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…
(NOTE: These photos ARE of the same car but the color looks different in each. Sorry!)
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.
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.
For more reviews & car-related tips, visit my automotive site for women & families, DrivingMamas.com.