The Mazda 3 sedan competes in a very competitive compact sedan segment and offers the fun to drive and sporty appeal that lacks in what is a mundane and daily driver segment. Mazda offers an impressive range of four-cylinder engines that range from being frugal to being very potent. The interior and exterior designs are one of the best in the segment and the premium materials and build quality along with the available AWD makes it stand out in the segment.
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Pricing and Features
Engine and Performance
Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide
Amongst the more affordable and frugal rivals, Mazda hasn’t managed to garner large sales volumes in the recent past, but with a complete overhaul as recent as the 2019 model year and the addition of new-age driver aids for the 2021 model year, it is all set to offer immense value to its buyers. The prices begin at an MSRP of $21,645 as it competes against the stalwarts like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, and Kia Forte.
7.0/10 Engine and Performance
7.0/10 Fuel Economy
2021 Mazda 3 Features
The 2021 Mazda 3 is offered in four major trims with the base trim available with the larger 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine as well for an added premium of just $1,000 which is standard on the other trims. Apart from the base trim, all other trims also offer an optional AWD system which is pretty for the segment. There are plenty of features loaded from lower down the trim ladder and the higher trims add more convenience and premium features to the mix.
Dusk Sensing LED Headlamps
2.5L, 186 hp & 186 lb-ft inline-4 engine
8 -Way Power Driver Seat
Adaptive Front-lighting System
Lane Departure Warning
Blind Spot Warning
SiriusXM Satellite Radio
3 Months Of Paid Satellite Radio Service
8-speaker audio system
Leather Steering Wheel
Multi-Level Heating Front Seats
12-speaker Bose audio system
Adaptive Cruise Control
Dual Zone Front Climate Control
Black Metallic-finish Front Grille
Power-sliding Glass Sunroof
Rear View Camera
Tilt And Telescopic Steering Wheel
18-inch Alloy Wheels
16-inch Alloy Wheels
Which trim should you buy?
Although the higher trims add a lot of creature comforts to the mix, it also appreciates the cost quite a bit. Therefore, it is recommended to opt for the Select trim which is also the most popular trim, as it is powered by a larger and powerful engine and also offers a lot of functionality.
2021 Mazda 3 Engine and Performance
Mazda has always prioritized performance in almost all their cars and with the new age high-performance focus, the 2021 Mazda 3 sedan now can be had with a choice of 3 different engines. The base 2.0-liter naturally aspirated engine is rated for a modest 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque, while the larger 2.5-liter unit produces 186 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. The more potent 2.5-liter turbo-4 generates a thumping 227 hp and 310 lb-ft, and all the engines are paired up with a 6-speed automatic transmission which powers the front wheels as standard.
The performance from the base engine is pretty decent as well, taking just over 8 seconds to achieve 60 mph. The 2.5-liter engine however manages to do the same in about 7 seconds while the turbocharged engine does a 0-60 mph sprint in blistering quick 6.1 seconds. A manual transmission is offered with the Mazda 3 hatchback but that is not the case with the sedan. No matter the powertrain, the top speed is limited to 130 mph for all the trims.
Mazda 3 Base 2.0
Honda Civic LX
Hyundai Elantra SE IVT
Toyota Corolla L
2.0L, Naturally Aspirated Inline-4
2.0L, Naturally Aspirated Inline-4
2.0L, Naturally Aspirated Inline-4
1.8L, Naturally Aspirated Inline-4
155 hp @ 6,000 rpm
158 hp @ 6,500 rpm
147 hp @ 6,200 rpm
139 hp @ 6,100 rpm
150 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
138 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
126 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm
0-60 mph (sec)
Quarter Mile (sec)
Top Speed (mph)
The 2021 Mazda is one of the more affordable compact sedans and yet does not compromise much in terms of performance as well. The Hyundai Elantra is the most affordable sedan here but the lack of power results in slightly slower acceleration performance. That being said, the Toyota Corolla is the slowest of the lot due to the underpowered engine on offer. Honda Civic is the priciest one here but it too is marginally slower than the Mazda.
How does the 2021 Mazda 3 Sedan handle?
Mazda has a great reputation for building sporty everyday cars at affordable prices, but in wake of making the car more rounded, the Mazda 3 has lost the youthful charm that it once had. No doubt the car is still pretty fun to drive, it loses out its edge over the cars like the Honda Civic Si and the Volkswagen Jetta GLI.
