The Mazda3 is perennially one of the top offerings in the compact car class. It’s fun to drive with its zippy handling and has an attractive and upscale cabin, all at a competitive price. The only negatives are not as much rear seat space and cargo space as some rivals.
Base Price: $33,100
As Tested: $34,710
Mileage: 23 mpg city/32 mpg highway/27 mpg combined
For 2022, a new trim, Carbon Edition, is added with a gray metallic exterior and red leather seating. Otherwise, the 2022 Mazda3 is much the same as the 2021 model.
The five-passenger Mazda3 is available as a sedan or hatchback and comes in eight trims: 2.0 (only available as a sedan), 2.5 S, Select, Preferred, Carbon Edition, Premium, 2.5 Turbo, and 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus. Starting prices are $20,800 for the 2.0 sedan and $22,750 for the 2.5S Hatchback. These are a little above average for the class. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available, which is still a rarity for the class. And if you want a manual transmission, you can get it on the Premium hatchback.
Three engines are available and all provide enough pep for “zoom zoom” driving. The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. This engine is only found on the 2.0 sedan. Most trims come standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 186 hp and 186 pound-feet. The two top trims come with a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder that cranks out 227 horses and 310 pound-feet with regular gasoline, or 250 horses and 320 pound-feet with premium gas. Each engine is paired with a six-speed automatic, or a six-speed manual transmission is available on the front-wheel-drive Premium hatchback.
Every time I get behind the wheel of a Mazda3, I’m reminded just how much fun they are to drive. My tester has the turbo 2.5-liter engine. Acceleration is brisk from a stop and also when merging and passing at freeway speeds. The Mazda3 stays planted when cornering, and steering and brakes are responsive. The six-speed automatic is always ready to up- or downshift as necessary. With sporty performance, you often get a firmer ride, but the Mazda3 is smooth and comfortable, even over rough roads.
Fuel efficiency is about average for a compact car. EPA ratings for my AWD tester are 23 mpg city and 32 mpg highway with a combined rating of 27. I got 27 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The cabin is stylish with an upscale look and feel. Fit and finish are quite nice with the use of many soft-touch materials. Front seats are comfortable and roomy; however, the back seat is tight for adults with limited leg- and headroom. It’s ok for kids.
Standard features include remote keyless entry, push-button start, rearview camera, cloth upholstery, seven-inch cluster display, infotainment system with 8.8-inch display, eight-speaker audio system, HD Radio, voice command, Bluetooth, two USB ports, 12-volt power outlet, automatic high-beam headlights, and rain-sensing windshield wipers
Available features include a surround-view camera system, head-up display, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic or real leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, satellite radio, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, adaptive headlights, and a moonroof.
Standard driver assistance technologies include forward automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, and driver attention monitoring.
Available driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, traffic jam assist (maintains distance, speed, acceleration, steering, and braking at slow speeds), and traffic sign recognition
The infotainment system does not have a touchscreen; rather it’s controlled with a rotary knob located between the two front seats. The system becomes easy to use with practice. Graphics are simple with menus logically laid out. Controls and buttons are easy to see and reach, and the system responds quickly to commands. Unfortunately, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are not standard on the base 2.0 trim but are available on the 2.5 S and above trims.
Cargo space in the sedan is below average for a compact car. There are 13.2 cubic feet of trunk space. The hatchback does better with 20.1 cubes. The rear seats fold 60/40 in both body styles, providing flexibility in hauling larger items.
Enthusiastic driving dynamics
Fun to drive
Attractive, upscale cabin
User-friendly infotainment system
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on all trims except 2.0
Tight back seat, especially for adults
Not as much cargo space as rivals
My tester starts at $33,100. Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint is $595. Delivery fee is $1,015 bringing the grand total to $34,710.
If you’re shopping for a compact car, the 2022 Mazda Mazda3 should be on your list. End of story. The only exception would be if you need a lot of space for passengers and cargo. Otherwise, the Mazda3 delivers peppy performance and an attractive, upscale cabin and is a top contender in the class.