Reviews

2014 Mazda 3 s Touring – Breaking it In

Miles to Date: 1,524

Long-Term 2014 Mazda MAZDA3 Update: Winter 2013 Array Miles to date: 1,524

Happily answering the call to visit some college friends who currently live in Iowa City, I got the chance to take the new 2014 Mazda 3 on its first long-distance road trip since joining our Four Seasons fleet. Eager to see if the sporty little 184-hp hatch could keep me entertained for seven hours on the highway, I set off from Ann Arbor with high expectations.
The trusty 2014 Mazda 3 didn’t disappoint, but it did surprise me. While staffers here have praised the 2014 Mazda 3 for its agile driving dynamics and nicely-weighted steering feel, the colossally boring nighttime drive due west across Michigan and Illinois instead meant I became much more acquainted with the hatchback’s redesigned interior.
While I tend to agree with copy editor Rusty Blackwell, who finds the dark-colored interior “somewhat drab,” there’s a lot to be said for its refinement and usability. The infotainment system was surprisingly intuitive, with a responsive touchscreen and handy center-console-mounted knob. Volume control and voice activated commands built into the steering wheel made fuddling with the music and Bluetooth-connected phone a total breeze.


Four hours in, I noticed how I was still reasonably comfortable (aside from a slumbering left leg) sitting in the 2014 Mazda 3’s leather seats, and then it hit me Death Star-style — that’s no leather! Road test editor Chris Nelson had a similar reaction, noting that the interior’s “Very nice leather s…leatherette?! Damn, that’s some nice faux heifer.” The seats are soft and plenty supportive for longer journeys, although the back seat is definitely a little tight for most passengers.
Finally off the highway, I noticed two things. First, poor lighting on rural Iowan roads means stop signs seem to magically appear out of the corn. Second, the 2014 Mazda 3’s front-vented and solid rear disc brakes work very, very well.
After catching up with my friends and turning in for the evening, the next day was full of action for the 2014 Mazda 3. Between shopping for groceries, loading up on junk at a local consignment shop, and taking the little hatch slightly off-road to explore the fascinating Devonian fossil gorge, the Mazda 3 held its own. The 20.2 cubic feet of cargo space proved plenty, and the optional cargo mat helped keep everything nicely in place as we hit a few off-road bumps.
The modern-styled Japanese hatchback looked comically out of place in a town full of big domestic trucks and sedans, so much so that a nice fellow in a Mazda Miata excitedly beeped and pointed at us from across the intersection, ecstatic to meet another Mazda in amidst a sea of Americana. Sticking out like a sore thumb in an unfamiliar place is never ideal, but it was definitely worth a good laugh as we slowly cruised down blustery Iowa City’s narrow streets.
Having confidently conquered its first road trip, the 2014 Mazda 3 is proving to be a welcome addition to our fleet. Its next big obstacle is braving the brutal Michigan winter.

Overview

  • Body style 5-door hatchback
  • Accommodation 5-passenger
  • Construction Steel unibody
  • Base price (with dest.) $25,890
  • As tested $26,185

Powertrain

  • Engine 16-valve DOHC I-4
  • Displacement 2.5 liters (152 cu in)
  • Power 184 hp @ 5700 rpm
  • Torque 185 lb-ft @ 3250 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed automatic
  • Drive Front-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 27/37/31 (city/hwy/combined)

Equipment

  • standard equipment

    • Xenon headlights
    • Halogen fog lights
    • LED DRLs
    • Gloss black grille
    • Rear spoiler
    • Bright beltline trim
    • 18-inch aluminum wheels
    • Heated exterior mirrors
    • LED taillights
    • Leatherette-trimmed seats
    • 6-way power driver’s seat
    • Heated front seats
    • Automatic dual-zone climate control
    • Keyless entry and ignition
    • 60/40-split folding rear seats
    • Front center armrest
    • Leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and brake handle
    • Head-up display
    • 7-inch touchscreen w/center controller
    • Navigation
    • 9-speaker Bose audio system
    • SiriusXM satellite radio w/4-month trial subscription
    • Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity
    • 2 USB ports
    • Pandora, Aha, Stitcher, and HD radio
    • Cruise control
    • Paddle shifters
    • Rearview camera
    • Rear cross-path detection
    • Blind spot monitoring system

Chassis

  • Steering Electrically assisted
  • Lock-to-lock 2.6 turns
  • Turning circle 37.1 ft
  • Suspension, Front Strut-type, coil springs
  • Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
  • Brakes F/R Vented discs/discs
  • Wheels 18-inch aluminum
  • Tires Dunlop SP Sport 5000
  • Tire size 215/45R-18 89W

Options

  • Door-sill plates $125
  • Rear bumper guard $100
  • Cargo mat $50

Measurements

  • Headroom F/R 38.6/37.5 in
  • Legroom F/R 42.2/35.8 in
  • Shoulder room F/R 57.2/54.4 in
  • Wheelbase 106.3 in
  • Track F/R 61.2/61.4 in
  • L x W x H 175.6 x 70.7 x 57.3 in
  • Passenger capacity 96.4 cu ft
  • Cargo capacity 20.2/47.1 cu ft
  • Weight 3002 lb
  • Weight dist. F/R N/A
  • Fuel capacity 13.2 gal
  • Est. fuel range 400 miles
  • Fuel grade 87 octane (regular unleaded)

 

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