It’s Saturday night and you’re all set to drive to the Cedar Springs area in Dallas, or Boystown in Chicago, or South-of-Market in San Francisco. Thank goodness you’re driving the compact yet classy Mazda3, because parking will be tight.
Measuring in at 104 inches long — just two inches longer than the Ford Focus — the Mazda3 can get in and out of tight parking spaces with ease. People who’ve driven it frequently agree that it’s a great little all-around car.
Admittedly, there’s nothing all that spectacular about the Mazda3, but that’s what makes it such a great ride. If all you need is a reliable vehicle to get your from Points A to Z and all hot spots in between, the Mazda3 is the place to start (and maybe end).
Anti-lock brakes, halogen headlights, power mirrors, traction control, and an anti-theft system are just a few of the standard features that come with the Mazda3. All engines are four-cylinder, and mileage can run as low as 20 mpg in the city and as much as 40 mpg on the highway. The base model starts at $15,000, and the fully-loaded one goes as high as $25,000.
But why take just my word? Whenever you’re shopping for a new car, always do your homework. Here are websites with reviews that I feel are accurate and reliable:
TheCarConnection gushes about the Mazda3′s handling, stability, and class-leading steering feel, as well as the swanky interior — though road noise can be a problem.
Edmunds.com also finds the Mazda3 to have very good control on the road, gripping it with firmness not normally displayed in a small car. The grip may be a little too firm, they add, as many small car drivers are used to the “softness” of, say, the Toyota Tercel.
U.S. News and World Report, always a reliable source for new car information, gave the 2012 Mazda3 a ranking of six (out of 41) in the Affordable Small Car Category, citing the model as having both great gas mileage and great performance.
About the only downside that most reviewers find — myself included — is that the Mazda3 is not just tight with parking but, unfortunately, it’s also tight on interior space. Getting in and out of the backseat is tough, even if you’re an adult of average build, and being comfortable in the backseat is also more of challenge than it should be. Children and pets, though? Perfect.
The only other aspect that I disliked was the navigation and control screen, which is available on the higher-end trims. The screen is too small to be useful, and in some ways it’s a distraction, though the actual navigation system itself is quite useful.
Best of all, the 2012 Mazda3 is virtually identical to its slightly younger 2013 sibling — and at sites across the country, the 2012 model is going on sale, as dealers work to make room for next year’s models. If you’re looking for a reliable car to move around the city with ease, you’d be smart to check it out.