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$6,084 - $9,947
$15,200 - $24,200

Pros & Cons

  • Athletic handling
  • Great fuel economy with Skyactiv engine
  • Cramped back seat
  • Confusing navigation system




Critics' Rating: 9.2
Performance: 9.0
Interior: 7.7
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.3
Safety: 9.2
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Mazda Mazda3 Overview

The 2012 Mazda3 comes with a four-cylinder engine, and reviewers said it’s peppy around town but can feel pokey when merging or passing on the highway. They noted that the available Skyactiv four-cylinder engine offers a bit more oomph at higher speeds and provides better fuel economy. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while six-speed manual and five- and six-speed automatic transmissions are available, depending on the trim. With the Skyactiv engine, the 2012 Mazda3 gets up to 28/40 mpg city/highway, which is superb for the class. The base Mazda3 gets lower estimates, with 25/33 mpg city/highway. Test drivers praised the Mazda3’s sharp steering and strong brakes. It hugs curves confidently, making it one of the most fun-to-drive cars in the class, they said. Most said the ride is comfortable enough for daily driving, though a few critics cautioned that it may feel too firm for some commuters.

Test drivers were impressed with the quality materials in the 2012 Mazda3’s cabin and praised its elegant design. Most thought there is adequate head- and legroom in the front seats, though some said that taller drivers may wish for more legroom. Several reviewers said the back seat is more cramped than the back seats of rival compact cars. The Mazda3 sedan’s trunk is smaller than many rivals’. Though the hatchback offers more cargo space than the sedan, hatchbacks like the 2012 Ford Focus and Kia Rio offer more space. The base Mazda3 sedan seats five and includes a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power windows and a four-speaker stereo with an auxiliary input and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Available features include Bluetooth, cruise control, a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, navigation and push-button start. When it was new, the Mazda3 also offered a power driver’s seat, leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats and blind spot monitoring. Reviewers said that the audio and climate controls are easy to reach and use, though a few complained that the available navigation system has awkward controls and a small display screen.

Other Cars to Consider

Test drivers said the 2012 Chevrolet Cruze has a spacious cabin that feels upscale for the class. They also praised the Cruze for its composed ride and nimble handling.

Reviewers said the 2012 Ford Focus has superb handling and an interior that feels premium thanks to quality materials and excellent fit and finish. The Focus is also available as a sedan and a hatchback, which offers great cargo space for the class.

Compare the Mazda3, Cruze and Focus »


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