The steering offers a decent amount of feedback is light and direct in calibration which although makes it easy to drive in city traffic doesn’t offer much weight at high speeds. The suspension is very well tuned and is comfortable in most driving conditions. The chassis is pretty agile and stays composed in the corners, but the standard tires struggle for grip and the base engine feels underpowered and the driver feels left wanting for more grunt.
2021 Mazda 3 Braking Performance
The 2021 Mazda 3 employs large disc brakes on all four corners and does a great job of stopping the car at a solid braking distance of 112 feet in the 60-0 mph panic situation.
In spite of the Mazda 3 weighing over 3,000 lbs, the braking performance is pretty good. The brake pedal feels firm and is progressive as well, making it easy to judge the braking in daily driving conditions.
Brake Rotors - Front (in)
Brake Rotors - Rear (in)
Curb Weight (lbs)
60-0 mph (ft)
Honda Civic is the lightest sedan here and employs decent-sized brake rotors which result in an exceptional braking performance that is on par with the Mazda. The Toyota Corolla weighs a bit more than the Civic and also has smaller brakes, which translates to a longer braking distance of about 2 feet. The Hyundai Elantra struggles in this regard as it has the longest stopping distance of the segment.
2021 Mazda 3 Fuel Economy
The base engine may not offer great performance but is pretty frugal in nature, returning 31 mpg in combined city and highway driving conditions. The larger 2.5-liter engine is rated for 26/35/30 in the city/highway/combined conditions while the mighty turbo-4 engine is rated for 23/32/27 by the EPA. The 13.2-gallon fuel tank is decent for the segment and offers a driving range of over 350 miles even with the less frugal 2.5-liter turbocharged engine.
Fuel Tank Capacity (gal)
Range (City / Highway / Combined) (miles)
370 / 475 / 419
372 / 471 / 409
462 / 602 / 518
396 / 502 / 436
Even the base and least powerful engine of the Mazda 3 sedan isn’t even close to the frugality offered by its rivals. The Hyundai Elantra is by far the most frugal one in the segment and the larger gas tank results in a class-leading driving range of about 500 miles on a single tank of gas. Both the Honda Civic and Corolla have identical fuel efficiency ratings but the Civic needs more frequent visits to the gas station due to the marginally smaller fuel tank capacity.
2021 Mazda 3 Interior
The cabin of the Mazda 3 feels extremely premium, especially for a compact sedan. Most of the touchpoints are either made of soft-touch plastics or are covered in leather, and the build quality too is on par with the Germans. The design is simple and elegant and is one of the most appealing cabins in the segment, if not the most attractive one. The seats are very comfortable and supportive and the perforated leather upholstery on the Premium trim feels just exceptional.
In terms of cabin space, at the front people of all sizes can fit in rather comfortably and although we understand it is a compact sedan, the space at the back is pretty limited. The legroom is tight and taller passengers will find it difficult for one long journey. The trunk capacity too is just average for the segment at 13.2 cu-ft but rear seats can be folded down when needed. The cabin storage spots are limited and not the best and the base trim even misses out on the rear center armrest with cup holders, while the sunglasses holder in the overhead compartment is limited to just the top trims.
Front Row (Head / Shoulder / Leg) (in)
38.0 / 55.7 / 42.3
39.3 / 57.0 / 42.3
40.6 / 56.5 / 42.3
38.3 / 54.0 / 42.0
Rear Row (Head / Shoulder / Leg) (in)
37.3 / 53.5 / 35.1
37.1 / 55.0 / 37.4
37.3 / 55.6 / 38.0
37.1 / 51.7 / 34.8
Trunk Capacity (cu-ft)
Both the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla offer similar cabin and luggage space with hardly any differences between the two. Hyundai Elantra feels the most spacious here, offering plenty of headroom and legroom for both the front seat and rear seat occupants. That being said, the Honda Civic has a pretty similarly sized cabin but offers class-leading boot space. Though none of the rivals offer the build and materials quality as good as the Mazda 3.
8-way power driver seat with power lumbar support and 2-position memory
Heated Front Sport Seats
60-40 Folding Bench Fold Forward Rear Seat
Leather Seat Trim and Leatherette Upholstered Dashboard & Door Trim Insert
Tilt/Telescoping Leather Steering Wheel
Dual Zone Front Automatic Air Conditioning
What’s there to keep you entertained in the 2021 Mazda 3?
