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2017 New Car Review: 2017 Mazda3 Grand Touring By John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2017 Mazda3 Grand Touring
ENGINE: 2.5-liter DOHC I-4
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 184 hp @ 5,700 rpm/185 lb.-ft. @ 3,250 rpm
WHEELBASE: 106.3 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 180.3 x 70.7 x 57.3 in.
TIRES: P215/45R18 all-season
CARGO CAPACITY: 12.4 cu. ft. (rear seats up)
ECONOMY: 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway/28.4 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 13.2 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,046 lbs.
TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla
STICKER: $28,230 (includes $835 delivery, $3,400 options)

BOTTOM LINE: The Mazda3 is a very impressive compact car with all the features one would desire in a car (of any size) and a respectable price point.

I have been driving a couple of compact cars recently, so I wasn’t looking forward to the Mazda3 (no offense to Mazda). But I had a trip to the Philadelphia Auto Show planned, and I wanted a smaller car to negotiate Philly’s streets. The Mazda3 was a good choice.

The first part of my trip south involves some back roads with a lot of corners and turns of various radii. I started thinking, “Hey, this car knows what it’s doing on winding roads.” Then we (the car and I) hit then Pa Turnpike with a long stretch at 65-70 mph. “Whoa,” I thought, “This car has a lot going for it.”

For example, it has adaptive cruise control, so I can travel at the speed I want and if I encounter a slower car, the Mazda3 slows down to that car’s speed. It also has blind spot warning, so that any cars approaching me from behind in my blind spots trigger a warning light on the outside rear view mirrors. It also has a lane departure warning, that alerts you if you stray from the middle of the road. This is an annoying beep that does a good job but is a pain in the ears. I found the switch and shut it off.

I parked in a garage, and noticed on the way out that the 3 also has rear cross traffic alert, that lets you know if someone is coming along in the lane you’re backing into. 

Several of these features aren’t standard, but at $1,100, it’s a good option package to opt for. Ride quality of the Mazda3 is that of a larger car. The independent front and rear suspension combined with a 106.3-inch wheelbase help to smooth out some of the rougher patches. 

Our tester did not have SiriusXM included, which forced me to hunt for my (former) favorite Philly classical music station on FM. It was then I realized that there was minimal engine or road noise. How pleasant. I was able to listen to my music without having to turn the volume up to ridiculous levels. The sound quality is good, and the tuning for FM stations is interesting. 

Under the hood is a 2.5-liter inline four that’s rated at 184 horsepower. Since the Mazda3 weighs in at a slim 3,046 pounds, this is more than enough power. I found I could move along with the traffic at all speeds, and even accelerate past the slower vehicles when it was necessary. There’s a small transparent plastic heads up display that rises from the dash over the instrument panel and designates speed. It is so subtle that it is easy to overlook, but it’s handy.

The 6-speed automatic transmission has paddle shifters behind the heated wheel, but the automatic had such good response, especially in the city, that the paddles weren’t needed. 

One of the reasons I chose the Mazda3 was because it was smaller and would be easy to park. I even qualified for “compact car only” parking.  

Instrumentation is interesting. Central on the i.p. is a large tachometer with a digital speedometer inset. You can use this or the HUD, which was my speedometer of choice.  A rotary dial controls all the infotainment functions, choice of screen and tuning. Sometimes for entering a destination in the navigation system you have to out-think the device. However, by the second or third entry, I became its master. 

Front seats are comfortable. Rear legroom is tight. A tall center hump would make it uncomfortable for any passenger back there. The Mazda3 has a good trunk. Rear seat back releases are located in the trunk. When the rear seat backs are folded they form a flat cargo floor.

With a sticker of $28,230, the Mazda3 isn’t exactly cheap, but, sadly, that’s less than the average new car transaction price these days. However, you get a lot of bang for your buck and you probably won’t be disappointed.

(c) 2017 The Auto Page Syndicate

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