Mazda & Honda owners – what annoys you about your car?
March 20, 2015 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Mefites! I asked for used car recommendations a few months ago and got many helpful answers. Since then, I've narrowed down my list to either a Honda Accord, a Honda Civic, a Mazda3 or a Mazda6 - and now I want to know what is annoying about those cars. If you own one, please, kvetch to me about your car!

I made good progress in narrowing down my list back in December, but then for a few reasons I had to put my car-buying plans on hold for awhile. Now that I'm restarting the process, I'm trying to choose between those four models.

I want to know from owners or drivers of these cars: what do you NOT like about your car? They are all basically good cars, so I'd like some info on the little negative things. I’m looking for the kind of small-but annoying things that don’t become apparent until you’ve owned the car for awhile. Annoying radio interface? Uncomfortable seats on long drives? AC/heat controls that are hard to make comfortable? Dashboard too reflective in the sun? Tell me what irritates you about your car.

Extra helpful if you can provide info on year/trim level, but not strictly necessary. FYI I will likely get a manual version of whatever I buy if I can find one.
posted by aka burlap to Shopping (63 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Backseats in my 2006 Mazda 3 hatch-back are tight for adults.
posted by smackfu at 7:40 AM on March 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have a 2010 Mazda6. The cup holders in the center console are too big for cans and I find it difficult to see out the back window when I'm backing out of parking spaces.
posted by something something at 7:43 AM on March 20, 2015

I have a 2006 Mazda3 (i? the base model, manual transmission). It has 85,000 miles on it. Overall, I've been pretty happy with it. Complaints I've had:

-It's had a high-speed aerodynamic rattle somewhere in the frame ever since I bought it. It's annoying, but not enough that I bothered trying to get it tracked down and fixed.
-Road noise at highway speeds is not great.
-The dashboard near the windshield vent has cracked recently.
-I've gone through two full sets of brakes since I bought it, which seems... excessive.
-The passenger seat has one of those airbag switches to stop them from deploying if there's a car seat there. My wife is apparently not heavy enough to trigger the switch, so about half the time she gets in the car it warns me that the passenger airbags are disabled.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:48 AM on March 20, 2015

We love our Mazda 5. However, it does have some shortcomings:
  • it is noisy, especially on highways. It's hard to have a conversations between the front and back seat.

  • the ductwork that brings hot/cold air to the back seats is apparently uninsulated. In the winter it only blows cold air and in the summer it only blows hot air. So useless.

  • it doesn't have four-wheel drive

  • posted by alms at 7:53 AM on March 20, 2015

    I have a 2006 Honda Civic. Before that I had a 2001 Honda Civic. So I liked the first one enough to get a second one, but still no car is perfect.

    I have only ever had Honda Civic, so some of these annoyances may be common to many cars. You know better.

    1. The positioning of the windscreen pillars is precisely calibrated to block my view (5'5" tall) of any pedestrians who are crossing in a crosswalk to my right.

    2. I have 2-door and the backseats are going to force me to ditch all of my friends over forty who are not unusually small or limber, because they are not easy to get in and out of.

    3. They are very attractive to mice for some reason. I've parked it in the same garage as my parents' cars--and while their cars are untouched, mine gets mice. And it's not because it's dirtier; I never do anything in my car that gets it dirty.

    4. They take absolutely forever to warm up if it's cold outside. You want to defrost your window? You can't, at least not until the car is moving. And the car can't be moving until the window's defrosted.

    5. Once a problem with the brake light stopped me from being able to get the car out of park, and I had to perform some weird ritual procedure involving a nail clipper to override it and get it to the dealer. But it was still under warranty, so...

    6. My butt gets kinda sore after 10 hours of driving. But I don't know that that's something that would be fixed by anything but a serious upgrade in car quality...

    7. It's very hard to tell which car is mine when I go to an academic function, because half the cars are Priuses and the other half are Civics just like mine. Often in the same color.
    posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:54 AM on March 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

    I have an 07 Accord Tourer CTD-i

    I love the car; the boot is huge, the seats are ridiculously comfortable and the engine is smooth, powerful and gets 600 miles to a tank.

    In 4 years ownership and 40,000 miles (from 39,000 to 79,000) there have been a few big bills; most notably failure of the module that controls the anti-skid stability system, and a replacement steering rack. The anti-skid module was north of GBP1k and is a common fault if you look on the forums. Honda UK did make a contribution to the cost as it was only just out of warranty.

    The steering rack just had a small leak; I drove it for months just topping up the fluid every few weeks but I had to get a new rack for the MOT (GBP600). The only other issue of note was a seized rear brake caliper which was trivial really.

    I would get another one in a shot, especially if I could verify that the anti-skid module had been replaced.
    posted by el_presidente at 7:54 AM on March 20, 2015

    You will probably buy a newer car than my car - I've got an '02 exec. model Civic, the kind that looks like this.

