Friday, January 13, 2012

Mazda3 - Doing the Job Well

I was expecting the Mazda3 five-door I tested to do a fine job of hauling me and my stuff in comfort and economy, and it certainly did so. It has been on my short list of "Cars I'd Buy" for quite some time.

As a compact wagon, it's the perfect car for efficient commuting during the week and carrying lots of gear on the weekend. I carry a bass and amplifiers, so that's easy. You may have camping gear or make periodic trips to Costco. Same difference. The rear seats flip down easily (and feel very lightweight when you release the catches on them). When the seats are up you can put real people in the back. Four might be happier than five, but three slim folks in back is do-able.

With its 2.0-liter, 155-horsepower engine, the Mazda3 delivered 32.7 miles per gallon--that's against the EPA's 27 City, 38 Highway (31 Average) scores. So--I outdid the EPA this week, for a change. Mazda is touting its new "SKYACTIV" Technology, which is their way of saying they worked on many of the details of a conventional powertrain to increase efficiency. EPA Green Vehicle Guide scores of 9 for Air Pollution and 7 for Greenhouse Gas, along with those favorable mpg numbers, make this a great choice for anyone who wants to go green without spending the extra money for a hybrid.

My tester came with a six-speed manual transmission, so it felt sportier--and a little more like its MX-5 Miata cousin. An automatic is also available, and it increases the fuel economy by 1 mpg.

Other than a mediocre audio system (and no USB port or satellite radio) I was happy all week in my tester. And the price brought a smile too--just $19,745, including delivery.

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