Used Car Review

2010 Mazda3: Used Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Ron Sessions April 2016

Available as a 4-door sedan or a 5-door hatchback, the 2010 Mazda3 presents a compelling argument that small cars needn't be boring or short on features. The front-drive compact is the best-selling car in Mazda's lineup. It offers excellent driving dynamics, precise steering and good handling, which is unexpected in the segment. All new for 2010, it's available with a 148-horsepower 2.0-liter or 168-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. A limited-production Mazdaspeed3 performance model delivers thrilling performance from a 263-hp 2.3-liter 4-cylinder turbo. The smiley-face front-end look may be a little odd, but once drivers settle into the surprisingly well-kitted and attractive interior and feel, along with the 3's solid structure, sharp steering and capable body control, they'll be pleased at the level of sophistication, especially at this price point.

What We Like

Performance of 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; precise steering and body control; manual shifter; interior materials and layout; versatility of the hatchback; entertainment value of Mazdaspeed3 version

What We Don't

Smiley-face front appearance; firm ride over bumps; small navigation screen; 2.0-liter 4-cylinder lacks zip for merging and passing; mediocre fuel economy of 2.5-liter engine; severe torque steer of Mazda3 under hard acceleration

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

There are three engine choices for the Mazda3's 2010 model year.

The i SV, i Sport and i Touring models are equipped with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder rated at 148 hp and 135 lb-ft in most states and 144 hp and 132 lb-ft in West Coast and Northeastern states requiring low-emission PZEV (short for partial zero-emissions vehicle) vehicles. Both versions are rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with the standard 5-speed manual transmission and 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy with the optional 5-speed automatic. All use regular unleaded fuel.

Buyers who are looking for more zip might consider the s Sport or s Grand Touring models that come standard with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. In most states, it rolls with 167 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque but drops slightly in West Coast and Northeastern PZEV states to 165 hp and 167 lb-ft. Regardless of emission rating, the 2.5-liter gets an EPA estimate of 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with the 6-speed manual transmission and 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with the 5-speed automatic. It uses regular unleaded fuel.

The Mazdaspeed3 takes performance to the pocket-rocket level. Its turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder pumps 263 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, working solely through a 6-speed manual transmission. The Mazdaspeed3 is EPA-rated at 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy. It runs on premium unleaded fuel. All-wheel drive is not available.

Standard Features & Options

The 2010 Mazda3 is available in i SV, i Sport, i Touring, s Sport, s Grand Touring and Mazdaspeed3 trims.

The i SV is basic transportation. Standard fare includes a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, a 5-speed manual gearbox, power windows and mirrors, 16-inch steel wheels, a split folding rear seat, anti-lock braking systems, and dual-front, front-seat side and overhead airbags.

The i Sport adds air conditioning and the option of a 5-speed automatic transmission.

The i Touring brings cruise control, keyless entry, a 6-speaker stereo, stability and traction control, a security alarm and 16-in alloy wheels. Options include a 10-speaker upgraded stereo and a power moonroof.

Moving up to the s Sport trim nets the 2.5-liter engine with dual exhausts, fog lamps, a trip computer, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter and 17-in alloy wheels. Navigation is optional.

The well-equipped s Grand Touring trim adds automatic climate control, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a power driver's seat with memory, heated door mirrors, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlamps.

The hatchback-only Mazdaspeed3 comes with the 2.3-liter 4-cylinder turbo, a 6-speed manual transmission, a sport suspension, 225/40 series performance tires on 18-in wheels and most of the upgrades of the Grand Touring trim.

Pricing

The Mazda3 is the brand's top-selling car, yet recognition among buyers is a fraction of that of entries from Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Ford and Chevrolet. For this reason, a Mazda can present a relative used-car bargain if you shop around.

For a good idea of the Mazda3's price range, check out KBB.com. You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see which models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the following safety recall for Mazda3 models from 2010:

The engine wiring harness may short-circuit at the starter, blowing the main fuse and stalling the engine, which increases the risk of a crash.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA gave Mazda3 models from 2010 five stars for front impacts and driver-side impacts and four stars for passenger-side impacts and rollover resistance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Mazda3 sedan Good ratings for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts and head-restraint and seat performance. IIHS rated the Mazda3 hatchback as Good for front and side impacts but did not rate head restraints or seats.

Mazda sold Mazda3 models from 2010 with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, a 5-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion-perforation warranty and 3 years/36,000 miles of roadside assistance coverage.

Mazda's certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles can't be more than 6 years old or have more than 80,000 miles on the odometer. Every CPO Mazda3 receives a 150-point inspection. Each also receives an additional 1-year/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty on top of the remainder of the existing 3-year/36,000-mile coverage and an extension of the vehicle's original 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty to 7 years and 100,000 miles. Also included is an AutoCheck vehicle-history report and 24-hour roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2010 Toyota Corolla -- About the only thing the Corolla has in common with the Mazda3 is its compact size. Where the Mazda is sporty and fun to drive, the Corolla sedan is conservatively styled and emphasizes ride over handling. Engine choices include the 132-hp 1.8-liter and 158-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinders. For a bit more sport and cargo versatility, you should check out the Corolla Matrix wagon. It's hard to go wrong with a Corolla from a reliability or resale standpoint, though.

2010 Honda Civic -- Available as a 4-door sedan or 2-door coupe but not as a hatchback, the Civic comes closest to matching the fun-to-drive appeal of the Mazda3. The base model's 140-hp 1.8-liter 4-cylinder delivers good fuel economy, while the 197-hp, 2.0-liter-powered Si coupe and sedan cater to enthusiasts. The Civic is also available as a gas-electric hybrid.

Autotrader's Advice

The Mazda3 is one of the best-kept secrets on used-car lots. It's fun to drive, nicely outfitted inside and channels a lot of the goodness that makes the Miata such a joy behind the wheel -- but not many people know about it. We recommend going for the s Sport or s Grand Touring trim to get the much more responsive 2.5-liter engine, plus cruise control and stability and traction control. If you've ever wanted to try a stick-shift everyday car, you should try the Mazda3, as its manual gearboxes (5- or 6-speed) are among the very best-shifting in the business. Look for a low-mileage example that's been loved and maintained, and check out Mazda CPO vehicles. You should also check with the dealer to ascertain that any safety recalls have been addressed on the vehicle that you're buying.

Find a Mazda3 for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2010 Mazda3: Used Car Review - Autotrader