    The vast majority of my annoyances with the car come down to old car problems, rather than this-specific-car problems (e.g. stuff that's broken, stuff previous owners did, etc.)

    The only car-specific annoyances I have is that the CD player controls are kind of basic, it's hard to remember what buttons to push to set the time when the clocks change (I haven't seen a car radio that does this well), and there's a lever rather than a wheel to adjust the lean angle of the front seats, which makes it harder to get the seat position exactly as I want it. It's also much harder to adjust while driving - I basically have to get out of the seat (and the car) in order to adjust the seat angle.

    Can't speak for newer Civic models in terms of ownership, though as a passenger in the more recent models I've found them considerably less comfortable (harder seats, harder suspension) than my model, and the rear window visibility is slightly less good.
    posted by terretu at 7:55 AM on March 20, 2015

    '07 Mazda3 hatchback here, standard, automatic. Bought new, about to hit 80K. I love this thing and plan to drive it until it explodes into a cloud of rust.

    - Tight knee room in the backseats.
    - Road noise on highways is on the loud side.
    - When I turn the AC/heat "off," I still get a tiny bit of air leakage through the vents.
    posted by fifthpocket at 7:55 AM on March 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

    We have a 2005 Honda Civic coupe value package (power nothing!) and a 2010 Mazda 3 s Sport Hatcback, both with manual transmission.

    The Civic is old (obviously) and so many of these concerns may have been fixed, but it is noisy on the highway and not comfortable for long drives. I also think the transmission shifts at weird spots, and the cheap model we have has no tachometer. That said, we've certainly gotten our money's worth since it is 10 years old, it has 160,000 miles, and it has only ever needed routine maintenance. Still has the original clutch.

    The 3 is my car, so I'm probably biased, but I like it better. Downsides: My husband never remembers to shift into 6th gear, the backseat isn't the most comfortable for tall adults, and the thing eats tires. It has 60,000 miles and I've replaced the tires twice. The tires are also expensive - the last round was $800! It hasn't needed any work beyond the tires, but it made me crabby to pay for them - not crabby enough to sell the thing, but still crabby. The keyfob battery also wears down really quickly - I have to change it every two months or so. It's a cheap battery but it's a little annoyance.
    posted by notjustthefish at 7:55 AM on March 20, 2015

    My ex's Honda Civic had terrible pickup trying to get onto the highway. Heavy traffic going at speed was always a challenge into which to merge.
    posted by 724A at 7:57 AM on March 20, 2015

    I have a 2014 Honda accord, the mid level version with the backup camera and the right turn camera. It's an automatic. I am moderately annoyed it doesn't have cupholders in the back, and the chrome in the center console shows dust easily. It is a pretty generic looking car, too, so sometimes I have trouble identifying it.

    That's about all that bothers me. I've had it a year and a half and still love it. It is still new, though, so it hasn't started to age much yet.
    posted by lilac girl at 7:58 AM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

    We have a 2003 civic lx, 4 door, automatic. It's a great city car.

    - highway noise
    - I can never get the vents directed where I want them for ac. NEVER. I'm 5'8".
    - seems like we've had kinda high maintenance costs (like 2 sets of struts, I think), but that might've been more from heavy Chicago driving for 7 years than anything else.
    - no cupholders in back
    - no real good spot for a trash can

    But it gets great gas mileage, holds a surprising amount of stuff in the trunk, and is super easy to drive and park anywhere.
    posted by Ms Vegetable at 7:59 AM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

    I have an '05 Accord, about 100k miles. I have the same small steering rack leak that el_presidente discussed above. I just top it off now and then...probably should get it fixed eventually.

    Also, I kinda wish it came with an iPod/iPhone output, but if I wasn't so lazy I could just get one installed. Other than that, great car.
    posted by breakin' the law at 8:11 AM on March 20, 2015

    2010 Mazda3, automatic.

    -I agree that the backseat leg room is tight, and road noise (and feel) is high - which seems great at first, but not so much 5 years later.
    -I've had issues with crappy gauges on the tires breaking (original tires), and thus having 2 flat tires at once.
    -Standard audio system is great, but in the winter the bass makes some parts of the dashboard vibrate (only in the winter though...)
    -I've lost coins in the slot in the cupholder where the lid slides over. Also impossible to clean when drinks spill.
    -I broke the plastic tab on the center console far too easily (something got caught on it and the tab broke, not a big deal, it just doesn't click shut so will lift up if something is under it)
    -I think the seats are super comfy, but my mom hates them.
    -Bluetooth mic is behind the wheel so I have to shout around the wheel to be heard well.

    But overall I LOVE my car and you should get a Mazda3 :)
    posted by DoubleLune at 8:12 AM on March 20, 2015

    Former Civic owner (model at the time: late 90s). For the most part, loved the car. Very reliable, and stellar gas mileage.

    The one awful thing about the car: it was terrible in the snow. That's probably true of any similar small car, but it was particularly true of this one. That may or may not be a concern for you, depending on location.

