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Mazda3 ranks among best compact cars


Roseville, CA- A single test drive in the Mazda3 might convince folks who say they don't care for compact vehicles to reconsider. This is a good automobile for a variety of reasons, most notably its blend of performance and efficiency.

Of course, we left out one other significant positive trait - appearance. Regardless of the model - hatchback or sedan - the 2017 Mazda3 has an attractive look and its driving acumen is even better. The Mazda3 is both enjoyable to drive and fuel efficient.

The compact class has a number of "stars" and the Mazda3 has been one of them for a while. It shares the spotlight with some other notables, like the Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, and Toyota Corolla.

The popular Mazda3 receives a variety of updates for 2017, including restyled front and rear fascias, new steering wheel, more standard features, revised dashboard design and electronic parking brake, which allows for more room in the center console area.

2017 Mazda3

* Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 155 horsepower; 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 184 horsepower
* Mileage estimate: 28-37 mpg; 27-36 mpg   
* Estimated price: $19,970 to $25,820
* Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance

When shopping for an economy car, price is one of the primary considerations, along with fuel economy, reliability and value. The Mazda3, which starts at just under $20,000, delivers all three and more as well.

If you enjoy shifting gears in the manual transmission, you will love the Mazda3 because it really adds fun to the driving experience. There's a fun factor to the automatic transmission as well.

The responsive Mazda3 performance is quite evident in the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder that produces 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. The engine is quick, smooth and delivers good acceleration. The base model comes with a 2.0-liter, inline-4 with 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. It's not as quick as the larger engine, going from 0-60 mph in 8.3 seconds.

Several years ago, the Japanese auto manufacturer wanted to provide better gas mileage and succeeded with its "Skyactiv" powertrain. The mileage is practically identical in both Mazda3 models, ranging from 27-37 mpg.

The Mazda3 also receives solid marks for the way it performs on the road. The engaging compact accelerates quickly and handles with good precision when navigating tight turns, and gives the driver a high level of confidence.

Considering all the upside, one might think the Mazda3 could get by with an average interior design. But it has a well-designed cockpit that is better than most compacts. It features an in-dash, 7-inch touch-screen monitor that is controlled by a center console knob. Although everything is within reach for whoever is handling the touch-screen monitor, I found the audio system setup more confusing than it needs to be.

The front seats provide good support, comfort and adequate head and leg room for a compact car. The rear seats are not as gracious with space, especially leg room, but two adults can still ride in the Mazda3 with a level of comfort. The sedan has 12.4 cubic-feet of space in the trunk, while the hatchback is 20.2 cubic-feet. When folded down, the space enlarges to just over 47.1 cubic-feet.

The Mazda3 continues to reside near the top among compact car rankings. Nothing has changed for 2017. The Mazda3 remains a great buy for multiple reasons.

About Weidel on Wheels

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

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