12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2014 Mazda 3 s Touring - The Sound of Silence

January 28, 2014
2014 Mazda3 Four Seasons Philadelphia 11 Front In Motion
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Long-Term 2014 Mazda MAZDA3 Update - WINTER 2014 (1 OF 2)
Miles to Date: 4,502
"For the entirety of the nine-hour trip to Philadelphia, there was no music. Nine hours. It’s a good thing I actually liked my road trip companion."
After a rather respectable start in our Four Seasons fleet, the 2014 Mazda 3 manifested its first significant issue, in the form of an infotainment malfunction. Unfortunately for graphic designer John Kalmar, the glitch surfaced during his 19-hour round trip drive to Philadelphia.
Before Kalmar departed on his East Coast adventure, road test editor Chris Nelson noted that the center-mounted display wasn’t displaying anything after he started up the 2.5-liter Mazda Skyactiv four-cylinder. This was the start of a slow death for the Mazda 3’s infotainment system, which would go on to lose or gain features — navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and music/radio functionality — every time the car was turned off and on. Even when the screen showed a display, many selectable features were grayed-out on the menu, and others were simply nonfunctional.
2014 Mazda 3 Four Seasons Philadelphia 01 Front Three Quarter
Things initially seemed to be fine for Kalmar, who noted that the display and the Bose sound system were both operational until he turned off the Mazda to pick up his former college roommate and load luggage. Setting out on the long trek to Philadelphia, Kalmar noticed that the heads-up speedometer display suddenly did not work, and the central knob, touchscreen, and control buttons failed to activate the Bose sound system.
“This would prove to be an unfortunate trend throughout the trip,” Kalmar recollects with Zen-like patience. “I stopped in Ohio for food and figured that I’d turn the Mazda off and on to see if that would reset it. After five tries, there was still no music, but at least the navigation worked, right? For the entirety of the nine-hour trip to Philadelphia, there was no music. Nine hours. It’s a good thing I actually liked my road trip companion.”
The tunes, navigation, and all other systems mysteriously began to work again when Kalmar started the Mazda after arriving in the City of Brotherly Love, but on the return trip to Michigan the next day they failed yet again. “We turned the car on and off three or four times trying to get the system to work, to no avail,” said Kalmar. “Filled with the fear of driving another seven hours in radio silence, I scrolled through the settings until I found the option to ‘revert back to factory settings.’ The system took a few seconds to reset itself and the sweet sound of Hall and Oates reverberated through the speakers, leading to a simultaneous yell of joy from my friend Danny and me.” The miraculous solution was not without consequences, one of which was that the navigation system claimed that the “free trial period has run out,” later turning into a screen that claimed the car was simply not equipped with navigation at all.
2014 Mazda 3 Four Seasons Philadelphia 04 Front Three Quarter Afar
When we took the beleaguered Mazda 3 to the local dealership, they revealed that a tech bulletin for this issue was already in effect. The dealer performed a quick and painless update to the 3’s computer, fully covered under warranty, and returned the hatchback to us with a fully operational system. Huzzah! Although we lost saved data such as radio station favorites and configured smartphones, we were quite happy to have everything returned to normal — no more would associate editor Greg Migliore have to endure a commute he described as, “A man and his thoughts on a cold, dark night, followed by a bright, even colder morning.”
As the outside temperature was starting to plummet, we thought it best to swap out the stock rubber for 215/45R-18 93V Pirelli Winter Sottozero Series II winter tires. With the fine help of our partner Tire Rack, the cost for purchase, mounting, and balancing totaled $895.82. We also opted to cough up some coin for handy front and rear all-weather floor mats from Mazda, ordered through Amazon for $103.45.
To see how our 2014 Mazda 3 s Touring handles the raging Michigan winter, check back for our next update.
Photography courtesy Danny Gianino.
Body style 5-door hatchback
Accommodation 5-passenger
Construction Steel unibody
Base price (with dest.) $25,890
As tested $26,185
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)
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
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
Door-sill plates $125
Rear bumper guard $100
Cargo mat $50
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)

Long-Term 2014 Mazda MAZDA3 Reviews to Date:

2014 Mazda 3 s Touring - The Sound of Silence
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Photo Gallery

  • The flowing body lines really stand out.
  • Small hatchbacks feel right at home darting through the city grid.
  • Narrow streets and parking spaces pose no obstacle.
  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art looms stoically in the background.
  • The navigation was certainly handy...when it was working.
  • Xenons are an excellent luxury touch.
  • The Mazda looks fun-sized next to the Eastern State Penitentiary.
  • With nine hours of no radio, the 3 felt like its own kind of prison.
  • This is a bald-faced lie, and you know it, Mazda 3.
  • Many of the audio source options were grayed out and not selectable.

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