Her and His Reviews

May 2012

2012 Mazda 3

There are always two sides to everything, right? Well, the truth is there are many more than that! To keep our car reviews innovative and well-rounded, we are providing you with not just one, but two points of view on the same exact vehicle – Her and His perspectives.

Her: Anne Fleming, Car Buying Advocate,women-drivers.com
His: Don Hammonds, Writer, AutomobileJournal.com 

MSRP: $24,495. And, without options: $22,550 MSRP: $24,495
With "Zoom Zoom" and a smile, how can this car not be fun to drive? The power train consist of 156 horsepower and the new SKYACTIV Technology make this 4 cylinder engine in the best selling Mazda vehicle great in terms of fuel efficiency and still a great handler. The 6 speed sport with manual shift mode are there for the guys (do women really need this?) who love the feel of a stick. Needless to say, it's sparkling. Mazda3 has been at the top of the heap for some time in the compact car field, and the 2012 model is no exception. Acceleration is instantaneous, braking is sure and safe, and handling is darned good, too. The engine is a 2.0 liter, 155 horsepower four cylinder with Mazda's much touted Skyactiv system. Lots of torque and oomph on hand here. More on this in the technology section below.
Fuel Economy
28 city and an average of 40 highway miles. Outstanding fuel efficiency. Mazda cracks the 40 miles per gallon on the highway barrier with aplomb, thanks to the Skyactiv system
The Car
Mazda has up'd the ante with the SKYACTIV engine and this great selling model is a top ranked for those who want great fuel economy and still want some kick in the car. It is not the car for tall passengers, or a big family - it's a compact - so know that from the get-go. Nice dashboard and clean combination of satin and black matte plastic combo to give it a 'techy' feel. The 16" alloy wheels are an 'expected' on a sports model. Four adult passengers or three children in rear max. Great visibility in the car. What helps is the Tech Package: for $1400 the Blind Spot monitoring and alert warnings are like another set of eyes. Mazda3 demonstrates capably that you can have it all on a compact car. It's quite luxurious inside, with soft, supportive leather seats, nice matte black finishes, a console and dash that are angled nicely to give a sense of piloting a jet in a cozy cockpit setting. Lovely indeed, and expensive looking. Outside, the styling is understated and elegant, and has worn well over the years. Overall, I'd call it a Baby BMW Three Series.
This model scores 4 stars out of 5 from the Insurance Institute for Highways Safety. Included are anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, traction and stability control and dynamic stability control. Lots of airbags are in this compact including Front airbags, front side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags are standard. Remote keyless entry, 24 hour roadside assistance and front and rear stabilizer bar. LATCH Child Safety Seat Anchors. Rain sensing front wipers and the blind Spot warning alert system is extra. All the requisite bells and whistles here such as side airbags, traction control, stability control, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Frankly, the Mazda3 is competing with highway mileage found in hybrids - that cost thousands of dollars more. For younger families and urbanites, this is a great and affordable choice. The height-adjustable driver seat and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel allow for customized driving. Being an "arm-rest" driver (a must have feature), I am happy for the sliding armrest in the front. Though not a big car, the 60/40 split-folding rear seat afford some extra cargo space. NAVIGATION system, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and surround sound Bose -speaker system are included. Heated front seat and a sunroof are standard. Sirius XM radio subscription for 4 months. Auxiliary input jack included. Pollen filter in the air conditioner a real plus. Clearly, the most important thing here is the Skyactiv system. There are many components and features that make up the Skyactiv system. First the Mazda team found many parts and components within their 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine that were not operating as efficiently as possible, and some exhaustive changes were made to upgrade and improve them. It all comes together to make a tremendous difference in the car's performance and economy. Standard features on our top of the line Grand Touring model includes power mirrors, power windows, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, air-conditioning, power locks, keyless entry, an outside temperature display, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, a rear-seat center armrest, a trip computer, Bluetooth (phone and audio streaming), and a sunroof. Other standard equipment includes a sunroof, 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system, heated mirrors, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a sliding front center armrest, a color trip computer and a navigation system.
Aesthetics & Styling
Who can resist that smile-of-a-grill coming at you? It is so eye-catching and distinct. The clean exterior and interior make this universal design appealing. Touch points are all nice effects and dials are all within reach. And steering wheel-mounted audio controls help with keeping two hands on the wheel and two eyes on the road. Quite lovely looking, but the styling has been around a bit, and with all the other brands changing their compacts rapidly, it's probably time to replace the current Mazda3, or at the very least, update it.
Basic Coverage: 3 yr./36,000 mi. Drive train: 5 yr./60,000 mi. Roadside Assistance: 3 yr./36,000 mi. Basic Coverage: 3 yr. / 36,000 mi. Drivetrain: 5 yr. / 60,000 mi. Roadside Assistance: 3 yr. / 36,000 mi.