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Redesigned Mazda 3 remains quality compact vehicle

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Although the Mazda 3 has been a longtime favorite among its many owners, the folks at Mazda were intent on refining this compact vehicle with a 2014 redesign.

While making some definite changes, the Mazda designers also wanted to maintain the 3's core strengths - fun driving capability, cost, mileage, and choice of sedan or hatchback style. As a result, the 2014 Mazda 3 has more overall appeal and is not just a vehicle for youthful 20-somethings any longer.

Below are the major changes for the Mazda 3, the top-selling model in the Mazda lineup,

  • Features lightweight chassis used by the CX-5 and midsize Mazda 6 sedan
  • Wheelbase is 2.4 inches longer than the previous model
  • Wider, shorter, lower and nearly 100 pounds lighter than its predecessor
  • More aggressive grille design - the "smiling Nemo face" is gone
  • Interior design features improved materials, new touchscreen and electronics interface.
  • Standard blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alerts
  • Optional 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine overhauled, and now offers stronger power and increased fuel economy

The third generation Mazda 3 continues to provide a nice blend of performance and proficiency. And that makes for a fun car to drive, whether it's the six-speed manual transmission or the optional six-speed automatic.

The standard Mazda 3 engine is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that produces 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. The 3 has been clocked at 8.3 seconds going from 0-60-mph. Gas mileage is an impressive 30-41 mpg.

2014 Mazda 3

  • Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 155 horsepower; 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 184 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 30-41 mpg; 28-39 mpg
  • Estimated price: $16,945 to $26,495
  • Warranty: 3years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 3 years/36,000; corrosion: 5years/unlimited

Car buyers that put a high premium on performance should consider the upgraded 2.5-liter engine, a four-cylinder with 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Note that this engine only comes with six-speed automatic transmission (there is no manual transmission). Gas mileage is still strong at 28-39 mpg.

One of the Mazda 3's core strengths has always been its ability for delivering strong driving characteristics. Mazda says the 3 is now more refined, thanks to a new chassis and suspension that has made for better handling, steering and responsiveness. The new safety features are an added bonus for a driver's piece of mind.

The Mazda 3 cabin also has made considerable strides with the redesign. It now features a more intuitive dashboard, where the controls are not only easy to master but also easy to access. The touchscreen display is larger, but it's also located on the top of the dashboard, which is a little odd.

Although a compact sedan, the Mazda 3 still provides solid room and comfort for front seat occupants, and can accommodate 6-footers in the back seats, where the head room has been improved. A downside is the 3 still has quite a bit of hard plastic.

The Mazda 3 trunk space is average at 12.4 cubic feet in the sedan. Yet there's a more generous 20.2 cubic feet in the hatchback, which can expand to 47.1 cubic feet when the back seat is folded down.

The newly refined Mazda 3 will continue to draw attention in a class that features some big-time competition in the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, and Kia Forte. The Mazda 3 continues to deliver a fun ride, affordability, performance and good gas mileage.

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Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.



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