Nearing the end of its third generation, the 2017 Mazda3 continues its stellar reputation as a versatile compact available as a sedan or hatchback.
The Mazda3 improvements include a retuned suspension, a new electronic parking brake, an updated dashboard design, a new steering wheel and new front and rear fascias. Stiff competition in the compact segment from Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, Kia Forte and perennial best-selling Honda Civic prompted the upgrades.
Read about the 2019 Mazda 3 here.
The Weekly Driver Test Drive
The top-of-the-line Mazda3 Grand Touring model, my test vehicle, featured a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower. It’s standard with an automatic transmission, but the six-speed manual transmission was a pleasant surprise. Its short-shift, smooth gear-changing added to the enjoyment of the sporty experience.
Compact sedans defined as “zippy” once weren’t available. The Mazda3 does it well. It’s responsive and authoritative. Turns and maneuvering through traffic are all part of the fun. The efficient manual transmission complements the drive.
In addition to a healthy list of standard features from other trim levels, the Touring model includes head-up display and leather seats. The seats were firm, with the driver’s electronically adjusted and the front passenger seat manually adjusted. The plexiglass head-up display would be better as a window projection feature; the pop-up functionality is flimsy.
The premium packed ($1,600) is a good idea and adds adaptive headlights, a heated steering wheel with paddle shifters and navigation. The $1,000 safety package is also reasonably priced with lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning.
High-quality interior materials
Easy-to-use infotainment system.
Plexiglass head-up display screen.
Tom-Tom navigation system not up to industry standards.
Facts & Figures: 2017 Mazda3
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.3 seconds.
Fuel economy: 25 mpg (city), 33 mpg (highway), six-speed manual transmission.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $23,895.00
Manufacturer’s Website: www.mazdausa.com.
Price As Tested: $27,730.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.
What Others Say:
“Handling is what makes the Mazda3 feel “zippy,” as it changes direction quickly and with authority, responding directly to steering inputs.” — forbes.com.
“The 2017 Mazda3 Grand Touring 5-door, while competing with several vehicles in the same class and price range, delivers an impressive package regardless of body configuration, powertrain and model, at a reasonable price.” — tflcar.com.
“The 2017 Mazda 3 is a top choice for a compact car with a classy and updated look. It has a fun and entertaining design and a beautiful interior.” — autoworldnews.com.
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“Strong gas mileage to ride comfort and interior and exterior designs to handling, the 2017 Mazda3 is hard to beat in the compact segment.”
Article Last Updated: August 15, 2019.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.