    (That particular model had great acceleration, though--the car weighed practically nothing, and would shoot out onto the highway given a chance.)
    posted by gimonca at 8:13 AM on March 20, 2015

    I had a 2012 Civic and there were two things I didn't like: (1) visibility wasn't great when switching lanes or merging; and (2) I'm tall and couldn't put the seat back quite far enough.
    posted by unreasonable at 8:15 AM on March 20, 2015

    I still see mid-90s Civics wandering the streets of Minneapolis, I noticed one just yesterday. If you can keep them from rusting, they're very long-lived.

    Any other minor inconveniences I had probably wouldn't apply to a more recent model (I replaced the radio on my car, that whole area has changed several times since then).
    posted by gimonca at 8:16 AM on March 20, 2015

    My 2004 Honda Civic LX doesn't do so well in ice and snow.

    It's kind of a tight fit with two people and a car seat in the back seat. We're looking for a bigger car now, because I don't see how two car seats would work in the back seat of the Civic, especially if we keep our daughter rear facing. I couldn't fit a rear facing car seat in any seat other than the back middle seat without having to move the front seat up so far it would be practically unusable. I wasn't able to use the LATCH system for securing the car seat because the middle seat doesn't have it.

    The fan is kind of weak. When I got rear-ended, I rented a VW Jetta while the Civic was in the shop, and it had a much more powerful fan, which I miss.

    It doesn't have a ton of trunk space.

    It doesn't have a rear window wiper. It's annoying waiting for the rear defroster to do its thing.

    It doesn't have a lot of features, like electronic stability control, that newer cars have. Things are starting to go wrong with it, like one cold morning I rolled down the driver's side window and it wouldn't roll back up (it's a power window). Eventually it did go back up, but I'm afraid to roll that window all the way down since then. These things probably have more to do with it being a 10 year old car than with it being a Civic.

    When I got the Civic, I wanted a car that got me from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss and without requiring much maintenance. It has done well at that for 10 years.
    posted by Anne Neville at 8:19 AM on March 20, 2015

    I've always found Mazda seats to be really uncomfortable.

    We owned a 2008 Honda CR-V for a while and it had so many bells and whistles, it felt like things were going to break on it. Like, we couldn't change a tire ourselves because there's a tire pressure sensor that has to be reset in there by a dealer or tire place. Maybe I'm just coming from a simpler time when you could work on cars yourself, but it was frustrating enough that we traded it in for something older and with less fancy stuff.
    posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:21 AM on March 20, 2015

    Response by poster: Awesome answers, y'all. Thanks! Keep 'em coming!
    posted by aka burlap at 8:21 AM on March 20, 2015

    I love my 2007 Mazda 3.

    I agree with previous posters about road noise and about the audio system occasionally rattling some unidentifiable part of the dashboard. It's not the best in snow, which may not matter to you but makes my life hard a few times a year.

    My dad has a newer (2011?) Mazda 6 and that has a much roomier backseat. I think his car just generally feels a little more "luxury" because it's bigger and newer, but I like mine (city living, I'd rather park easily than have a big backseat).

    My maintenance costs have been high over the past few years but I think that's terrible Chicago roads/city traffic and having over 120k miles on it rather than something specific to the car.

    When this car eventually bites the dust I will get another Mazda if I can. I really love it.
    posted by in a dark glassly at 8:23 AM on March 20, 2015

    The only knock I have against Hondas is that their ride quality tends toward the stiff side. It seems worse, the more spartan the model. Thus, my wife's Fit rides ridiculously hard compared to my son's Accord. The Accord, while still solidly sprung, is a far more comfortable ride.

    Otherwise, all things being more-or-less equal, I would always go with a Honda.
    posted by Thorzdad at 8:27 AM on March 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

    We have a 2006 Civic. The 2006-2009 Honda Civics have a secret engine warranty because the engines were so bad. We finally got the engine in ours replaced in 2014, but it took over a YEAR of fighting with Honda to get it done.

    If you buy a Civic made during those years, make sure the engine has already been replaced.
    posted by Ostara at 8:33 AM on March 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

    2013 Civic:

    * Big obnoxious warning screens for maintenance and low gas
    * Can't figure out how my mp3 collection is organized with their audio player
    * Would be nice to have the option for my audio titles to scroll
    * Trunk is oddly shaped, so while it's big, it can't hold very big items (they won't fit through the opening)
    posted by backwards guitar at 8:37 AM on March 20, 2015

    Cannot reset the TPMS sensors without going to the dealer or buying an expensive dedicated tool. I swap my own tires for winter and just end up driving around with the TPMS light on all the time from november to march. Also, the DVD player in our Odyssey is an absolute piece of garbage, it has destroyed every DVD we put in it.
    posted by Poldo at 9:05 AM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

    It's not the best in snow, which may not matter to you but makes my life hard a few times a year.

