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Should You Reconsider Mazda?

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author photo by Josh Sadlier May 2014

If you asked 10 automotive journalists to name their favorite maker of affordable cars, Mazda would probably get the most votes. Alas, our opinions aren't always aligned with the sales charts, and so it is with Japan's other brand, which sells exponentially fewer vehicles than household names such as Chevrolet, Ford, Honda and Toyota. The problem is that Mazda just doesn't have the advertising dollars to go toe-to-toe with those giants, so it relies on word of mouth to seal the deal. We're pleased to add our voices to the chorus: This company really does make excellent cars and crossovers, and here are three in particular that might make you reconsider the brand.

Mazda3

Redesigned for 2014, the compact Mazda3 sedan and 4-door hatchback are arguably the best small cars on the market. There's also an argument to be made for the new Volkswagen Golf, especially the fuel-efficient turbodiesel version, but the Mazda3i with the base 2.0-liter engine is actually almost as frugal (at up to 30 miles per gallon in the city and 41 mpg on the highway versus 31 mpg city/42 mpg hwy for the more expensive VW). And when it comes to sheer driving enjoyment, the Mazda3 stands alone with its taut yet supple chassis, razor-sharp steering and available bolt-action 6-speed manual transmission. Moreover, the 3's interior is vastly improved this time around, featuring high-quality materials and a sporty dashboard with an available 7-inch touchscreen that includes a rotary-knob controller. If you're shopping for a small car, the Mazda3 is an absolute must-drive.

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Mazda CX-5

If you don't remember the discontinued CX-7, you're not alone; Mazda's first attempt at a fun compact crossover was just too funky with its quick but thirsty turbocharged engine. But its successor, the new CX-5 crossover, hits all the right notes. Fuel economy is stellar, reaching 35 mpg hwy if you don't mind shifting your own gears (and a still-respectable 32 mpg if you do). The styling is a perfect mix of Mazda sleekness and SUV presence. Inside, the CX-5 provides ample room for adults front and rear despite its modest dimensions, and the materials are a cut above the norm for this segment. On the road, the Mazda fun-to-drive DNA is unmistakable, but the CX-5 also takes bumps like a champ. It's one of the best all-around vehicles for the money.

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Mazda6

Mazda's been building midsize family sedans for decades now, going back to the 626 of the 1980s, but many shoppers haven't even heard of the current Mazda6. That's a shame, because the 6 is the rare family sedan that drives like a more expensive car. It handles the road with an almost European sophistication, and its steering is one of the most responsive and best-feeling setups in any front-wheel-drive sedan. It also offers the generous back-seat and trunk space that American buyers demand, and it does so at a competitive price. There's a trend here toward great fuel economy at Mazda, and the 6 keeps it going with an amazing rating of 28 mpg city/40 mpg hwy -- almost as frugal as the smaller Mazda3. If you need the 6's extra size, don't hesitate to give it a shot alongside traditional segment leaders.

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AutoTrader Says

Mazda has an illustrious history of making entertaining, thoughtfully engineered cars that are also quite durable, and the current lineup might be the strongest yet. It's pretty neat that a small, independent carmaker can consistently crank out better cars than some of the globe-straddling behemoths in this business. Don't let this feat go unrewarded; next time you're shopping for a car or crossover, throw a Mazda into the mix. If you like to drive, it's definitely time to reconsider the Mazda brand.

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Used 2014 Mazda MAZDA2 Touring
Used 2014 Mazda MAZDA2
$8,490
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Mazda MAZDA3 i Touring Sedan
Used 2014 Mazda MAZDA3
$12,990
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2014 Mazda CX-5 FWD Grand Touring
Used 2014 Mazda CX-5
$12,994
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Used 2014 Mazda MAZDA2 Sport
Used 2014 Mazda MAZDA2
$10,100
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.
Should You Reconsider Mazda? - Autotrader