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2019 Mazda3 AWD Review By John Heilig

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


ENGINE: 2.5-liter 4

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manual mode

HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 186 hp @ 6,000 rpm/186 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm

WHEELBASE: 107.3 in.

LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 183.5 x 70.7 x 56.9 in.

TIRES: P215/45R18

CARGO CAPACITY: 13.2 cu. ft.

ECONOMY: 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway/18.2 mpg test

FUEL TANK: 12.7 gal.

CURB WEIGHT: 3,248 lbs.

TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended

COMPETITIVE CLASS: Chevrolet Bolt, Kia Forte, Volkswagen Golf

STICKER: $30,635 (includes $920 delivery, $1,845 options)

BOTTOM LINE: The Mazda3 is a serviceable compact car the offers a good ride, but is slightly underpowered.

The great thing about testing cars over a long period of time is change. I remember driving a Mazda3 several years ago and wasn’t overly impressed. This edition, however, offers a lot of amenities that you’d expect from a larger car at a more reasonable price. The Mazda3 is still a compact, however, and displays some of the characteristics of that segment.

For example, ride quality is borderline good. It tends to be choppy on less-than -perfect road surfaces, but it’s fine on asphalt.

Under the hood is a 2.5-liter 4 that is rated at “only” 186 hp. Many cars have smaller 2.0-liter engines that deliver more power. In general, the power level of the Mazda3 is decent, although it could use a tad more. On my hillclimb test, I had my foot to the floor on a couple of sections, although most of the time power was adequate.

Also on the hillclimb I used the manual shift paddles tucked behind the wheel. These paddles are smaller than most, but they work just as well. They don’t get in the way. Shifting was a lot of fun.

Like few cars in its segment, the Mazda3 offers a heads up display, where your speed is projected on the windshield. Most HUDs are almost impossible to read if you’re wearing polarized sunglasses. You must tilt your head to read the HUD clearly. However, Mazda either “pre-tilts” the HUD or has compensated for the polarization issue and you can read the HUD even when you’re wearing sunglasses.

Front seats are comfortable with some side support. Great support isn’t necessary because this isn’t one of the Mazdas you’d race. Rear seat legroom is cozy and passengers back there get intimate with the backs of the front seats. In addition, there’s a tall center hump that would make it even more uncomfortable for the center passenger back there.

In the center of the dash is a larger horizontal infotainment screen. The home menu has a choice among information, entertainment, communication, navigation and settings. For entertainment, I found it impossible to change the Sirius XM station and resorted to Bluetooth and my iPhone.

The master controller on the center console has major choices, then you can use it to “fine tune” once you’ve made a major choice. An owner should spend some time with the owner’s manual before taking the Mazda3 out on the road and trying to figure it out there.

The air conditioner worked very well during our test. We had 100-degree weather and the AC cooled us as quickly as could be expected.

Interior storage consists of a large cubby at the base of the center stack. Cupholders are tucked in under the center stack. There’s a medium-sized console/arm rest with a Qi charger inside plus 12-volt and USB outlets. I liked that you can slide the arm rest forward.

What impressed me a lot was the large trunk that was wide enough for my golf bag. A foursome could make it to the course in the Mazda3 with all their gear, so long as the two in the back seat aren’t too robust.

I have a few complaints. The you shut the car off, the emergency brake automatically sets. It won’t unset until you fasten your seat belt.

And the radio comes on every time you start up, even if you shut it off manually.

Overall, the Mazda3 fares well among its competition. The only knock is the tight rear seat and the difficulty in trying to tune the Sirius XM radio.

LEARN MORE: The Most In-Depth Independent Mazda Consumer Research - Anywhere!

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