    Yes, forgot about that in my first comment. Mazda 3s have historically been known for having tires that are technically all-season but that are rather terrible on snow. It feels like you are just kind of floating down the road and if you turn the wheel you would wipe out. Switching them makes a big difference. I don't know if this is still a problem with current models.
    posted by smackfu at 9:11 AM on March 20, 2015

    Honda Civic 2006, mostly we've been happy with it, but I will say: the regular headlights suck, do not illuminate the road well at all. The highbeams are fine.

    I have a hybrid so can't speak to the engine issue, since ours has had different issues in that arena. I will say, the interior is surprisingly roomy for a small car, and we've been able to fit eg tall Ikea bookshelves into the cabin with a little finagling.

    windscreen pillars are positioned to block my view of pedestrians

    I agree with this.

    Once a problem with the brake light stopped me from being able to get the car out of park, and I had to perform some weird ritual procedure involving a nail clipper to override it

    I had a similar thing, and just while I'm thinking of it: there's a little hole on the shifter housing, on the top right side, where you can pry off the hole's cover and jam an unfolded paperclip in there to release the shift lock. In my case it may have been connected to another problem the car was having at the same time, but still - good to know how to fix it.
    posted by LobsterMitten at 9:29 AM on March 20, 2015

    2004 Mazda3 hatchback purchased new, only 45k miles because I don't drive a lot. However I have used it for long road rips from Chicago to Texas and back, twice. The first and only complaint that comes to mind is the blind spots at the back corners. Never, ever depend on mirrors only for lane changes, etc. Oh, and I wish the back seats when they folded down were totally flat - there's a slight incline. Also I wish it had an AUX input but I suspect models that aren't 11 years old don't have this issue. Otherwise love it and hope it never dies.
    posted by misskaz at 9:35 AM on March 20, 2015

    2010 Mazda 3 grand touring. The turning radius is for shit (like, our 06 CR-V is substantially better) and it eats tires.
    posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:43 AM on March 20, 2015

    The Mazda3 is all-new in 2014, so it may be too new for your criteria, but there is almost nothing I'd change in ours. Rear pillars are a bit wide, ride is somewhat bumpy on grooved concrete / slab freeways, seats aren't the most comfortable, especially on the higher end of the BMI range. Beyond that it's definitely the nicest car I've owned. One caveat, it has gotten a lot bigger over the years, so that the 2014 is almost exactly the interior and exterior size of a 2003 Mazda 6.
    posted by wnissen at 9:50 AM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

    My 2012 Mazda 5 keeps thinking my tire pressure is low, so I ignore the warning. Otherwise works fine.
    posted by nickggully at 9:51 AM on March 20, 2015

    Cannot reset the TPMS sensors without going to the dealer or buying an expensive dedicated tool.

    I have a 2014 Honda Civic, and while it wasn't immediately apparent to me how to do so, you can indeed reset the TPMS from home with no equipment, you just push a few buttons. (I'm not sure if this is something new to 2014 models, though.)

    It's admittedly still new, but I really like the Civic so far. The rear visibility is not amazing (but it has a backup camera in the baseline model) and the seat could be softer, but it gets great gas mileage and has a lot of really nice features in the baseline model that we would've had to pay extra for in the Mazdas (which were already more expensive to begin with).
    posted by pitrified at 9:58 AM on March 20, 2015

    I have a 2014 Honda Civic, and while it wasn't immediately apparent to me how to do so, you can indeed reset the TPMS from home with no equipment, you just push a few buttons. (I'm not sure if this is something new to 2014 models, though.)

    No, it isn't. I have the 2013 Honda Accord, and you can reset the TPMS from the car itself - you don't have to take it to a dealer. I have thoroughly enjoyed my Accord, and would buy another one in a heartbeat. I've gotten up to 47.3 MPG in this car (though, admittedly, that was driving downhill in the mountains of North Carolina).
    posted by Telpethoron at 10:10 AM on March 20, 2015

    My 92 Honda Accord (so admittedly quite an elderly beastie) is very frustrating to work on. Not because it's complicated or difficult or it doesn't have good documentation, but simply because everything in the engine compartment is so layered on top of one another to maximize space efficiency that it's a serious trial trying to get to things or fit tools in various areas.

    I fit my new alternator in, in the end, with a block of wood wrapped in a fleece blanket and a rubber mallet.
    posted by WidgetAlley at 10:29 AM on March 20, 2015

    I have a 2013 Mazda3 4-door hatchback. My husband thinks the front seats are really uncomfortable for long drives (he is tall and skinny, meanwhile I am average height and fat, and the seats are fine to me). The back seats are like torture devices and we never use them.
    posted by joan_holloway at 10:41 AM on March 20, 2015

    Agree with all the Mazda owners upthread about tight backseat legroom, aerodynamic rattle, and the severe vibration when the bass is turned up high. I own a 2012 Mazda 3 bought new and for everyday driving what bothers me the most is air leakage when the A/C is turned off or feet-only. Turning radius isn't that great - and this is compared to my previous boxy Toyota FJ Cruiser that I feel had a better turning radius. For long roadtrips, the seats aren't too comfortable and I have to put a cushion under my butt to avoid backaches. Also, it keeps telling me my tire pressure is low (even a week after I had four brand new tires put in, so I ignore it). GPS is a little slow to calculate routes, especially if you take a wrong turn. Totally agree with the center console lid that has a gap on the side that things can full through - a tube of lip gloss fell in there and was invisible until I cleaned the compartment.

