Home Fun StuffAutomotive 2013 Mazda3 4-Door Sedan Review – Family-Tested, Dog-Approved #Mazda3 @DriveSTI

2013 Mazda3 4-Door Sedan Review – Family-Tested, Dog-Approved #Mazda3 @DriveSTI

by TerriAnn
2013 Mazda3 Test Drive Family Review


The worst thing about car shopping is when you sign the papers, get it home, and then discover you don’t like it. After all, there’s only so much you can learn from a 20-minute test drive. Some might rent a model they’ve been considering but that has its downfalls as well since many people thrash rental cars (sad but true). So, when I was asked to review a brand new car for a week with a full tank of gas, I said “YES”. Last Monday, I found myself in a 2013 Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring. There’s something about driving a fiery red car that instantly makes you feel like a racer…

2013 Mazda3 Test Drive Family Review

(NOTE: These photos ARE of the same car but the color looks different in each. Sorry!)

2013 Mazda3 Test Drive Family Review

Mazda3 Family Tested Real World Review

The Mazda3 is extremely easy to handle. I’ve noticed that some cars take some ‘getting used to’ before you can drive it comfortably. Not so with this model. Just jump in and go. My husband had the same experience when he first took his turn behind the wheel. I did pick up on that zoom-zoom factor Mazda has been advertising, even though the engine was only a 2.0L (our two cars have 2.5L). The acceleration and overall drive experience in this Mazda3 was so smooth that I kept having to watch the odometer 😛 It also seemed like the car ran better when you took the turns with some speed. I kid you not. When the automatic transmission was changing gears, it was barely noticeable with no jerking or heavy revving. Sure saves on that gear-change whiplash! This certainly wowed my husband.

The model was built with Skyactiv Technology, which gives it excellent gas mileage. This technology makes the engine more efficient, makes the car lighter without sacrificing strength, and lessens wind resistance with a more aerodynamic body. As much as we tried to drive the car, we could only use a half tank of gas! 44 miles per gallon on the freeway? Yes, please. Plus, even on a windy day, we would only hear a hum of outside noise and didn’t have to yell over each other while cruising down the highway. If you’re concerned that the Mazda3 is lighter weight-wise, don’t be as the car actually felt more stable and stuck to the ground than the two (much heavier) cars we personally own.

My husband’s and my favorite feature is the Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM). Any time a car enters your blind spot on either side (when driving), a small graphic lights up in your side mirror. If you happen to turn on your blinker when that notice is lit, you’ll hear a notification beep. I actually missed the BSM when I went back to using my regular car. Having this extra safety feature reminded me to check carefully when switching lanes or turning and warned me if I didn’t see something. My husband kept saying how this option just made ‘so much sense’ and how he thought this should be standard on all cars. BSM is standard on the Grand Touring model.

2013 Mazda3 Test Drive Family Review Blind Spot Monitoring

I want to point out that we did have a pretty upgraded version of this car. That said, several of the extras were pretty stinkin’awesome.

  • Touchscreen Color Radio/Navigation System: Very responsive and MUCH easier than some extra dial or external buttons.
  • Radio: LOVED the HD radio – the reception was so clear!
  • Bose Sound System: I really expected my hubs to be excited about this but I liked it more than him. The sound was true, full, and you could jam without blowing out the bass or my daughter’s eardrums.
  • Bluetooth Handsfree: Pairing was a breeze and the sound quality was fantastic both ways. This was SO much better than any standalone speakers I’ve used. Thumbs up from my hubs.
  • USB Port: Great for charging any electronics that use a USB cable.
  • Keyless Entry/Push Button: This took some getting used to but I did like the fact that I didn’t have to dig in my purse looking for keys when my hands were full with groceries. I did kind of freak out when the guys who dropped off the car first left. I couldn’t figure out how to start the car since I’d never used a push button starter before. Needless to say, I felt a little helpless and extremely ‘blonde’ if you know what I mean.
  • 8-Way Power Driver’s Seat: Up, down, forward, back, tilt up, tilt down, seat recline forward, and seat recline back made for a perfect driving position. It would have been nice to have a memory for other drivers, though, as it’s sad to see someone change the settings and then to have to change them back just right.
  • Dual Auto Climate: I’m getting this in our next car. No if, and, or buts – I just am. Period. My husband is always freezing me to death so this was a wonderful feature!

