We’re happy to forgive you if a 2021 Mazda 3 appears when you call your next Uber. Mazda is known for its mainstream-luxury crossover, especially in the Premium and Premium Plus trims. There are three four-cylinder engines available, along with all-wheel drive. With high-tech infotainment features and driver-assistant features, the 3 remains one of today’s most elegant and athletic compact cars. However, these features could increase the price of the 3 beyond what buyers in the segment will pay. This would give mainstream cars like the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic an advantage.
What’s new for 2021?
Mazda has added two engines this year to the Mazda 3’s lineup, including a turbocharged 2.5 liter four-cylinder on the top trims. The base model comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that is naturally aspirated. The 2021 model year will see some equipment changes between trims. The mid-range Preferred trim does not have navigation or SiriusXM satellite radio. However, it gains a power sunroof.
Pricing and Which One To Buy
Although the 3 hatchback looks great, its bulbous backside makes it difficult to see. We’d rather stick with the sedan. All-wheel drive is available for $1400 in most trims. You get standard features like heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver seat with memory settings, and heated rear seats when you choose the Preferred trim.
Engine, Transmission, & Performance
Mazda offers three four-cylinder engines, starting with the 2.0-liter base sedan. This engine produces 155 horsepower, and only comes with front-wheel drive. The optional all-wheel drive system can be activated by upgrading to the 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 186 horsepower. However, we are most impressed by the turbocharged 2.5-liter with 250 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is available for buyers who choose front-wheel drive. A six-speed automatic transmission is required for all-wheel drive systems. Although all three respond quickly to gas-pedal inputs each model is a little faster than the nonturbo ones. Although we have not yet tested the turbocharged engine, we expect significant improvements in performance. Both the sedan and hatchback feel composed on straight roads, and offer a smooth ride. The Mazda 3 retains the fun-to drive nature of its predecessor. We have praised it. It is well-balanced, has natural-feeling steering and offers a comfortable ride that doesn’t punish drivers when driving on rough roads.
Fuel Economy and Real World MPG
The base 2.0-liter four cylinder Mazda 3 sedan is the most efficient. It has ratings of 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. However, upgrading to the 2.5-liter nonturbo engine will bring those numbers down to 26 mpg and 35 mpg respectively. With ratings of 23 mpg in the city and 31 highway, the turbocharged hatchback model equipped with all-wheel drive is least efficient. On our 200-mile highway fuel economy route, we tested an automatic-equipped sedan with all-wheel drive and the nonturbo 2.5 liter engine. It achieved an impressive 41 mpg. A similar-equipped hatchback was also tested, and it returned a remarkable 41 mpg on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route. The front-drive stickshift 3 returned 38 MPG, which is three more than the estimated.
Interior, Comfort, & Cargo
Mazda carefully designed the Mazda 3’s cabin using premium materials. You can customize either body style with a variety of features, but the best are tied to the trim-level hierarchy. The highest trims have the best features, such as heated front seats and a head-up display. The 3 sedan and the hatchback still have supportive seats and comfortable passengers. The two-box hatchback has the worst rear visibility of all compact hatchbacks, due to its curvaceous design that prioritizes sightlines over views. The interior cubby storage in the sedan is sufficient, but it has six more carry-on bags than the hatch, making it the best choice for those looking for maximum cargo space. With the back seat folded, both cars could hold 16 bags.
Connectivity and Infotainment
Standard 8.8 inch infotainment displays are available. The display looks larger than it actually is thanks to the well-designed bezel, which floats between two cushion-like dash pads. It is simple to use, and can be controlled by a console-mounted knob. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities will require that you purchase the highest-end model. The Bose 12-speaker audio system and SiriusXM satellite broadcast radio are only available on the top two models.