Dec
04
2019 Mazda 3 AWD Sedan, 2019 Mazda 3 Sedan

2019 Mazda 3 Sedan in Soul Red Crystal Metallic (a $595 option)

2015 Audi Q52019 Mazda 3 Sedan AWD w/Premium Package

Class: Compact Car

Miles driven: 292

Fuel used: 11.3 gallons

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortC+
Power and PerformanceB+
Fit and FinishA
Fuel EconomyB
ValueB+
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyB
Tall GuyB-
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Drivetrain
Engine Specs186-hp 2.5L
Engine Type4-cylinder
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Drive WheelsAll-wheel drive

Real-world fuel economy: 25.8 mpg

Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 25/33/28 (city, highway, combined)

Fuel type: Regular gas recommended

Base price: $27,900 (not including $920 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Cargo mat ($90), all-weather floor mats ($125), illuminated door-sill plates ($425), frameless auto-dimming mirror ($275), navigation SD card ($450), wireless charging pad ($275), premium paint ($595)

Price as tested: $31,055

More Mazda 3 price and availability information

 

Quick Hits

The great: Dynamics, available all-wheel drive, classy interior on top-line models

The good: Fuel economy, available features

The not so good: Control layout, limited rear-seat room

 

Rick Cotta

After testing an all-wheel-drive hatchback earlier this year, we finally had an opportunity to try out the sedan version of Mazda’s compact car, which was redesigned for 2019. The redesign not only added all-wheel-drive versions, but also moved the car upscale, at least in top trim levels. Which, in both cases, is what we sampled.

Test Drive: 2017 Subaru Impreza

2019 Mazda 3 AWD Sedan

Always on the sporty side, the new-for-2019 Mazda 3 is now aimed at a “premium” target, which shows in upper-line models by virtue of appointments, available features … and pricing. Our loaded test sedan was nicely appointed and had a host of nice features — including all-wheel drive — but topped $31,000.

Not surprisingly, we found the Sedan to be much like the Hatchback — but with a trunk. It also had better rear visibility thanks to thinner rear roof pillars, making overall visibility quite good.

2019 Mazda 3 AWD Sedan

The trunk is spacious enough, though sickle-shaped trunk-lid hinges dip into the load area. There’s scant under-floor storage — none if you get the high-end stereo, which fills what’s there with a speaker — but the rear seat backs fold virtually level with the load floor (making it easier to slide long items forward) a rarity for sedans in the compact class … and in fact, sedans in general.

Something we really liked that was carried over from the hatchback body style (where it’s fairly common) to the sedan (where it’s not) is that the rear seat backs fold down to rest nearly flush with the trunk floor, which makes it easier to slide long items forward — a big plus in our book. The only downside is that there’s scant storage space beneath the cargo floor, and that’s just “unofficial” space inside the wheel of the spare tire — and even that’s not an option if you opted for the high-end stereo, which puts a speaker in that spot.

2019 Mazda 3 AWD Sedan

It’s a mixed bag inside. On the positive side, appointments on our tester were top-notch and there were lots of neat features. On the negative side, the infotainment system is controlled exclusively by two console knobs (no touch screen), which wildly complicates what should be easy adjustments.

Something also carried over was the control layout … which we didn’t like. Mazda went to console knobs to control most functions in the last generation — greatly complicating adjustments — but at least you could access the touchscreen when the car was stopped to ease most processes. No more. Now the screen is non-touch and of a lower/wider profile, the latter of which helps in some ways (like the rearview-camera image), less so in others (like the navigation screen). But you now have to do everything through the console knobs, which will make you dread having to do such “complicated” tasks as, say, inputting a new radio station into memory.

Another annoyance we noticed — in both 3s tested — was that the electronic parking brake automatically activated when putting the car in Park, but after start-up and putting the car in Reverse, it didn’t want to automatically de-activate. Most times it would do so after you had the gas pedal down for a moment and the car had reared up a bit, but a couple of times — usually first thing in the morning — it wouldn’t release at all; you had to flip the console button. We’ve never noticed this on any other brand of car.

Test Drive: 2019 Honda Civic Touring

Although passenger space isn’t overly plentiful, it’s more than adequate for four average-size adults, with the rear seat limited to those up to about 5’10 — and even they will be short of legroom if the seat ahead is moved far back. But that’s why there’s the larger Mazda 6. Interior storage space isn’t overly plentiful either, but also adequate.

Test Drive: 2019 Hyundai Elantra Limited

2019 Mazda 3 AWD Sedan

The Mazda 3 tripped our timer at an average of just under 8 seconds in the 0-60 dash, a fairly good showing. But what wasn’t shown was the great throttle response, aided by quick downshifts of the 6-speed automatic transmission.

A strong point of the 3 is its powertrain. The standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is large for the class, as is its 186-horsepower output. And it’s linked to a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission (a 6-speed manual is available on the front-drive hatchback), a combination that provides an impressively strong full-throttle jump off the line and even more impressively quick kickdowns when the throttle is stabbed at speed. We timed our tester at just under 8 seconds 0-60; while not a stellar performance, it’s good for the class, with linear response being a nice add-on. The suspension provides a reasonably comfortable if not entirely sporting ride/handling combination, all of which puts “driving dynamics” into the 3’s plus column.

Also residing there are interior appointments and feature availability. At least on top-line models, lots of interior surfaces are padded, and two-tone color combinations are offered — black/white on sedans, black/red on hatchbacks — all of which lends the upscale ambiance Mazda says it’s shooting for. And in addition to all the expected high-tech features, the 3 makes available some that are unusual for the class, including a head-up display, power driver seat with memory, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive headlights (they turn with the front wheels in corners), and adaptive cruise control with stop & go capability (great in traffic).

Test Drive: 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE

Mazda’s 3 has long stood as kind of a sporty entry in a class where that’s not the norm. While that still holds to some degree, higher-line models now also push the upper boundaries when it comes to luxury and features, and all versions throw the advantage of available all-wheel drive into the mix. That allows the 3 to continue standing out in the compact crowd … though for entirely different reasons.

2019 Mazda 3 AWD Sedan, 2019 Mazda 3 Sedan

With its upscale appointments, available all-wheel drive, and rather sporty demeanor, the Mazda 3 carves a nice niche for itself in the compact class. Particularly if you live in the snow states and want all-wheel drive — which considerably narrows your sedan choices — this car should be on your list.

Check out our Compact Car Best Buys

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2019 Mazda 3 Sedan