Drive Shop USA gave me the opportunity to drive this spectacularly cool car for a week so that I would share my honest opinion with you. Cool, right? I know!
Every time I climb into a Mazda, I think to myself, “Why don’t I see way, way more Mazdas on the road?” (because I totally, totally should) and “How come Mazda tends to fly under the radar when I consider buying a new car?” (I don’t know why, honestly, because I love every single one I’ve ever driven.) And then, obviously, “Why am I having a conversation with myself?”
I recently climbed behind the wheel of a 2016 Mazda3 S 5-Door Grand Touring. I’m familiar with Mazda, of course (I’ve driven the 2016 CX 5, the 2013 Mazda3 Grand Touring Minivan, the 2012 Mazda3, and the 2015 Mazda3 Grand Touring), and I think their vehicles are amazing. It was, however, my first hatchback (it wasn’t as earth-shattering as you’re thinking, or as I thought it would be).
It was also the first time I drove a car and didn’t think, “Well, it’s nice…but it’s a car. And I like SUVs (or crossovers at least). If I wanted a car, though, I’d definitely consider this.” Yes, the Mazda3 Grand Touring is a car (obviously) but it doesn’t for a minute make me feel like, “Eh, it’s a car. Can’t make that transition.”
Truth be told, this is, without question, a car I would consider purchasing — if I didn’t have a dog. But that’s a personal preference thing. I just would prefer to put a German Shepherd (even if she is on the petite side) into the backseat of a SUV (or crossover). That being said, if I were living in a two-car household, or had a smaller dog, or, God forbid, no dog at all (bite your tongue!), then the 2016 Mazda3 S Grand Touring would absolutely be in play.
This car is a smooth, smooth ride. It handles so well (smooth, folks, smooth) and is beautifully responsive. Now it’s not like a high-powered race car (obviously, let’s not get carried away here) but the 184 horsepower gives this car the quickness and power that suits it perfectly. You just feel like you’re gliding along. It makes me dread getting back in my own car.
I currently drive a 9-year-old crossover. It’s pretty “basic,” as the kids say. But it gives me a true appreciation for stuff like, ya know, features. Oh, the blessed features. *sigh*
Like leather-trimmed, heated sport seats. Very comfortable. And roomy. Obviously, they can make you feel a tad toasty when the heat index is hovering around 113 degrees, but that goes without saying. I’d much rather have these supple leather seats than my scratchy fabric seats that stay toasty. (Unless it’s cold out, of course.) Luckily, the Mazda3 S Grand Touring has dual-zone automatic climate control, so I was chillin’ in no time. (I’m pretty sure the kids are still dropping the “g,” right?)
The seats are nice and comfortable (and of course you can adjust them about 374 ways til Sunday to make them perfect for you) and there’s nice leg room. I had one front-seat passenger who was 6-2, and he had no problem getting comfortable.
These features almost seem “standard” these days, but I wanted to be sure to show them. You’re getting the whole package with this car. They didn’t mess around with the 2016 Mazda3 S Grand Touring , my friends.
Sure, these controls might not blow your hair back, but believe it or not, these are the little things that matter…but ones you might not give a lot of thought to. I already mentioned the heated seats and the dual-zone climate control (two HUGE features, in my opinion). At the bottom, though, you’ll see an old-fashioned contraption that we old folks call a “CD player.” Yeah, go ahead and laugh.
Believe it or not, you don’t always find CD players in cars today. (I swear!) That might not matter to everyone but I have like 200 CDs, so it matters to me. And my brother (who’s in his 30s) has tons of CDs as well. So does my mom. There are plenty of us out here with CDs. It only makes sense to be able to use them in the car! So, yeah, pretty happy about this feature. I’m not kidding.
I love the console. (It’s the little things that make me happy.) It’s nice and roomy, with everything laid out in a logical and user-friendly manner. The cup holders are perfect, big and roomy and right at your fingertips.
