Select a year
- Highs Looks fancier than rivals, feels fancier than rivals, same features as rivals.
- Lows No pure performance model, hatch's poor rear visibility, top features bracketed by trims.
- Verdict One of the classiest compact-car experiences on the market.
With comprehensive refinement and sophisticated driving manners, the Mazda 3 is one of the nicest compact cars in its class. Available as a hatchback or sedan, the Mazda is a richer-feeling alternative to rivals such as the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla. In our testing, its responsive four-cylinder engine proved frugal on the highway, and both body styles maintain Mazda's commitment to driver engagement. While the 3 doesn't offer a high-performance model, it's always agile when the tarmac curves and comfy when the road gets rough. An excellent infotainment system and standard driver assists place the 2020 Mazda 3 among the best compacts out there.
What's New for 2020?
For 2020, Mazda gives the 3 lineup more standard driver-assistance features. Previously, the base model wasn't privy to any of the advanced safety equipment that was offered on higher trim levels and similar rivals. Now, every 3 has Mazda's i-Activsense suite that includes adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, automatic high-beams, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The 3 hatchback is tempting because of its distinct appearance and available stick-shift transmission. Upon closer inspection, the hatch's bulbous backside compromises visibility and the manual gearbox is only offered on the top-of-the-line Premium model that stickers for at least $28,420. Instead, we'd stick with the more practical sedan. Those who want all-wheel drive can add it for $1400. Paired with the Preferred trim level, it gets standard features such as a Bose audio system, heated front seats, power-adjustable driver's seat, and SiriusXM satellite radio.
Find your perfect ride!
We're partnering with Carvana because we want to make it easy for you to find the exact vehicle you're looking for.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Every Mazda 3 comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 186 horsepower. While a manual transmission is offered on the hatchback, all-wheel-drive versions and the sedan have an automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard but all-wheel drive can be had with the automatic. Down the road, Mazda intends to debut the company's new Skyactiv-X four-cylinder engine that employs compression-ignition technology to save fuel. While every 3 responds quickly to gas-pedal inputs, none are particularly quick, and Mazda doesn't make a performance-oriented version. Instead, both the hatchback and sedan have a refined ride quality and feel composed on straight and twisty roads. We've praised the new Mazda 3 for retaining the fun-to-drive nature of the outgoing model, with tight body control, natural-feeling steering, and a firm ride that manages to not punish occupants over rough roads.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The 2020 Mazda 3 isn't the most fuel-efficient compact car, with some rivals cracking an EPA-rated 40 mpg on the highway, but its real-world mpg exceeds those expectations. The front-drive 3 is rated up to 27 mpg city and 36 highway, however, adding all-wheel drive drops those numbers to as low as 24 mpg city and 32 highway. We tested a sedan with the automatic transmission and all-wheel drive on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test route, and it posted an outstanding 41 mpg—8 more than its estimate. We also tested an all-wheel-drive, automatic-equipped hatch that beat its EPA highway rating by 2 (34 mpg observed). Likewise, the front-drive, stick-shift version returned 38 mpg (3 more than estimated).
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Mazda 3's cabin is thoughtfully designed and lined with premium materials. Both body styles can be outfitted with a slew of desirable features, but the best ones are bracketed into the trim-level hierarchy. That means a head-up display, heated front seats, and leather upholstery are all reserved for the top-most trims. Still, the 3 sedan and hatchback have supportive seats and comfortable passenger accommodations. However, the five-door model has the worst rear visibility among compact hatchbacks due to its curvaceous design taking priority over sightlines. Interior cubby storage is adequate but those who want the most cargo-carrying ability should choose the sedan, which held an extra carry-on bag in the trunk than the five we fit behind the hatchback's rear seat—both held 16 bags with the back seat folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
An 8.8-inch infotainment display is standard and looks even larger than it is, thanks to a nicely designed bezel that floats between two pillowlike dashpads. The system is easy to use and is controlled solely by a console-mounted rotary knob. Those who want Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability will have to look at versions pricier than the base model, and the available 12-speaker Bose audio system and even SiriusXM satellite radio are only found on top two models.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
The 2020 Mazda 3 earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and it was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Every model also boasts a bevy of standard driver-assistance technology such as automated emergency braking and automatic high-beam headlights. Other key safety features include:
- Standard adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Mazda covers the 3 sedan and hatchback with a conventional warranty plan that is bested by Hyundai and Kia's lengthy 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage. Likewise, Toyota is the only competitor to offer complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance