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Pros & Cons

  • Fun to drive
  • Quality interior
  • Good safety scores
  • Tight rear seats
  • Small trunk in sedan




Critics' Rating: 9.3
Performance: 8.7
Interior: 8.7
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.3
Safety: 8.9
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2011 Mazda Mazda3 Overview

If you asked a member of the automotive press what they liked best about the 2011 Mazda3, the first response would probably be performance. Reviewers said that even the base model is fun to drive, especially with a manual transmission. Mazda3 s models have a larger four-cylinder engine that delivers even more power, while the Mazdaspeed3 has a turbocharged engine that has a surprising amount of performance.

While the Mazda3 is more fun to drive than a number of competitors, there is a trade-off when it comes to fuel economy. With the base engine and a manual transmission, fuel economy ratings reach 25/33 mpg city/highway. Choosing a larger engine means you’ll average slightly less. The Mazda3 also gets high safety scores.

Reviewers said the Mazda3’s cabin is high-quality and can come with class-competitive features. Standard in the Mazda3 are a four-speaker stereo and auxiliary input jack. In higher trims, you’ll find features like heated front seats, Bluetooth and a Bose stereo. You can get navigation too, but reviewers thought other small cars had better systems, saying that the Mazda3’s screen was tiny and hard to read. One tech feature the Mazda3 lacks is a USB port, which many classmates offer.

Like many small cars, reviewers said the Mazda3 will be most comfortable for those in the front seats, noting that the back seats are tight for adults. The Mazda3 sedan also has less trunk space than its competitors, but the hatchback model has a competitive amount of space.

See the full 2011 Mazda3 specs »

Other Cars to Consider

Unlike the Mazda3, automotive editors didn’t rave about the 2011 Honda Civic’s performance. However, they agreed that the Civic was one of the most practical 2011 small cars, and that its engine provides good power. The Civic has good gas mileage and a quality interior, which are qualities that helped it earn the U.S. News 2011 Best Compact Car for the Money and 2011 Best Compact Car for Families awards.

If you need a lot of interior space, you can’t go wrong with the 2011 Hyundai Elantra. It has comfortable seating for five and one of the largest trunks in the class. Much like the Mazda3, the Elantra has good performance and a high-quality interior, which can be equipped with features such as navigation and class-exclusive heated rear seats. The Elantra also stands out with higher safety as well as better fuel economy ratings.

Compare the Mazda3 with the Civic and Elantra »


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