Edmunds expert review: The 2014 Mazda 3 marks the third generation of the compact car favorite. In this redesign, Mazda set out to preserve the car's traditional strengths -- including its everyday practicality, choice of sedan and hatchback body styles and fun-to-drive nature -- while simultaneously improving refinement.
It looks as if Mazda has come through on this mission. The 2014 Mazda 3 is based on the same new lightweight chassis that underpins the CX-5 and midsize Mazda 6 sedan, and sits atop a wheelbase that is 2.4 inches longer than the current model. The new Mazda 3 is also a bit wider and lower. More importantly, the new 3 adopts Mazda's newest, more aggressive-looking grille design, which means the 3's smiling Nemo face is gone. To be honest, we're not going to miss it.
The 2014 Mazda 3 comes with familiar engines, starting with the improved 2.0-liter four-cylinder that Mazda began offering in the 3 a couple years prior. However, the optional 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has been overhauled to provide a stronger power delivery and better fuel economy. Compared to the 2.0-liter, the 2.5 drops just a bit in terms of efficiency but, thanks to its extra power, delivers a considerably better driving experience.
There are plenty of changes inside the 2014 Mazda 3 as well. The sporty cabin ambience remains, but this time it's part of a more modern, flowing design, paired with vastly improved materials quality and a new touchscreen and electronics interface. Of equal importance is a newly available suite of safety features, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and a low-speed collision-mitigation system. As a result, the 3 feels more grown-up than ever before. This isn't just a car for 20-somethings anymore.
There's no shortage of quality players among compact cars, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte. And the excellent Ford Focus is certainly worth a look if you want a budget car that's entertaining to drive on back roads. But with its newfound refinement, the latest Mazda 3 reasserts its place as a premier choice for a small sedan or hatchback. 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
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