Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring Sedan: The Upscale Premium Compact

Highlight: The Mazda3 is the most upscale looking vehicle in the compact segment.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $28,370 (Base model $18,970)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; a rearview camera; daytime running lights; hill launch assist; electronic brake force distribution; a stability control system; speed-activated door lock system; city brake support system; and a tire pressure monitoring system

Standard Equipment (Base Sport Model): 16-inch wheels; 6-speed manual; a 7-inch infotainment screen; a sport mode transmission; analog gauges; a/c with pollen control; center console with storage; cruise control; push-button keyless ignition starter system; a remote keyless entry system; a tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a removable cargo cover area; and cloth manually adjustable front seats

Standard Equipment (Grand Touring Model): 18-inch wheels; a 2.5-liter/4-cylinder engine; a 6-speed automatic sport transmission; 184-horsepower engine; Daytime LED headlights; an electronic parking brake; automatic headlights; bi-LED headlights with auto leveling feature; fog lights; a 9-speaker BOSE system with a satellite radio; a navigation system; dual cupholders integrated into rear cupholders; a keyless entry system; a power sunroof; an overhead console with sunglass holder; paddle shifters on steering wheel; illuminated passenger vanity mirror; heated dual power mirrors with integrated turn signals; automatic rain-sensing wipers; digital gauge speedometer; power brake handle with red stitching; power driver’s side seat; perforated leather seats; heated front seats; a rear deck lip spoiler

Optional Features On Test Vehicle: cargo net; scuff plates; front air dam; door mirror caps;navigation system;paddle shifters; an adaptive front lightening system; smart brake support system; a radar activated cruise control system; traffic sign recognition; rear bumper skirt; side sill extension; an automatic rearview mirror; a heated steering wheel; high beam control; a lane departure warning system; and a lane keep assist system 

Other Trim Level:       


Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder/155-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage:

What’s New:  With a few adjustments in the content, the Mazda3 is essentially a carryover for the 2018 model year.

Why:  In 2016, we reviewed the stylish and performance-oriented 5-door hatchback.  Over that two year time period, the vehicle is virtually the same. This time around we swap out the hatchback for a compact sedan.

The 2018 Mazda3 continues to be available as a sedan or a hatchback.  Both body styles are available in several trims, with either an automatic or a manual transmission.

And like with all of Mazda’s vehicles, the compact sedan wears the brand’s signature prominent grille. In fact, the grille gives the entire line up the premium look one would expect from a luxury vehicle.

Also the sporty looking compact can be outfitted with the latest high-tech advanced safety driving features. Some of those safety features consist of a radar-activated cruise control, a smart braking system for city or high traffic areas and the much needed traffic recognition signs.

The peppy Mazda3 Grand Touring we reviewed was outfitted with such features as upgraded 18-inch wheels to a power driver’s seat to an automatic temperature control system to a high end audio system to white perforated leather seats. Yes, you read that correctly, white leather. That color in a compact took us by surprise, too. Again, we would not expect such a premium interior color in a mainstream vehicle, more particularly in a compact. Moreover, this vehicle’s curvaceous design can appeal to a variety of demographics, especially the hatchback.

The Mazda3 we reviewed also contained a sport mode, which slightly altered the driving dynamics of the vehicle.

Furthermore,  inside the Mazda3 one will notice a clutter-free layout of the instrument panel, with its stand alone, flat screen-like fixed infotainment system, mirrors that of such premium priced vehicles like the Audi and Mercedes-Benz.  Yes, this Mazda has one of the best interior layouts in the non premium compact hatchback segment.

But: Unlike the five door hatchback we reviewed a few years ago, this sedan literally feels like a compact. Just like in the larger Mazda6, the seating position is low and it does not sit upright like many of its segment competitors. The interior cabin seems cramped and the seating positon is not aligned with many of today’s midsize vehicles. Furthermore, the rear seating area is not designed for average size adults to take a road trip in the vehicle. The Mazda3 lacks such comfort features as ventilated front seat and heated rear seats.

Lastly, it takes a moment to adapt to the one dial that controls the infotainment system. It would be great if Mazda followed the theme of its former owner Ford, adding knobs and buttons to its infotainment system so that one can easily turn the dial to a radio station.

Verdict: Besides the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and VW Jetta, the Mazda is priced about $1,000 more than the base Chevy, Hyundai, Kia and Nissan. Unlike all of the competitors in the segment, the Mazda has more of a premium look and feel despite the fact of its cramped interior cabin. The Mazda3, which is available with a host of high tech safety features, seemingly is a sturdy vehicle that is yearning for many miles ahead.
Competition: Chevy Cruze; Honda Civic; Ford Focus; Hyundai Elantra; Kia Forte; Nissan Sentra; Toyota Corolla and VW Jetta

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