The 2016 Mazda3 continues with the bold Kodo-inspired grille, a wide stance and sculpted flanks that were introduced for the 2014 model year. It’s available as a stylish 4-door sedan or a sporty 5-door hatchback, each with its own delightful personality. Upgraded interior materials, comfortable seats and an Audi MMI-like infotainment system take cabin ambiance upscale. The Mazda3 continues to offer excellent driving dynamics, precise steering and good handling — unexpected attributes in the segment. The powertrain lineup consists of a pair of fuel-efficient SKYACTIV 4-cylinder engines, a capable 155-horsepower 2.0-liter and a 184-hp 2.5-liter. For 2016, all Mazda3 models come standard with a backup camera and automatic headlamps and rain-sensing wipers are standard on iTouring and higher trims.
The front-wheel-drive Mazda3 is the best-selling car in the Mazda lineup and an excellent choice for buyers looking for a stylish, fun-to-drive compact sedan or hatchback that’s economical to purchase and operate.
What We Like
Performance of SKYACTIV 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; precise handling; fuel economy; manual shifter; interior materials and layout; hatchback versatility
What We Don’t
Firm ride over bumps; low rear seats; short on cabin storage
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The i Sport, i Touring and i Grand Touring trims use the capable and efficient direct-injected SKYACTIV 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, which produces 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. Sedans equipped with the 6-speed automatic achieve 30 miles per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, while 6-speed manual-transmission versions return 29 mpg city/39 mpg hwy. Hatchback models with this engine get 29 mpg city/39 mpg hwy, regardless of transmission choice. This engine uses regular unleaded fuel.
Buyers looking for peppier performance should consider the s Touring and the s Grand Touring models, both of which come with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder version of the SKYACTIV engine that produces 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. The 6-speed manual version is EPA-rated at 25 mpg city/36 mpg hwy in sedans and 26 mpg city/34 mpg hwy in hatchback models. With the 6-speed automatic, sedans get a 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy rating, while hatchbacks return 27 mpg city/36 mpg hwy. On Grand Touring models with the optional i-ELOOP regenerative braking system, both sedans and hatchbacks get a 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy rating. The 2.5-liter also uses regular unleaded fuel.
Standard Features & Options
For 2016, the Mazda3 is available in i Sport, i Touring, i Grand Touring, s Touring and s Grand Touring trims.
The i Sport rolls with a standard backup camera, push-button start, a 6-speaker stereo, MazdaConnect infotainment with a 7-in touchscreen and console control wheel, HD Radio, SMS texting, Bluetooth, cloth seats, air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, USB connectivity, a trip computer, a clock, power windows, doors and mirrors, 16-in steel wheels, a split-folding rear seat and anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes. Also included are dual front, front-seat side and overhead airbags, as well as dynamic stability control with traction control.
The i Touring upgrades with a standard moonroof, fog lamps, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, handbrake handle and shifter, a center rear armrest, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a security alarm and 16-in alloy wheels.
Moving up to the i Grand Touring trim adds navigation, a 9-speaker Bose audio system, faux leather seating, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, dual-zone auto climate control, SiriusXM radio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and heated side mirrors.
Opting for s Touring trim gets you the 184-hp 2.5-liter engine, 18-in alloys, heated faux-leather front seats, paddle shifters, driver’s-side adjustable lumbar and an active driving display.
The range-topping s Grand Touring trim adds perforated leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, HomeLink and self-leveling bi-xenon headlamps. Options include radar cruise control, forward-collision warning, a lane-departure warning system, smart city brake support and i-ELOOP regenerative braking.
In 2016, the Mazda3 continued as the brand’s top-selling car, but recognition among buyers is a fraction of that enjoyed by entries from Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia and others. 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 what models are for sale in your area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the following safety recalls for Mazda3 models from 2016.
The weld for the fuel-tank recirculation pipe may leak, creating a fire risk if an ignition source is present.
The weld for the fuel-tank inlet check valve may fail, creating a possible fuel leak and a fire risk if an ignition source is present.
A malfunctioning fuel tank shut-off valve may stall the engine, increasing the risk of a crash, or leak, creating a fire risk.
A corroded parking brake actuator shaft may bind and not engage fully, increasing the risk of a crash if an unattended car is parked on a grade.
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, they’ll fix the car at no charge to you.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
The NHTSA gave the 2016 Mazda3 a 5-star rating overall, with five stars for front and side impacts and four stars for rollover resistance.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave both the 2016 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback Top Safety Pick+ designations. Both versions received Good ratings for small- and moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, head restraints and seat performance.
For 2016, the Mazda3 came 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 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 160-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
2016 Toyota Corolla — The Corolla emphasizes practicality over excitement, powered by a 132-hp 1.8-liter 4-cylinder. Rear-seat legroom is exceptionally roomy for this class. New for 2016 is Siri Eyes Free for iPhone users and a Slacker Radio App.
2016 Ford Focus — Revised for 2015 with a facelifted exterior and updated cabin, the fun-to-drive Focus continues in 2016 as a 4-door sedan or a 5-door hatchback. Engine choices include a 123-hp 1.0-liter EcoBoost 3-cylinder or a 160-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, both available with a manual or a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The sensational Focus ST model sports a manually shifted 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder but suffers from torque steer.
The bold, upscale styling of the 2016 Mazda3 turns heads, but the stylish compact remains 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, but not many people know about it. The s Touring and the s Grand Touring with the 184-hp 2.5-liter engine and 18-in wheels are the most fun to drive.
If you’ve ever wanted to try a stick-shift everyday car, you should test-drive the Mazda3 — its 6-speed manual gearbox is among the best. Always look for a low-mileage example that’s been well-maintained, and check out CPO vehicles. Ask the dealer about any possible safety recalls on the vehicle you’re considering.