    I like but don't love my little Mazda - it's a comfy drive for the most part and I am always AMAZED at how roomy the hatchback is when the back seat is down. Gas mileage is great, and I love the AUX input.

    Would I buy another one? Probably not. I'd like a car that's more solidly built.
    posted by Everydayville at 10:46 AM on March 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

    2008 Honda Civic, automatic. Can't remember exact trim level, but I think it's the middle one (not the cheapest and not the fanciest).

    I got the car new and overall I absolutely love it. The number one drawback for me is that it's pretty terrible in the snow. Even small amounts of snow have me slipping and sliding. I am overdue on replacing the tires so new/better tires might improve things a bit, although I think in general these small cars just aren't great for snowy winters.

    The front seat is comfortable for me, but I'm 5'2 and petite, so YMMV. I think trying to cram 3 people in the back would be pretty uncomfortable, but I'm never in the back seat of my car so I can't give much feedback about that.

    You can put the back seats down, and that's enough for me to get my bike laying flat without taking off the wheels, but it's not the kind of car that would let you move lots of furniture.

    Road noise hasn't bothered me, and in the almost 7 years that I've had the car I've only had to replace the battery and get something fixed with the driver side window (although the warranty covered that).

    I really love this car and I hope to get many more years out of it, but if I'm still living somewhere with snowy winters when I replace it, I probably will go for something that is better equipped for the weather.
    posted by litera scripta manet at 11:02 AM on March 20, 2015

    I have a 2008 Mazda5. Before that, I had a used 1998 Mazda 626 (the precursor to the 6). When I bought the 626, there was a used Mazda Protege (precursor to the 3) that was a year newer. I test drove it and, even though it was newer, the 626 was just a nicer ride. Less road noise, and comfier. I think that is really the difference between the 3 and the 6 - the 6 is just a bigger, heavier, nicer ride. The Mazda5 is based on the 3 platform, so I still have loud-ish road noise. But I have the Grand Touring model, so the interior is nicely done.
    posted by jillithd at 11:04 AM on March 20, 2015

    2005 Mazda6 with just over 100k miles. Runs great, never had problems with it. Backseat is tight with two car seats or more than one adult, and it's a pain to bend over into to get kids in and out of. Also the passenger side sun flap makes a weird vibraty noise that drives me bonkers. (That's probably exclusive to my car.)

    We are considering something higher-up (probably a mid size SUV) since we've got many more years of buckling kids in but otherwise I really love this car.
    posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:08 AM on March 20, 2015

    If it helps any, my 1994 Mazda Protege (323) sedan has been ridiculously reliable in the almost 21 years we've had it. 176k miles of mostly short trips, and has never left me stranded unless I left the lights on for some hours or had a flat tire. Still fun to drive, even if it does have an old automatic transmission. Oil changes every 3 to 4 months. It has a few quirks, but many are age related and a couple are very model year specific. Lots of road noise and small backseat. The parts are sometimes a bit expensive, but not always. The interior has held up very very well.

    We're finally looking at buying a new car, and are probably going to end up in the Mazda 3 i grand touring or s touring hatchback. We do have to go test drive it today because no local car rental place seems to have any and we haven't driven the most recent version. Also because heated seats and a backup camera are must-haves if we're going to spend the money to buy new, as every newer car has lousy rear visibility and heated seats are amazing.

    We've recently had rentals of a Subaru Legacy, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Camry, and Kia Soul, all of which are roughly the same price as or cheaper than the Mazda 3. None of them are as fun to drive as the Mazda 3.

    Fun fact: The 2015 Toyota Camry is about 6 inches longer than the Hummer H1!
    posted by monopas at 11:54 AM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

    I have a Mazda 5, same as alms, above. I don't find it noisy. The heating/cooling is odd, but I think it works better than what alms describes.

    It's fairly perky to drive and gets good highway mileage, but the around town mileage is mediocre. Somehow, I bent a wheel (pothole?). That never happened to me with any other car. The dealer had a guy straighten it which was costly, but cheaper than a new wheel.
    posted by SemiSalt at 12:14 PM on March 20, 2015

    OK, so I adore my 2009 Mazda3 Hatchback. But here's what annoys me:
    - Road Noise is significant, especially at freeway speeds.
    - Easy to flip brights on when accessing other controls
    - Speedometer has weird layout, 60mph is at 12am instead of further to the right, thereby reducing the space dedicated to actual use cases.
    - My specific vehicle has had a rattling noise in the dashboard which migrates around and has never been completely cured despite multiple service attempts.

