features. Among them are a multimedia system with a 7-inch display, a backup camera, HD radio, two USB ports and various internet radio apps, including Pandora, Stitcher and Aha. The Mazda 3 system works through a touchscreen (when stationary) or a knob controller on the center console. Bose premium audio is optional, but Mazda does not offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a feature available in several competitors.

Cargo & Storage

Mazda tripled the size of the door pockets, which were tiny before, and added some open storage ahead of the gearshift by ditching the available CD player. Both are welcome improvements, but the sedan's trunk still measures only a smallish 12.4 cubic feet. The hatchback has 20.2 cubic feet of space, 47.1 cubic feet with the seats folded. That's a more competitive figure versus other compact hatchbacks, though not directly comparable to the sedan's 12.4 cubic feet because trunks are measured differently from hatches.

Safety

Both the hatchback and sedan Mazda 3 notched top scores for crashworthiness and available crash-prevention technology performance from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, putting the Mazda3 ahead of most of its class. Crash-prevention options include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, plus blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning systems — the latter with steering assist.

Value in Its Class

The Mazda3's $18,680 starting dealer price is a bit steep for this class, but it comes well-equipped, particularly with multimedia. Climb the trim levels and you can get leather, a power driver's seat, keyless access, rain-sensing wipers, Bose audio, adaptive cruise control and heated front seats and steering wheel. A loaded Mazda3 5-door Grand Touring hatchback will set you back about $30,000. That's also at the high end of the class, so expect some sticker shock if you want the extra features.

The Mazda3 is still a driver's car, and compact-car shoppers who value practicality over fun-to-drive options should look elsewhere. But the drawbacks are reasonable for those who sign up, and the payoff remains strong.


Latest 2017 Mazda3 Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.6)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Fantastic car

by Zoom-Zoom from Baltimore, MD on April 28, 2018

I wanted to downsize from my SUV. The Mazda3 is a great car with quality workmanship, excellent gas mileage, fun to drive, and many features that make it a very safe and reliable vehicle. Read full review

(5.0)

Perforomance and Comfort, all in one !

by Tonymdj from EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. on April 25, 2018

The Mazda 3 Grand Touring is fast, comfy, sport suspension, and a killer Bose system. With the navigation system, there's nothing left to put in it. My wife loves the heated seats, and the trunk is ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2017 Mazda Mazda3 currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2017 Mazda Mazda3 Sport

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Child Seat Anchors (Latch)

Ease of Use
acceptable

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
acceptable
Overall Evaluation
good
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
good
Structure and Safety Cage
good
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Mazda

Program Benefits

At Mazda, everything we do is designed, engineered, tested and retested to make driving better. And our Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are no exception. Each one comes with the confidence to greet every turn, on- ramp and green light with the same driving enthusiasm Mazda owners know so well.

  • Limited Warranty

    1 year / 12,000 miles

    Each Mazda Certified Pre-Owned vehicle comes with a 12-Month/12,000- Mile Additional Limited Warranty with no deductible on covered components, which begins when the factory warranty ends. If it's out of warranty, the 12-Month/12,000-Mile Limited Warranty begins on the certified retail date.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a Mazda quality inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

Change Year or Vehicle

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Mazda3 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Latch or Latch system

B

Infant seat

C

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

B

Booster

(second row)

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker