New Car Reviews

2014 Mazda 3 s Touring – MPG Test vs. 2014 Honda Civic EX-L

Miles to Date: 16,677

Long-Term 2014 Mazda MAZDA3 Update: Summer 2014 ( 2 of 5 ) Miles to date: 16,677

It’s no secret — we dig the 2014 Mazda 3. It’s an All-Star for 2014. It was a finalist to win our 2014 Automobile of the Year award. The sedan version won our compact sedan comparison. I invited it to my 24th birthday party. We recommend it to our friends.
We thought we’d finally found a chink in its armor when staffers began to gripe that the Mazda 3 wasn’t paying off at the pump. Particularly during the colder months, the hatchback seemed to delivery poorer fuel efficiency than its 27/37/31 city/highway/combined ratings suggest. Even our most restrained highway cruises yielded only 33 mpg. Once the weather turned less hellish and the 2014 Mazda 3 returned from its well-deserved Cajun vacation to New Orleans, it was time to put the Mazda to the test against a worthy competitor — the 2014 Honda Civic EX-L.


No Need to Hypermile

On our 220-mile loop from Ann Arbor to Kalamazoo, Michigan and back, we drove a balanced mix of city streets, back roads and highways. Much to our delight, the 2014 Mazda 3 finished the outing with an average of 37.3 mpg, just north of its highway rating. Mind you, the air conditioning was on, and we weren’t actively trying to hypermile the car. Clearly the cold weather had a noticeable effect on the Mazda’s efficiency earlier in the year. But how did the Civic compare?
Although the Honda Civic weighs less than the Mazda, has a smaller 143-hp 1.8-liter engine compared to the Mazda’s 184-hp 2.5-liter, and uses an efficient continuously variable transmission rather than the Mazda’s conventional automatic, it drank almost the exact same amount of fuel. The Civic was slightly more economical at 37.7 mpg, but we’d consider this difference practically negligible.


Even if it does turn out that the 2014 Mazda 3 and the 2014 Honda Civic EX-L are comparably efficient, the Civic is a bore compared to our peppy hatchback. While there isn’t any glaring fault with the Civic’s pleasant, comfortable driving dynamics, the Mazda 3 feels more urgent, eager, and responsive at every turn. The Civic’s CVT makes the sedan slow to respond, so the car feels clumsy, which is a disappointment compared to Honda Civics of old.
“The Mazda 3 is in its own league as far as driving dynamics,” associate web editor Joey Capparella says. “There’s less body roll, it has a quick-shifting transmission, and the brake pedal feels firmer and more direct. Best of all, it gives up little refinement compared with the Civic.” We noticed that the Mazda had a slightly harsher ride and more road noise than the Honda, but these are minor tradeoffs we’d happily make in exchange for the superior driving experience.


It Never Ends

Our primary beef with the 2014 Mazda 3 has consistently been its infotainment system. When the system is working, it’s intuitive to use, but it seems like more often than not it is flaking out on us. After already dealing with issues that included a software update from the dealer, the screen again would intermittently turn blue and the audio would cut out.
Another trip to the dealer revealed our software was again out date. At no cost under warranty, we got an update and picked up the Mazda that same afternoon.
We’re looking forward to a few more months with 2014 Mazda 3, which is every bit as solid now as the day we took delivery. “The last Mazda 3 suffered from squeaks and rattles,” reflects associate editor David Zenlea. “I’ve heard not a one in this car, despite the relentless torture from our broken Michigan roads.”


  • 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)


  • 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


  • 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)


  • 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


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