    Would I buy another one? Yes.
    posted by matildaben at 12:21 PM on March 20, 2015

    Eight percent of the reason I own a 2009 Honda Fit is that the speedometer on the late-model Civic I looked at was digital instead of a dial. I would have hated that. You kids get off my lawn!
    posted by deliriouscool at 12:23 PM on March 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

    2010 Mazda3 hatchback owner here. As others have said, legroom in the back is pretty terrible for adults, and legroom up front gets really bad if you have a rear facing car seat. I imagine a forward facing car seat would be okay, but we aren't to that point yet with our little one. Other than that, it's a great car.
    posted by noneuclidean at 12:23 PM on March 20, 2015

    2010 Mazda 5: The seatbelt retraction mechanism could be more robust ... it's a bit lazy so sometimes my kids slam the belts in the doors.

    The battery is IMPOSSIBLE to get to compared to my prior Fords. I don't know if this is common to all Mazdas or not. I'm accustomed to changing out my own battery.

    I also find the hood release weirdly hard to locate; I usually have to run my fingers along the hood three times before I find it. I'm not sure if that's me looking in the wrong place or if it's an unusually small latch or what.

    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:54 PM on March 20, 2015

    Our 2010 Mazda 3 hatchback has been pretty good all around. The worst thing about it is rear visibility, but that seems to be a general problem with cars made in the last decade or so.
    posted by irrelephant at 2:32 PM on March 20, 2015

    2005 Mazda 3, manual transmission. 124k. Hard to find things I don't like even after 10 years. Original tires were not great in wet/snow so I upgraded. Sometimes power windows stick to insulation around the edge, have had to get one motor replaced. Air filter is hard to replace w/o cutting my hand, and I have little hands. No aux input is a drag, but I can't imagine that's not standard now. Oh, and I can't ever find replacement rear wiper blades in brick & mortar stores. Online is fine though.
    posted by PaulaSchultz at 2:33 PM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

    2006 civic 4-door.

    The interior trim is flimsy : sun visors broke within 4 months and were replaced by dealer with same model which also broke. I gave up after that.

    I had an 80's model previously and it lasted forever. I don't expect this one to do that. I have 135k miles and experience transmission hesitation already. I've maintained it meticulously. My mechanic expects it will last a long time, so we'll see.

    I do love the trunk room and fold down back seat. Acceleration is fine. Maintenance has been routine (I change oil myself with no problem) and it gets average gas mileage for it's group.
    posted by mightshould at 2:49 PM on March 20, 2015

    2010 Mazda 3 hatchback. Agreed that the back seats are pretty small. It wasn't a problem until we had a kid and then we discovered that we could find only one rear facing carseat that would even fit in the car - and it had to go behind the passenger seat. Fortunately, my husband and I are fairly short so it's not super uncomfortable, but if we have another child we will need to get another car. Also worth noting is that the rear doors are pretty small, so it's a bit hard to get a toddler in and out. If the toddler isn't cooperating, forgetaboutit.

    Road noise is highish but not annoying. I love the car aside from the backseat thing.

    I didn't see this mentioned above - the Mazda 3 is SERIOUSLY WIDE. It's short, but wide. Does not fit in a compact space.
    posted by WowLookStars at 2:59 PM on March 20, 2015

    Echoing others, Mazdas seem to have awful turning radiuses. I drove a 2004 Mazda6 for about 10 years and don't have many complaints about my time with the car, other than the insanely wide turning radius. It made parallel parking a fairly tedious process.
    posted by strangecargo at 4:28 PM on March 20, 2015

    2014 Civic LX here.... It's a nice dependable little car in my opinion. Someone else mentioned a problem with pick up while merging on the highway, but I don't have that issue with my Civic. Minor screwy issues:
    1) On a couple of long trips, the tire pressure warning came up. The first time it happened, it was pretty startling because I thought I had a flat. I had to stop and put air in the tires even though they looked fine. After calling the dealership later, they told me that the TPMS has to be manually reset every time you put air in the tires (which I had done a few days before my trip). It happened again out of the blue on another long trip, but I just ignored it and reset it later.
    2) Heater is either too strong or too low, so I'm always playing with it in the winter.
    3) Wipers are getting streaky!
    4) It's a pretty light car and you can really feel that on windy days.
    5) A few times this winter, the windshield iced up from the *inside*... not sure why, maybe it was too humid inside the car. It was hard to clean off those times.

    Yes, it could be better in the snow, but all things considered, it did well with all season tires this past winter... part of driving a car like this in the winter is driving at a safe speed and defensive distance, and it should be alright.
    posted by watrlily at 6:23 PM on March 20, 2015

    In the last 30 years I have owned two vehicles and both were Mazdas. The first vehicle I bought for myself was a 1984 Mazda B2000 pickup. I owned it for 11 years. It was quirky, but I learned some valuable skills, like how to start it on the fly because one of the vacuum switches was tetchy and the engine would die during deceleration.

