Disclosure: I am not a car person; I don’t review cars for a living. But I am a mom who is concerned about the safety of her family, is budget conscience and also takes pride in have a cool “mom-mobile. ” All opinions and views with regard to this car review, the company that loaned it to me or the vehicle manufacturer are entirely mine and were not influenced, edited or even reviewed by the companies prior to posting.
My family is discussing getting a new car. Last week, I had the opportunity to test drive a 2013 Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring and I may never go back to driving a SUV again! I was curious about the award winning safety standards and fuel economy. Is this car really that different (or any better) from my current car? One word: YES!
When the Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring arrived at my house, I had to smile. It looks friendly, sporty and…happy. (It kind of looks like the car is smiling at you. ) And while this red 4-door sedan with a black leather interior may not be the image that I conjure in my mind whenever I consider a “Mom” car, after testing this sweet automobile, I may need to permanently change my stereotype.
My initial interaction with the Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring was trying to figure out how to start the car via the keyless ignition which, of course, I had no idea how to use. (Hey! My current car is almost 10 years old! They still made keys back then!) Yes, I will admit that it took me a few minutes to figure out that the driver must step on the brake and then push a button to get the car started. Once I got the car started, I noticed all of the buttons on the steering wheel.
The steering wheel is equipped with a “Steering-wheel-integrated button for the Multi-Information Display (MID).” Here’s what that means: The Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring is also equipped with Bluetooth hands-free capabilities which allowed me to access the phone via voice commands and control the sound system from the steering wheel. The overall effect? This driver kept her hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while listening to great alternative music and discussing dinner options with her travel weary spouse (who happened to be in Miami at the time.) I also never struggled to access the GPS system because it is located just above the dashboard and in the driver’s natural line of sight. It was so easy to keep track of where I was going without needing to take my eyes off of the road.
The Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring is a commuter’s best friend and a dream car because it is so comfortable and easy to drive. When Adam and I had to drive from the suburbs to downtown Chicago last Friday night, we were dreading the hour plus drive during rush hour. But the Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring made the ride enjoyable. (The company wasn’t too bad either.) We were comfortable and felt like we had plenty of leg and head room. Note: I didn’t take advantage of the Skyactiv Drive 6- Speed A/T with manual shift mode (I kept the car in “D”), but Adam seemed to dig using the manual transmission option. He felt that it was a great feature on the car and made the car run efficiently.
Safety: How Safe Is It?
Let’s start with something called the “BSM” or Blind Spot Monitor. The BSM is located on the side-view mirrors and an icon appears whenever another car enters the driver’s “blind spot” indicating that it is not safe to switch lanes. As someone who consistently looks over her shoulder prior to switching lanes (thus taking my eyes off of the road) this safety feature is a huge benefit to me. We also learned that a chime will go off if you select your turn signal and the BSM is showing; another way that the car alerts you of potential (and avoidable) danger.
Other unique great safety features include:
- 5 Passenger 3 point Safety belts (I have to admit that my car only has 4 passenger 3 point belts.)
- Active Front Headrests: Active front head restraints help guard against neck injury in the event of a rear-end collision. During a rear impact, the front head restraint moves forward when the occupant is pushed into the seat back and helps minimize whiplash.
Adaptive Front-Lighting System: the road is illuminated in front of you to help spot potential dangers. With the available Adaptive Front-Lighting System (AFS) the headlight beam automatically swivels in the direction the driver wants to go based on vehicle speed and steering angle, improving visibility while cornering at night. This was a GREAT added feature especially when I had to drive down those dark suburban streets at night.
Say Goodbye to Gas Station Visits!
If you’re not convinced that this is a GREAT car based solely on the safety features, check out the fuel economy. With the Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring, weekly visits to the gas startion are a thing of the past. The car gets 40 Highway MPG and 28 City MPG mileage! The guys at STI dropped the car off with a full tank of gas. When they picked it up a week later, I had put more than 150 miles on the car but the gas tank barely registered at a half tank. Talk about getting the “best bang for your buck!” More like a few thousand dollars in savings. If I had driven my car for the week, I would have filled up the gas tank at least once! .
Is There Enough Storage Space For My Family?
But this is a compact size car, right? Since becoming a parent, I am always astounded by how much “stuff” we need to keep in the car. Yes, we are now past the jogging and regular stroller days but don’t discount how much space is needed for the ice skates, soccer ball(s), Hebrew homework bag, art work coming home from school and non-disposable grocery bags we carry for the daily trips to Trader Joe’s. Fortunately, the Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring can accommodate my family’s storage demands-with room to spare. Even better? Once the trunk is closed, one cannot peer in and see our vast collection of “priceless” grocery bags. Seriously, this is a great safety feature that many SUVs lack.
I loved driving the Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring because it was easy to drive, comfortable and above all, (I felt) safer than most of the cars on the road. My daughter didn’t enjoy it as much because she had to sit in the backseat and felt that it didn’t have enough legroom. (Maybe what was sacrificed in backseat legroom was made up in cargo storage space?) So, while my family may not be ready for the Mazda3 I 4-Door Grand Touring right now, in about a year or two (when she can travel in the front seat) we can absolutely consider buying the 2015 or 2016 iteration of this car. Yes, it is that comfortable, safe, fuel efficient and affordable.