Mazda offers the vertically oriented 8.8-inch infotainment system as standard across the range and that is a great thing for low-budget buyers. And although this variant of Mazda connects ditches the touchscreen controls, the rotary control with control buttons is fairly intuitive to use.
Though the lack of colors in the system makes it feel dated, the list of standard features is pretty impressive. The navigation system is an optional extra for $450 even with the Premium trim and the Bose audios system is really the greatest as well.
8.8-inch MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system
12-speaker Bose premium audio system
SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month trial subscription
Mazda navigation system w/3-year Traffic and Travel Link trial
Traffic sign recognition
HD Radio and Pandora internet radio
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility
Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming
Voice command and mobile 911 automatic emergency notification
The smooth and flowing curves that embody Mazda’s Kodo "Soul of Motion" design language provides a very clean and classy appeal to the car.
The sleek headlights and large front grille look striking. The chrome trim, larger 18-inch bright finish alloy wheels, moonroof, and adaptive headlights all add the premium feel of the car.
Curb Weight (lbs)
Ground Clearance (in)
The Honda Civic is one of the smaller sedans of the segment and is also the lightest, the Hyundai Elantra is the longest and widest in this comparison. The longer wheelbase of the Elantra opens up more space on the inside. The Civic has the highest ground clearance to offer while the Toyota Corolla rides the lowest to the ground.
Automatic Projector Beam LED Auto-Leveling, Directionally Adaptive, Auto High-Beam, Daytime Running Lights Preference Setting Headlamps
Rain Detecting Variable Intermittent Wipers
Power Side Mirrors w/Tilt Down and Turn Signal Indicator
Black Grille, Side Windows Trim, and Front Windshield Trim
Express Open/Close Sliding And Tilting Sunroof w/Sunshade
Mazda has always been at the forefront in terms of the safety provided and the 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA and the “Top Safety Pick+” award from the IIHS is a testament to that. Add to that the additional new age driver aids that Mazda has added for the 2021 model year, the 3 has become safer than ever. There are plenty of safety and driver assistance features on offer, most of which are standard across the lineup, a highlight of which is listed below.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Driveline Traction Control
Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Departure Warning
Blind Spot Monitoring
Smart Brake Support (SBS)
Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
Tire Specific Low Tire Pressure Warning
2021 Mazda 3 Competition
2021 Mazda 3 Sedan vs Honda Civic
The market favorite of the segment, the Honda Civic is one of the biggest rivals for Mazda 3 from its homeland. While the 3 sedan is more affordable than the Civic with very little difference between the two in terms of performance and handling, the Civic is more frugal and reliable.
The cabin is more spacious and the Civic also has a larger trunk on offer. That being said, Mazda offers a more premium cabin with plenty of features on offer. Therefore, it is a matter of priorities, if space is more important than features and quality, Civic is the one for you.
2021 Mazda 3 Sedan vs Hyundai Elantra
The low cost and feature loaded nature of Hyundai Elantra has created quite a fan following for itself in the market. The acceleration performance is pretty much similar to the Mazda but the fuel efficiency is the best in the market.
The Mazda 3 has a more premium cabin and superior braking performance, the Hyundai Elantra is far more spacious. Since the compact segment is all about affordability and value, Hyundai Elantra seems like a logical choice between the two.
2021 Mazda 3 Sedan vs Toyota Corolla
Another crowd favorite and fellow Japanese rival, the Toyota Corolla signifies dependability and safety to many buyers all over the world. And although the Corolla is marginally less expensive than the Mazda 3, the Mazda offers much impressive acceleration and braking performance.
The Corolla has frugality going for it, but the 3 offers a bit more spacious rear seat and a well built premium cabin with plenty of technology and safety features on offer. Therefore, in our opinion the Mazda 3 offers more value for money than the Corolla.
2021 Mazda 3 Final Verdict
The Mazda 3 sedan has evolved a lot over the years and although it has created a special place in the heart of the purists, it struggles to excel in any particular aspect. Though the cabin has a premium design and build, the space is limited at the rear. The base engine isn’t very entertaining and the more potent engines hikes the prices up and further reduces frugality. Therefore, the 2021 Mazda 3 is what we like to call the jack of all trades, but master of none.