We also had headlights that turned a bit when the wheel did for better visibility, automatic/on/off headlights, windshield rain sensors, Sirius radio, heated mirrors, and heated seats. Those were nice but ones we probably wouldn’t get for the extra price.

One last note regarding the navigation system. Based on Tom Tom, the maps were okay. We happen to be very well acquainted with this system so we have some lingering complaints. You’ll also want to make sure you go through the settings and see what notifications are checked. The car can make animal noises but that’s merely one of many sounds that you can assign to things such as notifying you when entering a school zone. See what I mean here:

Our experience with the 2013 Mazda3 was a good one and I would be happy to recommend the car to young families or as a commute vehicle. However, the minimal leg room in the back seat was a major drawback. With my husband being 5’11” and having long legs, only a few inches were left behind him while driving. There’s NO way we’d fit three Dutch relatives back there! When we had my daughter sit there, it was only for a short while. We later stopped and let her scootch behind my seat instead. The trunk space was decent – adequate for a light shopping trip to our local warehouse store but not to hold the whole family’s luggage for a road trip.
Aside from that, we all enjoyed this fun car immensely and were sad to see it go.

2013 Mazda3 Test Drive Family Review

For more reviews & car-related tips, visit my automotive site for women & families, DrivingMamas.com.

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Sheilacakes April 27, 2013 - 7:41 pm

Nice car! I love the color

Colleen April 27, 2013 - 7:58 pm

Love the color!

Sheri April 27, 2013 - 8:09 pm

That’s a very nice car.

Stefani April 27, 2013 - 9:53 pm

I love the look of that car. I want to take it on a drive!

Ty @ Mama of 3 Munchkins April 27, 2013 - 11:04 pm

I would totally love to take this lovely car on a test drive!

Emily @FamilyNLifeLV April 28, 2013 - 12:02 am

What a pretty car! I’d drive it for sure!

Vanessa: the queen of swag ! April 28, 2013 - 12:19 am

Looks like such a fun car to drive.

Robin Gagnon {Mom Foodie} April 28, 2013 - 9:04 am

I love it, but don’t think I could go without an SUV with the projects I do.

Tricia Nightowlmama April 28, 2013 - 9:42 am

sounds like a really great vehicle luv the pic of the dog hanging out the window tooo sweet

Jennifer @TheRebelChick April 28, 2013 - 1:25 pm

What a gorgeous car! It looks like you guys had a blast driving it!

HilLesha @To the Motherhood April 28, 2013 - 1:37 pm

What a beaut!

Anne - Mommy Has to Work April 28, 2013 - 5:26 pm

Very sweet car!

Jessica April 28, 2013 - 6:21 pm

Really loving the red! Looks like a fun car to drive around and seems like the dog got the most enjoyment out of it!

Crystal @ Simply Being Mommy.com April 28, 2013 - 6:28 pm

The blind spot monitoring sounds like a great feature.

Elaina- @atimeout4mommy April 28, 2013 - 6:36 pm

Looks like a fun car!

Stephanie April 28, 2013 - 6:46 pm

Love this car! It looks like it has a ton of great features. I actually saw one of these on the road the other day and told my husband that it looked like it was smiling. 🙂

Mellisa April 28, 2013 - 7:34 pm

What a nice car!

Kathleen April 28, 2013 - 8:23 pm

That is one sweet ride! Wish we could fit in a smaller vehicle!

TerriAnn van Gosliga April 29, 2013 - 2:09 pm

Yeah, tough for us too but as a commuter it’s great!

Dianna April 28, 2013 - 8:27 pm

We recently traded in our CX-7 – but only because we needed a minivan. The CX-7 was a great car – and we, too, had many of the features you mention (including push button start and BSM). I would definitely recommend Mazda to anyone searching for a car… too bad the Mazda 5 was too small to work as a minivan for us!

