Mazda3: This Mid-Size Sedan is Not too Much, Not too Little... it's Just Right
by Kristin Shaw
Happiness is a vacation with Mazda
My favorite time of the year, hands down, is summer in the Midwest. We pack up and visit with my parents for a month or so and enjoy the benefits of not existing on the surface of the sun (Texas). Most of the time, we fly into Chicago Midway airport and drive across highway 80 into Indiana. Planes, trains, automobiles… it’s all part of the journey.
A car, ever since I was old enough to drive, has meant freedom. Freedom to zip down the roads with the wind rushing past. Freedom to go where I wanted to go. Freedom to explore.
Now that I am a grown up (reportedly) and have a child, I value the opportunities to meander and conquer new places and show him the joys of the road. Over the summer, we made plans to drive from Illinois to Indiana to Michigan to Ohio and back to visit friends and family and experience summer the way I love it most: unstructured.
When we arrived in Chicago, we picked up a Mazda 3 Grand Touring at the airport and headed east. Mazda’s midsize sedan is a five-seater, and we found there was plenty of room in the truck for even my giant, overstuffed suitcase. Since my mother makes homemade English muffins on a regular basis, I knew I had to have a bag large enough to tote back to Texas a few dozen, at least.
The Mazda3 is billed as a “fuel-efficient compact car”, but it was still a wonderful surprise to me just how fuel-efficient it is. Even after driving two hours from Chicago, I still had more than half a tank of gas.
This vehicle is offered in three trims: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. Starting at $18,095 for the sport – the Grand Touring trim starts at $24,195 – the Mazda3 is eminently affordable.
Which trim should you choose?
Basically, if more zip is important to you, then choose the Grand Touring trim, which is the one I drove for a little over a month. At 184 horsepower, it’s on par with a Volkswagen Tiguan and has a larger engine than a Honda Accord. I had no trouble merging onto busy highways in Chicago and Detroit, and in fact, I noticed that the shift points felt great and it burst into higher speeds with none of that aggravating lurch some competitors’ cars exhibit.
Some of my favorite features of the Mazda3 GT:
Perforated leather-trimmed sport seats
Bose® 9 speaker surround sound system
Steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, which were simple and intuitive
Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring System12 with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Dual-zone automatic climate control system
6-way power adjustable driver's seat with manual lumbar adjustment
Rain-sensing windshield wipers
Hasta la vista, summer sedan
At the end of our trip, I felt a little sad to turn in my new friend, this Mazda3 GT. We had driven hundreds of miles together, and it represented that freedom I felt when I was a teenager. However, in this case, I wasn’t exercising my freedom to run. I was free to come home again.
MSRP: Starting at $18,095
MPG: Up to 28 city / 37 highway
Horsepower: 155 to 184 hp
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