The 2011 Mazda MAZDA3 is perhaps best known for its original design. Starting in 2010, Mazda changed the car's exterior appearance in such a way that the grille looks like it smiles. This dopey grin doesn’t please every critic, though. In fact, many find the MAZDA3's new look more annoying than appealing.
However, the 2011 Mazda MAZDA3 receives much more favorable reviews, even from critics who previously despised its looks. Perhaps they have simply gotten used to the new design. Then again, they might have been swayed by improvements that engineers made to the vehicle.
Body styles: hatchback and sedan
Models: s Sport hatchback, s Grand Touring hatchback, i SV sedan, i Sport sedan, i Touring sedan, s Sport sedan, s Grand Touring sedan
Engines: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 2.5-liter four-cylinder
The 2011 model has been noted for its smoother ride. It sits on a lower chassis than previous versions, making it look a little sportier while helping to eliminate vibrations in the cabin. The base 2.0-liter engine doesn't offer as much power as one might hope, but the 2.5-liter version has plenty of get-up-and-go to make the morning commute fun.
The 2011 MAZDA3s Sport introduces drivers to the punchier 2.5-liter engine. It also has 17-inch alloy wheels, a dual exhaust system, fog lights, and a rear spoiler. Mazda also adds heated outside mirrors and a sunroof.
The 2011 Mazda MAZDA3 i SV, which represents the cheapest trim level, comes with 16-inch steel wheels. Bump up to the 3i Touring and you get some very nice additions, including 16-inch alloy wheel and remote keyless entry.
While Mazda takes a big chance with the model’s odd exterior design, the interior is all business. The higher trim levels offer similar appeal to luxury cars with considerably higher prices. The interior also gets a few upgrades with better upholstery, leather accents on the steering wheel and shift knob, electroluminescent gauges, and a trip computer. The MAZDA3s Sport comes as a hatchback or sedan.
The 2011 Mazda MAZDA3 i SV includes full power accessories, and a four-speaker stereo system that includes a CD player and auxiliary jack. Drivers get to take advantage of height adjustments, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, and audio controls built into the steering wheel.
The 3i Sport adds a few features that some people will find necessary. Air-conditioning, an automatic transmission, and a temperature display have become standard features in many base models, but Mazda waits until the second trim level to add these features.
The 3s Grand Touring adds even more impressive features that emphasize style and comfort. Heated front seats and automatic dual-zone climate control keeps drivers and passengers comfortable in all types of weather. It also has leather upholstery, a ten-speaker Bose sound system that includes a five-CD changer, and an eight-way power driver’s seat for maximum comfort on long trips.
The 3i Touring adds cruise control, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth compatibility, and a stereo system with six speakers instead of four.
The 2011 Mazda MAZDA3 offers several packages that add popular features to lower trim levels. Buyers can, for instance, add the ten-speaker sound system and the sunroof to any version of the car. Those who buy the 3s Sport or 3s Grand Touring can also choose to add the Technology package, which includes satellite radio, a navigation system, keyless ignition, automatic bi-xenon headlights, windshield wipers that come on automatically in the rain, and LED taillights.
Performance & Handling
As far as power and fuel consumption go, the 2011 MAZDA3 competes well with similar cars without dominating them. The 2.0-liter engine offers 148 hp and 135 lb-ft of torque.
Anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, and traction control all come as standards on the Mazda MAZDA3. Models also include active front head restraints, side curtain airbags, and front side airbags.
EPA Fuel Economy
Manual transmission, 2.0 liter engine: 25/33 mpg city/ highway
Manual transmission, 2.5-liter engine: 20/28 mpg city/highway
Automatic transmission, 2.0 liter engine: 24/33 mpg city/highway
Automatic transmission, 2.5 liter engine: 22/29 mpg city/highway
- Excellent gas mileage
- Range of models and options
You Won't Like
- Less interior space than competing models
- Less cargo room than competing models
Great gas mileage for a low price
If You Like This Vehicle
- Honda Civic
- Toyota Corolla
- Hyundai Elantra Touring