    The second car I still own - a 1994 Mazda Protege, previously the 323. It is the top of the line model for the time, the LX with the DOHC engine. Due to an accident or two, it has had some significant repairs. On the other hand, we have done a pretty good job of maintaining it and have invested more money in some repairs than others might have. On the other hand, I haven't had a car payment since 1998 or thereabouts. We also put on really nice tires with very good ratings for rainy weather and that was a terrific decision.

    At 21 it is showing its age and while some replacement parts have gotten very reasonable, others have become outrageously expensive, partly because they are also used in the Miata. So now I need to buy a new car.

    I used to travel for work for several years (45+ weeks/year) so I have driven a lot of rental cars, big and small, including recent models of the Ford Focus, the Hyundai Elantra and the Mazda 3. Based on my car rental experiences and a lot of research the Mazda 3 is basically the top contender, partly because Mazda has always known that just because you want a small car it doesn't automatically mean you want a base model without the niceties of more luxurious cars. The other small car makers have started to make many more creature comforts available in their small lines in recent years, but Mazda was doing it in 1994.

    I recently rented a Hyundai Elantra and was surprised to discover I didn't like it at all. It was noisy and had a very stiff ride. I also rented a Toyota Camry with low-to-mid-level trim package. It was okay, but not interesting. So, unless we hate it after a test drive, I will probably get the 2015 Mazda 3.

    Regardless of what car I buy, I will miss especially miss two features of the Protege. It has a great turning radius and great visibility. Just not going to find that on any new car because of safety standards.
    posted by Altomentis at 7:50 PM on March 20, 2015

    2011 Mazda2 about to hit 70k miles. It is a manual. I bought it in late 2011.

    I love my car and am planning on buying another mazda I in the future.

    I drive in the city of chicago. Biggest issue is tires. The tires are never in stock anywhere and potholes are a killer (I've lost 2 passanger front tires to the pothole trolls). I bought a full sized tire to keep instead of my spare after an incident traveling in rural montana where we were told it would take days to get a tire but we found one by sheer luck.

    I've been impressed with how it handles in the snow and ice.

    Stock audio is okay at best. As I'm the one who manages to drive this thing 20k+ miles a year I really wish I had upgraded.

    It can be a tad noisy at higher speeds but I don't find this annoying.

    I agree with the back seating being just plain uncomfortable for adults.

    I manage to get 31.? Miles to the gallon in the city. I
    Also I've been in two accidents one which I was rear ended by a larger SUV and the SUV looked much worse than my car. I could not believe that my car did so well.
    I find the driver seat comfortable but I'm a small woman.
    I'm super impressed with the amount of stuff the car can hold.

    No maintenance issues aside from routine thus far. Clutch still going even though I learned how to drive manual on this car and also abuse it in the city all the time.

    I find it fun to drive and the perfect city car for me.
    posted by AlexiaSky at 7:54 PM on March 20, 2015

    Had a 2010 accord v6. Comfortable, great acceleration, great stereo. Handling was blah, and the car was kind of a boat. It always felt kind of huge to me and hard to park.

    Now have a 2014 civic. I like it quite a lot. It's fairly fun to drive but acceleration isn't that great. It feels like it is going faster than it is which can be good for avoiding speeding tickets. Stereo is good but not as good as the accord. I keep an iPod hooked up and the iPod freaks out about once a week and needs to be rebooted. Hands free phone integration is fancier than the accord but doesn't work as well, so I end up just using the touch screen to make calls instead of voice commands. The front pillars get in the way of seeing people in cross walks and such. Driver side window rolls up/down with one touch but not the passenger side window. They also roll up/down at different rates, which is annoying. I am of average height but my head is very close to the roof.
    posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 8:11 PM on March 20, 2015

    My last two cars have been Hondas - the first was a 1992 CRX HF manual trx. Sporty and awesome and made it to 185k miles until a weird electrical issue torched the engine in a blaze of glory one day. My next one was a 2003 Civic. Loved that car - 5 speed manual tx. It ran for 175k miles without any major problems until it reached age 10. Had multiple problems with the thermostat climbing up into the red for no reason. It finally just kicked one day - cracked engine block. The only issues I had with the Civic were an inordinately long time for the heat to kick in on cold days and tight front seats - two people riding in the car was one too many. Also, the front seats were low, I had to climb down to get in and climb up to get out.

    I now drive a Nissan Versa hatch that I love, but my first choice will always be Hondas. Nissan made me a better deal when I was cash strapped and car-less and needed wheels asap.
    posted by sundrop at 8:29 PM on March 20, 2015

    I have a 2012 Honda Civic and my two serious dissatisfactions are:

    1) the visibility issue that someone else mentioned (people in crosswalks!), which is especially challenging in a college town with tons of peds,

    2) The back seat comes down in one chunk, which means that you can't have someone sitting in the back seat while also transporting a really long thing that is going through the car and trunk. This is a relatively specific and infrequent problem, so I admittedly only noticed it two years into car ownership.

