Mazda 3 vs. The Rest
July 12, 2014 11:32 AM Subscribe
I'm about to pull the trigger on a new 2014 compact car. I've done my research and driven almost everything in the segment in the last year as a rental. It's come down to a Mazda 3 i Touring hatchback with the full tech package. Looking for input based on experience.
posted by spitbull to Shopping (40 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Tell me how much you love (or regret buying) your late model compact and why (especially if it's a Mazda 3, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, or Hyundai Elantra). Any options you wish you'd sprung for? Any unpleasant surprises at 5000 miles?
My order of desiderata: good fuel economy without sacrificing handling, road feel, and responsiveness; safety; build quality; comfort; usable tech.
Seems like the major complaints about the Mazda 3 are road noise and tight space inside, neither of which strike me as problems.
Is there a car I'm not considering? Seems like the Civic is the safest long-term bet based on the historical record, but it drives squishy to me (not a fan of CVT). Focus has a ton going for it but . . . It's a Ford. I don't have good experience with Fords. Elantra (limited) surprised me with its comfort and road feel, but has nowhere near the zip of the Mazda or the Ford and lower gas mileage. Mazda has the best mileage of the class (non-hybrid) but the sportiest handling and -- surprisingly -- the best crash safety ratings.
I don't want a Toyota (it leads in no category!), and hate the look of the Corolla anyway and it has relatively bad safety stats, amazingly. I've driven a few Jettas and like the bigger car feel and ride, but hate the handling (and rear drum brakes, pfffft). Also, it's fugly.
I've heard good things about Kia Forte but see few on the road.
I'm tempted by the 2.5l 184hp motor in the S series model Mazdas, but the sacrifice in fuel economy seems significant compared to 2.0l 155hp i series motors. If you decided otherwise, I'd like to hear about that too.
Max $25k is my budget. I'm definitely buying new, even though I know the economic arguments for late model used. In this segment, the cars seem significantly better now than even 2-3 years ago, with better gas mileage especially making the price premium less drastic over time, and better safety stats being worth money to me, as is peace of mind. A two year old Mazda 3 with low miles is only 3-4k less than a new one anyway, and the model was completely redesigned for 2014, with much better mileage (from 33 on the 2012 to 40 for the 2014 on the highway -- with the amount I expect to drive that closes a lot of the price gap over 5 years).
Finally, if you've bought a Mazda in the New York area in the last 5 years and either liked or hated your dealer, that's welcome info. Prices really don't vary much in this segment so a dealer with better service is a consideration.
I know the decision is subjective and I'm almost there. I'm looking for opinions from people I trust who have worked through this very common shopping scenario.