We could have taken my blue, beat-up Toyota Sienna minivan on our romantic getaway to Sorrel River Ranch, a luxury resort on the banks of the Colorado River in Moab. Second choice: my husband’s big, loud, white Dodge Dakota. Running circles around either of these options: Mazda’s brand-new, 2013 Mazda3 with SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY. In “velocity red.” Done!
In driving this 5-door hatchback around town for several days, as well as the 200 miles to Moab (and back), I found it fast, fun and fuel efficient. Is it the most convenient car for a mother of two, who often has other children in tow for carpools? Not really. Would it be ideal for a long road trip — or camping weekend — for our family of four? Nope. But for one kid-free weekend, when my husband were reminiscing about our dating days and first romantic getaways together 16 years ago? Perfect!
The Mazda3 gets 31 mpg (combined city/highway) and earns an 8 out of 10 for its Fuel Economy & Greenhouse Gas Rating (per fueleconomy.gov) thanks to its engine’s proprietary SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY (so important, it’s in all caps). Frankly, I don’t know enough about cars under the hood to fully grasp the engine and mechanical features. All know is that I can go farther on a gallon of gas in this car than our current ones. That means more money in my pocket and more reasons to road trip. Bonuses in my book!
Here are my other favorite aspects of the Mazda3:
Navigation and audio system: I found the included full-color touch screen navigation system with voice command easy to operate, and the SiriusXM Satellite Radio was so fun and fabulous to have on our road trip. When my kids were in the car, they were able to quickly program their iPhones into the Bluetooth feature, so they could share their playlists with me — not always my style of music, but hey, it’s a nice way to bond with tweens.
Adaptive front lighting system: With this feature, your headlights sense when you’re making a turn, and wiull adjust their angle with the car allowing you to see more of the incoming path. We tested this as we were rounding turns — noting the difference when the AFS was switched on and off (see photo at right) — and it was pretty cool to note that the adjusting headlights did allow us to view more in our path.
Blind spot monitoring system: When other cars enter your blind spot, on your left or right side, a little icon illuminates on your side view mirror (again either of them). I absolutely love this feature. I’m a fanatic about turning my head to check for oncoming cars before passing or turning, but I appreciate this extra warning that another car is nearby.
Roomy enough back seat: I actually had my husband drive the car, while I sat in the back seat behind him, to see how comfortable the back seat was. Now, as a tall woman (five-foot-nine), I didn’t have a ton of leg room behind my husband, but for short trips, I could deal. My (shorter) children in the back seat had no complaints. There are seatbelts for three in the back, and the seats fold down (one or both) to extend the cargo room in the “way back.”
Heated front seats, keyless entry and push start, and a moonroof with one-touch open are other convenient features I appreciated in the Mazda3 hatchback.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the 2013 Mazda3 5-door Grand Touring hatchback is $23,300. The technology package, which includes the Adaptive Front Lighting System and SiriusXM Satellite Radio with 4-month trial subscription, is an additional $1,500 (MSRP).
I enjoyed complimentary use of a Mazda3 for a week for purposes of editorial review.