2017 Mazda3 Review

Written by Anqoinette Crosby

With the sliding-glass moonroof opened wide, a fresh summer breeze and the jubilant sounds of the festivities at my destination wafted into the cabin. Steering the 2017 Mazda3 Grand Touring into a handy parking space, I saw my gal pals had already arrived for our evening of dining and dancing.

The event was the grand re-opening of the Town Center, just outside the District. Its construction upgrades complete, our little slice of suburbia now has an idyllic location for outlet shopping, live music and happy hour get togethers. Based upon the size of the crowd contained within the Center’s roped off streets, it’s pretty safe to consider this makeover a welcomed change. 

The same can be said for the 2017 Mazda3. Now in its third generation, the four-door, five-passenger compact is sporting a conspicuous facelift and a feistier attitude. The front wheel-drive compact’s handsome set of 18-inch wheels are complemented by a more pronounced grille treatment, LED fog lights and a bold rear spoiler (standard on the Grand Touring trim I tested).

Inside, the cabin was completely overhauled too. Stylish upgrades kicked the Mazda3’s inviting interior up more than a few notches. I loved the perforated leather upholstery on the six-way power adjustable and heated driver’s seat.

Other welcome touches included a leather wrapped steering wheel, an updated instrument panel, a nine-speaker Bose surround audio system with a CD player, (which becomes more of a rare find with each passing year). The Mazda3 also boasted satellite radio and navigation as part of its infotainment system with voice command and a simple to use seven-inch full color touchscreen.

There were also larger door pockets for storage, but if you’re after more cargo capacity, you’ll want to choose the hatchback to get 20.2 cubic feet hauling capability. The sedan offers a considerably smaller 12.4 cubic feet of trunk space.

The Mazda3’s heads up display, mounted just behind the steering wheel, was an amusing sight each time it deployed. Data displayed included speed and navigation directions. The speed info was good to know, because the Mazda3 tends to inspire rather spirited driving. Its sporty handling can easily mesmerize you, and the next thing you know, you’re going around curves like Lewis Hamilton on a Formula 1 track.

A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine dispensing 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque powered my front-wheel drive GT trimmed Mazda3. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual- and a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 25 mpg in the city, 34 on the highway and 29 overall with the 2.5 and the six-speed manual transmission. Base models with the 1.5-liter four-cylinder and the six-speed manual return 30 mpg in the city, 39 on the highway and 34 combined.

Remarkably, even with these highly respectable fuel economy numbers, when I was comfortably planted in the driver’s seat with my belt nice and snug, I felt a sense of power and excitement. Mazda’s people say they make driver’s cars and my experience certainly confirmed this. Exceptionally fun to drive, the Mazda3 never let me forget it’s a solidly built piece of machinery.

The GT trim level brings numerous standard safety features, including a rearview camera, active front head restraints, automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection and plenty of airbags. Opting for the i-Activsense Safety Package also gets you forward collision and lane departure warnings on GT-trimmed models.

Pricing for the 2017 Mazda3 Grand Touring starts at $24,195.

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