The Mazda3 sedan has lots of updates and additions for the fourth-generation 2019 model year after only minor tweaks since 2004. The best-selling Mazda3 is one of a long line of innovative Mazda vehicles.
Curves designed to capture movement, even while standing still, and uncomplicated characteristics enhance the Japanese philosophy of “less is more.” Mazda3 also expresses the progression of the Mazda Kodo design language called “Soul of Motion.”
Four front-wheel-drive models are available, with i-Active all-wheel drive available on three of those. The basic Mazda3 starts at $21,000; Select, $22,600 (front drive)/$24,000 (all-wheel drive); Preferred, $24,200/$25,600; and Premium, the model I drove with AWD, $26,500/$27,900.
New this year is an 8.8-inch center display with the Mazda Connect infotainment, a new three-way layout for standard eight-speaker and Bose Premium 12-speaker audio system, and a new steering wheel design.
My Mazda3 Premium had a Skyactiv-G 186-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation to help save fuel, mated to a Skyactive-Drive six-speed automatic transmission with sport mode.
Skyactiv-Vehicle Dynamics with G-Vectoring Control Plus, a highly capable vehicle movement control system, adjusts power delivery and shifts vehicle weight when entering and exiting a turn for a smoother, less-tiring drive. Mazda3 is EPA rated for 25 mpg city/33 highway/28 combined. Driving mostly on open roads, I averaged 33.5 mpg.
Five exterior colors are available, two standard and three premium: Deep Crystal Blue Mica, Jet Black Mica, Snowflake White Pearl Mica ($200), Machine Gray Metallic ($300), and Soul Red Crystal Metallic ($595) the color of my tester.
White leather and black leather interiors are standard. My Mazda3 had striking white leather seating, white door panel trim, mid-dash trim, and headliner, with gloss black and muted silver trim on the doors, front door speakers, center stack, and center console.
Signature exterior lighting – slim housing for round lights – with LED headlights, daytime running lights and combination taillights with four LED lights inside a red ring – all part of the Premium trim package – accented my redesigned Mazda3 Premium.
The package included adaptive front lighting, a windshield-projected full-color Active Driving Display, leather-trimmed sport seats, a power/sliding glass moon roof with interior sunshade, and paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
The driving display shows vehicle speed, speed setting using cruise control, turn-by-turn directions, distance and lane guidance, lane-departure warning operation and warnings, and smart city brake support warnings.
The exterior also featured 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels with five split spokes and all-season tires, a massive gloss black front grille, gloss black lower front bumper trim, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Dark chrome underlined the grille and continued under the headlights after a “Y” shaped junction. Dark chrome also trimmed the upper side windows, bending down at the C-pillars. The doors were deeply sculpted for a look of motion even when stopped. Twin bright exhaust tips peeked out under black bumper trim.
Crossing over the silver illuminated doorsills ($425), the attractive interior also featured heated front seats, an eight-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar and two-position memory, overhead console with sunglasses holder, front center console armrest with storage compartment, front door storage pockets with bottle holders, rear seat center armrest with cupholders, and 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback. Keyless entry locks and unlocks doors at the touch of a hand
The Bose 12-speaker premium audio system with Centerpoint 2 and AudioPilot 2 had decorative aluminum speaker grilles. Bose engineers considered how sound interacts with its environment when designing and placing the speakers. SiriusXM comes with a three-month trial.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allowed access to maps, playlists, contacts and compatible apps, and more (Apple uses Siri voice command).
The Mazda Connect Infotainment system was operated using voice control or a multifunction “Commander” control at arm’s length on the center console. The system enables Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming, SMS text message audio send and receive, and the Radio Broadcast Data System program information, and has two USB audio inputs and a 12-volt power outlet.
Mazda3 is loaded with passive safety technology to protect occupants and reduce vehicle damage in the event of a collision. A rigid SkyActiv-Body with ring structure, anti-intrusion brake pedal, front seat side air bags and side-impact curtain air bags, front knee air bags, and whiplash-reducing front seat headrests provide hidden safety.
Active safety technology helps avoid or minimize accidents using visual and auditory alerts. My Mazda3 had the driver-attention alert, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, Mazda radar cruise control with stop and go, forward obstruction warning, and rear vehicle monitoring system.
High-beam control, smart city brake support, and pre-crash safety technology offered additional support.
My Mazda3 had antilock braking with brake-force distribution and brake assist, dynamic stability control with traction control, engine-immobilizer anti-theft system, and a rearview camera.
A good-looking frameless auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink for garage door, gate, and security lights added $595; a wireless-charging pad in the center console armrest bin added $450; and a navigation SD card added $275.
The imposing grille and eye-catching side panels got my attention immediately. The white interior was comfortable and inviting, driving was easy, and the ride was smooth.
The infotainment system, however, was challenging and time-consuming with lots of steps – some tucked away in folders requiring a frustrating search.
The infotainment screen was seated in a deep indention in the dash, causing the white lip of the dash to reflect on the screen. The lip was also subtly distracting.
There was a nice cubby under the center stack, behind the cupholders, and one under the dash to the driver’s left.
The speedometer had a speed-limit sign and a red line on the dial indicating the limit, which stretched out to follow the dial when the speed was exceeded -- just one of the little things I noticed.
Options totaling $2,020, along with destination charges of $920, brought the delivered price of my Mazda3 to $30,840.