What kind of car is the 2021 Mazda 3? What does it compare to?

The Mazda 3 is a compact sedan and hatchback that competes with mainstream cars but has upscale aspirations. Its price range fits that narrative as it starts in the low $20,000s and ranges up to the mid-$30,000s. Rivals include the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta, and Hyundai Elantra.

Is the 2021 Mazda 3 a good car?

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Yes. The Mazda 3 meets the needs of a wide range of buyers by offering good looks, verve, practicality, and frugality. It comes with standard front- and available all-wheel drive and a range of three 4-cylinder engines. We rate it a 6.7 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Mazda 3?

The big news this year is the addition of the 2.5 Turbo models with a 2.5-liter turbo-4 that makes 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque (250 hp and 310 lb-ft on premium fuel). These models sit at the top of the lineup and come packed with features, though they aren’t appreciably sportier. 

The Mazda 3 sedan comes in three model lines based on engine. The base model is the 2.0 and it’s only offered for the sedan. The 2.5 S sedan and hatchback come in Select, Preferred, and Premium package trim levels, though the hatchback doesn’t come in Select trim. At the top of the lineup are the new 2.5 Turbo and 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus.

All models feature a sleek, forward-canted shield-like grille and soft curves along the sides rather than sharp character lines. Both the sedan and hatchback cut a traditional silhouette, and we think the sedan is particularly sharp. The hatchback, however, has thick rear pillars that make it look heavy and impede vision rearward. All models boast attractive cabins with upscale, padded materials and smart bits of metal trim.

How much does the 2021 Mazda 3 cost?

The 2021 Mazda 3 2.0 model starts at $21,445 and the 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus tops out at $34,695. All-wheel drive adds $1,400 on 2.5 S models and comes standard on Turbos. 

The 2.0 has decent but not great features for the money, highlighted by power accessories, LED headlights, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

The standard safety feature list is more impressive. It includes automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, a driver-attention monitor, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. The Mazda 3 has performed well in crash tests.

All Mazda 3s are tuned for a balance of comfort and control, though we wouldn’t call them sporty like we would in the past. That fits into Mazda’s goal of taking the 3 upmarket, though the torsion beam rear suspension is low-tech and only the bigger engines are best at realizing that goal. 

The base engine is a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 155 hp. It’s offered on only one model and one body style. 

The larger 186-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 offers good power and comes in models that are still bargain-priced, though they also range up to $30,000. It’s the only engine offered with a 6-speed manual transmission, but it’s only offered on one trim level. The other models get a 6-speed automatic that shifts smoothly, but has fewer cogs than many competitors. 

The new 2.5-liter turbo-4 cranks out lots of power that’s delivered with restraint. It comes standard with all-wheel drive and makes for a fast, but not particularly sporty package. 

Fuel economy is just average for the class, which is still frugal. It can reach 36 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined, though models with the larger engines are in the mid-to-upper 20s combined.

Inside, the 3 has good room up front and decent room in the back. The hatchback doesn’t offer much more cargo space due to its shorter length. The materials impress for the class, but the infotainment doesn’t. It lacks a touchscreen and requires too many inputs to complete simple tasks. 

Where is the Mazda 3 made?

It’s made in Yamaguchi, Japan.