    My only other complaint isn't really the Civic's fault, I don't think, but the software on my iPhone changes so much that the USB interface is sketchily successful at best. 75% of the time I can listen to audio from the phone in something approximating the intended manner, but there was a random month recently where the USB just needed a break, and I used the regular AUX input. Either way, I tend to control it through the phone and am deeply superstitious about not poking at it too much, because it can decide to have an error at any moment and then the only solution is to turn the car off and on again (tricky at 70mph). I do a lot (a lot!) of long-distance driving in extremely rural areas, so radio is a really terrible option for me -- I live and die audiobooks.
    posted by obliquicity at 10:03 PM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

    My 2009 Mazda3 was a death trap on snow and ice with the original factory tires and only marginally better with pricey true winter tires. Also, the tire pressure alarm light came on whenever it was cold, so I spent a lot of winter being paranoid of ignoring it and getting a flat in -15 weather.

    Otherwise, I loved everything about that car. Compact, good gas mileage, surprisingly roomy trunk. Backseat leg room is pretty cramped for adult passengers, but I was usually hauling kids. If you live somewhere without winter, I recommend it wholeheartedly.
    posted by Flannery Culp at 6:45 AM on March 21, 2015

    2007 Mazda3 5-speed GT sport hatchback, a little over 100K on it.

    PROS: Zippy, love all the extras like heated seats, feels big inside—I am a big woman and I'm comfortable in the front seat. I like that I am up a little higher from the road than my last car, a Civic.

    CONS: I don't get great gas mileage in the city—24-26mpg, where my 1996 Civic used to get 32mpg. Passenger seat head rest is always in my eyeline when backing up or looking to see if I can change lanes. Tires are hella expensive to replace. I don't have an opinion about the back seat, but my tall guests don't seem psyched. And EXACTLY what Flannery Culp said: irritating tire pressure alarm light (scary noise, too!) when it is cold out. Scary in snow. Lot of road noise.

    Not sure I will buy a Mazda again due to the snow issue. Plus I feel like I should be getting better gas mileage in the city. I'm hoping to have this car for another couple of years, though.
    posted by clone boulevard at 4:42 PM on March 21, 2015

    2011 Mazda 3 Hatchback Grand Touring (apparently the Mazda 3 is popular here) automatic. I love it!

    Except road noise is a problem, especially at high speeds. I don't even bother using the bluetooth to talk on the phone, it's useless on the highway (and if I'm on surface roads, I just hold the phone).

    I don't know if it's because I have essentially only owned Subarus otherwise, but I was and still am disappointed in the gas mileage on the car. I'm sitting at about 23 right now (my commute is half highway half city), and I think when I take larger trips I push to about 27.

    I have already had to replace the tires (at 30k miles) but I mostly blame shitty factory tires and 100 degree Texas summers, but I don't know if that's a real thing or not (erm, that heat makes the tires wear faster, not whether 100 degree Texas summers exist). I also had to replace the battery earlier this year, maybe also from the extreme weather.
    posted by getawaysticks at 8:07 AM on March 24, 2015

    (ED: wrote this before I realized this was not one of your finalists. I apologize. Need coffee.)

    I have a 2000 Camry LE V-6 with 187,000 miles on it. I bought it with 75,000 miles on it. I have spent ZERO dollars on non-maintenance items since I bought it. Zero!

    In my opinion from a value point of view it might be the best car 4 door sedan ever made! There are two things about it I don't like, since you asked:

    1) Being a V-6 it does not get great mileage. 21 mpg maybe? I am heavy-footed though, and it sure is nice to have the extra power when you need it.
    2) It is the most god awful boring car ever made. Nothing to look at, nothing to talk about, it just does it's thing day after day. Having owned +- 40 cars in my life (I used to be what is known as "kinky" in the car business) I can tell you that if the worst thing you can say about a car is it is boring you are doing pretty good.

    Highly highly recommend it. If I had to buy a new car I would be hard pressed not to buy another one, despite how boring they are. They are that good.
    posted by jcworth at 8:42 AM on March 24, 2015

    As I mentioned above, I have owned many cars, including Accord, Civic, and Mazda 3. (Have not owned a Mazda 6 but the new one in particular looks quite nice. Of the models you mention my choice would be the Accord, based on reliability and comfort.
    posted by jcworth at 8:51 AM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

    Response by poster: Coming back to this thread, oh so many months later, to report that I ended up buying a used Mazda 6 and so far I really like it! It does have loud-ish road noise but that's not too annoying to me. Thanks for all the input!
    posted by aka burlap at 3:50 PM on August 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

    enjoy the Mazda! Our last three cars have been Mazdas - mazda Protégé ( noisy as hell, but excellent on gas mileage) a Mazda P3 ( fancy station wagon thing with low profile tires. put 280,000 on it and never even changed the belts. excellent car.) and now a Mazda CX9. Love it.
    posted by bradth27 at 2:30 PM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

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