The 2018 Mazda 3 is Mazda’s compact car and currently the smallest sedan the company offers. It slots below the larger Mazda6 sedan and is offered in both sedan and hatchback body styles.
In its fourth year on the market, the current-generation Mazda3 is receiving its first major update for the 2018 model year. In addition to new styling, the 2018 Mazda3 receives several new tech features, including an electronic parking brake on higher trims, enhanced active safety systems including blind spot monitoring and lane keeping, and full-color, high-resolution digital information screens in the instrument cluster. Also new on the Mazda3 is “G-Vectoring Control,” software that makes tiny adjustments to engine output while cornering to create a smoother ride and reduce the amount of corrections you make in the steering wheel during a turn. Other updates include additional interior and exterior colors and new alloy wheel styles.
The Mazda3’s powertrain is mostly unchanged for 2018, save for some refinements to the engine and automatic transmission computers for smoother , more linear response. Engine choices continue to be a 2.0-liter I-4 making 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque or a 2.5-liter I-4 making 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft. Both drive the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Sedans with the 2.0-liter engine get 29-30 mpg city and 41 mpg highway, depending on transmission. Sedans with the 2.5-liter engine get 25-29 mpg city and 37-40 mpg highway depending on transmission. Hatchbacks for the 2016 model year with the 2.0-liter engine get 29-30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway depending on transmission, while hatchbacks with the 2.5-liter engine get 26-28 mpg city and 35-39 mpg highway depending on transmission; the 2017 model hasn’t yet been rated.
Already an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, the updated Mazda3 with further bolster its safety credentials with an improved camera system better at detecting pedestrians and able to see further down the road. The camera system, which continues to be optional, will also be able to recognize road signs and displays some information in the instrument cluster. Likewise improved is the automatic emergency braking system.
Also new for 2018 is a blind spot monitoring system and a lane keeping system, which can gently steer the car back into its lane. These features, the latest addition to the “i-ActivSense” suite of driver aides, are optional.
When fully equipped with optional safety equipment, the 2016 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback were both given five-out-of-five star overall ratings from the NHTSA. Each received five stars for front and side crashes and four stars for rollover crashes. Likewise, the IIHS awarded both the sedan and hatchback its top Good ratings across the board for crash safety. Its old automatic braking system received an Advanced rating, which could improve to Superior with the new system. In the low-speed test, the previous Mazda3 automatically braked and avoided a collision entirely. In the high-speed test, it did not reduce the vehicle’s speed prior to impact. Neither the IIHS nor NHTSA had tested a 2018 Mazda3 at the time of this writing.