TerriAnn van Gosliga April 29, 2013 - 2:08 pm

Good to know. Fill me in with what car you end up getting next!

Pepper Tan April 28, 2013 - 8:54 pm

Now I know what I want for Mother’s Day :). I have a weakness for shiny red cars. That Mazda 3 is simply oozing with sex appeal.

TerriAnn van Gosliga April 29, 2013 - 1:57 pm

Hehe – careful there, girl. You might end up with more kids to have to fit in that car in that case 😛

courtney April 28, 2013 - 9:37 pm

What a nice car – love the color too!

Leilani April 29, 2013 - 12:09 am

We’re actually in the market for a new mid-size car, since our Prius will not fit 3 car seats in the 2nd row. Thanks for the review. I’ll have to see if this might be one we add to our potential list.

TerriAnn van Gosliga April 29, 2013 - 1:57 pm

Well, with two little ones and one on the way, this might be a bit small. This is more of an economy/compact car. I hope to review a bigger one soon so I’ll be sure to update then 🙂

Lisa April 29, 2013 - 3:27 am

Looks like I’ll have to check one of these out!

Jennifer April 29, 2013 - 8:10 pm

I just drove the Mazda3 a couple weeks ago and absolutely loved it. Sad to say I never figured out how to make the animals sounds work. I was told a sound goes off when you have your blinker on and there is a car next to you too.

TerriAnn van Gosliga April 29, 2013 - 10:47 pm

Haha – did you see my video? It’s actually an option in the navigation and any sound can be assigned to it 😛 I did hear the sound for the BSM though. I’m glad you enjoyed your test drive too!

Toni May 4, 2013 - 6:50 pm

Looks like a great car. Awesome review.

Michele P July 30, 2013 - 10:12 pm

oh my, I have the 2010 Mazda 3 and now I want the 2013 lol… great review…love the car.

TerriAnn van Gosliga August 2, 2013 - 12:50 pm

Thank you – the Mazda3 if fantastic. I can’t give a direct comparison w/ the 2010 but that blind-spot monitoring makes an upgrade completely worth it!

Sheena June 20, 2014 - 6:05 pm

Just found your website and am loving going through all your posts! I just finished a long and painful new(er) car search, so the car test-drive posts are great!

TerriAnn van Gosliga June 20, 2014 - 10:28 pm

Glad to have you here. There’s actually a 3-part series on buying a new car without the headaches on my auto site for women at http://www.drivingmamas.com/?s=new+car . I’m sorry to hear about your frustrating experience. Did you finally end up getting one?

Jason July 16, 2016 - 11:21 am

Nice real world review. I just got a used (30k miles) 2013 Mazda3 i Sport sedan. Of all the upgrades I am missing on my vehicle from your test-driver, I wish I had the blind spot monitoring the most because this car has huge blind spots. As soon as you turn your head to the left all you see is B-pillar and headrest. You really have to stretch your neck. Looking to the right is even worse as the C-pillar is huge and creates a very wide blind spot. Maybe your trim level has much more sound deadening, but tire/road noise is extremely loud inside the cabin. Other that that sound, the driver does feel quite insulated from outside noise, but that tire/road noise I think will bother a lot of people especially if you often drive without music or the windows down and just want to chat with your passengers.

I do not feel the transmission is that smooth, especially with downshifting. In auto-mode I feel it almost as much as in manual mode the engine breaking sensation. The i Sport trim level has the same Skyactiv engine and transmission as the higher level you tested.

All that said…..I am still really liking the car. I like the nimble handling and flat cornering. I like the bolstering on the front seats. The trunk lid is very light making opening and closing painless especially when first unlocking it with the key fob. The design of the center stack (my trim level has no navigation) is appealing and I found it to be better looking than any other compact sedan in the segment.

The exterior looks are very sharp. I do not have red, I have “liquid silver metallic” (i.e. medium gray) and have already gotten a few compliments on the color in just a couple weeks driving it around. I will soon put a set of allow wheels on it to make the exterior looks really pop. I have also already installed a pair of Philips Daylight 4 DRLs into the lower front fascia as my trim level had no DRLs at all!

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