Best Mazda Car, 2018 MAZDA 3 ESSENTIALS: THE BEST SMALL CAR YOU CAN GET?

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Best Mazda Car – What it is: Mazda 3 is well built, handles well and looks good. It has been a favorite of Autoweek for years. Our testers, the Grand Touring version, are the top of the line, above the Sport and Touring models. Tour and Grand Touring produce more half-liter displacement and 29 hp bigger than Sport, but you’ll really be happy with anything 3.

Main Competitors: Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla

Basic Price: $ 24,945 Price Tested: $ 28,035

Highlights: Mazda 3’s display is subtly enhanced last year inside and out. For 2018 3 gets more standard equipment including City Brake Support (autonomous low speed braking) and LED lights with auto leveling (on Grand Touring). All models now have standard G-Vectoring Controls – these systems use software to add to the front wheel load during the turn-in, assist handling, responsiveness and handling.

Our opinion: “Once again,” Mazda press kit said, “Mazda’s spirit has been realized in a compact car designed to be driven.”

I usually disagree with automaker press equipment but this time I mostly do it. Mazda gives a lot of effort to make the car a driver, and if this car has a six-speed manual, and Volkswagen’s Golf does not exist, I will remove “most” from the last sentence. With its fast steering and excellent driving balance, the Mazda 3 is indeed an exciting driver.

This is even more so with manual transits, but this example comes with an optional six-speed automatic. The 2.5-liter equipped version accelerates quickly and smoothly for the most part and is pretty smooth auto. And although this car is not really a hot hatchet (with a transmission) at least the manual will let me get the best of all four and put the chassis light and agile to use well.

The price made me suck my breath a bit, especially since the last Golf I drove was $ 4,500 less. Both Golf and Mazda are rare cars that when I drive them I think “I’ll spend my own money for one of these.”

Other Votes: I will add here that after five days of not driving during the holidays, these 3 are great little sedans to be invited back. Not only Miata is well tuned by Mazda. Its steering wheel, in particular, is close to perfect in this era of electric power. It feels right at the center and has the right weight buildup when the wheel spins. It’s … not fun to drive like Miata on the cloverleafs highway, but very close if you need space for four people.

It’s small. Very difficult with two car seats in the back and two adults in the front. It would be easier though when all the kids are in the front-facing seat. As I write that I am trying to decide whether there is a family of four members who will do this through a small crossover on the market today. Mazda 3 exceeded CX-3 3-to-1 crossover in June, and almost the same during the first six months of this year. So that’s good news. Perhaps Mazda buyers are looking a little more fun in their daily driving, hence less crossover. On the other hand, it even sells more CX-5 than combined 3s and CX-3s, so maybe the family just increases the size.

I am with Wes: This and Golf are two cars that I will and often recommend. Unfortunately both are well below sales list far behind Honda Civic (nice car), Toyota Corolla (better than that), Hyundai Elantra (OK car) and Nissan Sentra (not a good car).

–Jake Lingeman, the road test editor

Options: Premium EQ package includes Mazda navigation, paddle shifters, adaptive headlamps, intelligent braking support, Mazda radar cruise control, traffic sign recognition, auto-tilt Homelink rearview mirror, heated steering wheel, high beam control, , lane keep assist ($ 1,600); red soul paint ($ 300); plate threshold trim ($ 125); rear bumper scuff guard ($ 100); cargo mats ($ 75)