This might sound crazy but, boy oh boy, this console makes me happy. It’s big, which is great, because I’m borderline hoarding in my car. (I wish I were kidding.) What do you need? Tissue? Napkin? Lip gloss? A mint? Gum? Salt? Splenda? Band-Aid? Cough drop, perhaps? How about a brush? Extra pair of sunglasses? Pen? I don’t even know why I have all of this in my car, but I do. Oh, I also have dog treats. And crackers. A lint roller! That’s not an exhaustive list, but I’m pretty sure you get the idea. But its roominess is not my favorite aspect…it’s the USB ports. Two of them. Two. And a cigarette lighter. Did I mention the USB ports? Both of them? Oh man.
You’ll experience rain-sensing windshield wipers (which is an awesome feature). And heated power side mirrors. Auto On/Off Bi-Xenon headlights. An adaptive front-lighting system. Active driving display, which is super cool and convenient. Rearview camera, obvs. (That’s still a “thing,” isn’t it? I hope so.)
Ohhhh, an auto-dim homelink rearview mirror. The Mazda navigation system, a Bose 9-speaker centerpoint audio system, and Bluetooth (which connects so quick, your head will spin…definitely the best I’ve ever experienced), Sirius XM, Pandora, Aha, and Stitcher audio. I was quite happy with the audio system.
Let’s talk about the backseat. It’s not exactly what I’d call overly roomy. But it’s not nonexistent, either. (I’ve driven a car with a backseat more spacious than my kitchen, and that kinda ruined me for all other backseats. I’m not kidding.) It has a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, along with an armrest with cupholder. The back window is smaller than I’m used to (I imagine because the Mazda3 is a hatchback), but it wasn’t difficult to adjust.
So, here I am, standing at 5-foot-8, thinking, “Whoa. There’s no way I can squeeze into that backseat.” (I really thought that.) Then I thought, “Might as well try, right? It might be funny to find out how insanely tight the backseat is.” And then it wasn’t. I mean, I wasn’t like, “Whoa, maybe I’ll kick back and put my legs up,” but I wasn’t like, “For the love of God, get the jaws of life and extract me from this sardine can.”
Would I be willing to sit in the back for, say, a 420-mile drive? Yes. (For the sake of full disclosure, 420 miles is roughly the distance to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, home of my beloved World Champion Cavaliers — which happens to be the only serious road trip I’m willing to take. But I digress.) I’d obviously rather be a child or petite, but it’s still do-able for me. Not sure a 6-2 passenger would be able to swing it, though.
One last thing — I initially saw the windows in the backseat and thought, “Holy moly, they’re small. How the heck will I even be able to see out the window?” Well, they’re not all that small, and seeing out the window was no issue at all. Obviously, you won’t be hanging out the window, but you shouldn’t be doing that in the first place.
The trunk is pleasantly roomy. It’s a good size, plain and simple. I could easily fit a healthy grocery haul in there, no question. Maybe even with room to spare. To provide some frame of reference, I snapped a picture of my two bags of Goodwill donations in the trunk. This is plenty of trunk for me.
With the 2016 Mazda3 S 5-Door Grand Touring, you get keyless entry and push-button start. Of course. But you also get 24-hour roadside assistance, anti-theft engine immobilizer, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, tire-pressure monitoring system, hill launch assist, and more airbags than you can count. The Mazda3 gets 37 mpg on the highway, and 27 mpg in the city. Whoa, buddy. I don’t even want to tell you what I’m currently getting (it’s embarrassing), but 31 mpg combined city/highway sure as heck works for me. It’s also very well-rated when it comes to safety. The overall vehicle score? Five stars.
The 2016 Mazda3 S Grand Touring? Safe. Sleek. Smart. Sporty. Sophisticated.
Wait. Is that what the “S” stands for?
P.S. I LOVE (LIKE LOVE LOVE) THIS CAR! LOOK AT THAT BEAUTY!