2017 Mazda 3 Touring 2.5 new car reviews

The Mazda 3 has served as the brand's entry-level five-door hatchback for almost 15 years. The latest edition combines the same practical five-door layout with a 184-horsepower 2.5-liter powerplant. Our test car also came with a manual transmission. On paper it looks like another good general-utility car.

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J.G. Pasterjak JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

A couple days before we were supposed to pick up our press loaner Mazda3 in Orange County, we got a very apologetic email from the transportation company. “Hi, we just wanted to let you know that the Mazda3 5 door that you’ll be picking at John Wayne Airport is a manual. I hope that’s okay and this won’t be a problem.”

No, it’s not a problem at all.

In fact, it’s the opposite of a problem.

The Mazda3 is an appliance. And we mean that in the most appreciative terms possible. It’s the blender that makes you a frozen margarita, the tv that shows you the Superbowl, or the oven that cooks the best Thanksgiving dinner you’ve ever had. Some appliances produce wonderful things, and the Mazda3 is squarely in that category.

The 2.5-liter Skyactiv 4-cylinder is not a torque monster, nor is it a high-revving screamer. But it’s flexible, and happy through much of the rpm range. Paired with the slick-shifting sex-speed (sooooo much better shifts than previous generation 3s), the engine can help you slice through traffic with well-spaced gears and long legs, or deliver well over 30mpg when you keep the throttle loads down. It’s a very generous power plant in that whatever style you choose to drive it in—aggressive or economical—it rewards you with a payoff.

Inside the 3 is functional and comfortable. Not fancy, but not cheap. The hatch area is nice and square, and even packing the cargo area to the edge doesn’t impede the hatch closing.

In short, it’s a car with very little downside, even if at first it seems a bit pedestrian. Our faded GT model stickered out just a touch over $27,000, and that’s equipped with a litany of options usually found only in high-end brands and models. That Mazda still offers it with the ability to select your own gears, thus upping both the fun and the human connection to the car, is no problem at all in our book.

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Comments

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thestig99
thestig99 HalfDork
8/24/17 5:34 p.m.

My brother has a nicely optioned 3 GT hatch with the 2.5 6spd combination. I drove it for a week or so and was VERY impressed. I didn't want to give it back.

Fun enough to drive, comfortable, deceptively large hatch (I was in the process of moving at the time), just did everything really well. He has a long highway commute (he has owned it for about a year, and is coming up on 30k miles) and gets well over 30mpg.

However....

Paired with the slick-shifting sex-speed [...] —it rewards you with a payoff.

... it did lack this feature

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
8/24/17 5:54 p.m.

My GF has wound up over 12k miles on her '17 Sport since she got it in December. It's really quite an impressive little vehicle, even with the 2.0. It was an order of magnitude better (as a total package) than everything else we looked at.

WildScotsRacing
WildScotsRacing Dork
8/24/17 9:55 p.m.

That new Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint is just mind-bending to look at. I saw a new Mazda 6 a few months ago wearing it and just wow!

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