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2019 Mazda3 Sedan Review: Fun, Sporty & Affordable

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2019 Mazda3 Sedan
Overall Impression
Stylish & affordable.
Good safety features.
Nice Interior
All-Wheel Drive
Driving Dynamics
Cabin Noise
Small Backseat
AC Needs More Power

The Mazda3 was good before, but it gets upgrades that lift it higher in the compact sedan segment. For 2019, the Mazda3 continues with its already sharp driving dynamics, and gains the 2.5-liter engine as standard equipment across all trims. Mazda has also made all-wheel drive an option this year, a bonus for customers living in cold weather climates who need extra grip. This week, we’ve been driving the 2019 Mazda3 sedan with the Premium Package and all-wheel drive.

Mazda3: What’s New For 2019?

The Mazda 3 is fully redesigned for 2019 and remains the brand’s best-selling vehicle. The aforementioned 2.5-liter engine is standard now, ensuring all models will have plenty of power. Safety systems for 2019 include Smart City Brake Support and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert among others. Trim levels include Select, Preferred, and Premium, along with a Hatchback option.  

Related: A brief overview of the 2020 Mazda3.

Features & Options: Just Enough For The Drive 

The 2019 Mazda3 Premium all-wheel drive ($27,900) comes standard with LED headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights; a rearview camera, push-button start, 60/40-split folding rear seat, and an 8.8-inch central display. Tech treatments include Bluetooth, voice commands, and an eight-speaker audio system with HD radio and two USB ports. 

Other features include 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. Additional safety features on our tester included forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking; a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert; adaptive cruise control, a driver attention monitor, automatic high beam control, and lane keeping assist.

The top-trim Premium package adds adaptive headlights, a sunroof, heads-up display, leather upholstery, and paddle shifters for models with the automatic transmission. Total MSRP including destination: $30,930. By comparison, the 2019 Mazda3 starts at $21,000. 

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2019 Mazda3 sedan.

Interior Highlights: Clean & Uncluttered 

The new Mazda 3’s interior is clean with mostly quality materials and an overall solid fit and finish. The white interior with bald trim is especially attractive but it could be hard to keep the leather seats clean. This tester came loaded with a power driver’s seat (w/memory) and heated front seats for extra winter comfort. We settled in and found the controller-based interface is one of the best we’ve seen. Everything is uncomplicated in the new sedan, as controls and buttons are easy to see and understand. It doesn’t take long to find and select a function.

We could easily find the perfect driving position and visibility is descent out the front and sides for a compact sedan. The Mazda3 comes with a blind-spot monitor, rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera as standard, making it easier to navigate and detect objects out of your normal view. 

The 3’s roofline has a steep rake, so our passengers this week needed to duck to get into the back. They said rear legroom and headroom was a bit tight as we took a ride to lunch. I had to keep my front seat pushed up more than usual to accommodate their longer legs. Mazda wanted sleeker styling but rear passengers pay the price. Overall, however, we would give the cabin high marks at least up front, and this Premium upgrade comes with features found in more expensive cars. It’s a comfortable place to spend your commute. 

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2019 Mazda3 sedan interior layout.

2019 Mazda3: Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine produces 186 horsepower and an equal 186 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine is standard with Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus, a series of motion control technologies to increase steering response and handling. 

EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 25/33 city/highway and 28 combined with all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive models improve to 26/35 city/highway and 30 combined. Our all-wheel drive tester came with cylinder deactivation which helps increase fuel economy. 

Driving Dynamics: Sporty & Stable 

Getting underway revealed a sporty ride and the dynamics from Mazda we’ve come to expect. The ride is comfortable, even at highway speeds, and the seats are supportive. Driving in the mountains west of Denver gave us the opportunity to push the sedan hard in the curves. The driving characteristics of the 2019 Mazda3 did not disappoint us either. The handling is crisp, and the steering offers up a light but engaging feel thanks to the G-Vectoring technology. However, with Denver’s temperatures in the high 90s this week, we cranked up the A/C but felt the climate control needed more power to sufficiently cool the cabin.

Related: 2019 Mazda3: Two flavors and plenty of extras.

The 2.5-liter powerplant is naturally-aspirated and is eager to deliver from the onset, but it really gets going from the middle of the rev range. We had no problem merging onto the highway even with heavy traffic. We did notice quite a bit of road noise at higher speeds, despite Mazda saying they included additional sound insulation for 2019. In the city, we needed to make a U-turn and the Mazda3 has a quick-turning radius, making it easy to navigate parking lots and busy streets. But when the road gets curvy is when the fun begins in this sedan! The transmission even offers a sport mode which makes the car more responsive in the curves. 

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Driving Dynamics: Confident Cruiser

The 2019 Mazda3 will give a driver confidence as the car feels safe at higher speeds. We liked the 2.5-liter’s power, of course, but it feels stable as the suspension and transmission pair well with the larger engine. We didn’t test it through snow or over ice, but the available all-wheel drive gave the sedan more stability on the dirt roads we drove.

Conclusion: Definitely One To Consider 

For those looking for an upscale, affordable, fuel-efficient, fun-to-drive, small sedan or hatchback, the 2019 Mazda3 should be on your shopping list. It’s especially attractive now with the all-wheel drive option and new engine.

Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy

2019 Mazda3 Sedan Gallery

Photos: Mazda North American Operations.