2019 Mazda3 Review: A Massive Improvement, But There’s One Major Issue

2019 Mazda3
The 2019 Mazda3 adds sharp looks and all-wheel drive for a substantial all-around package…but there’s one major flaw.


Before we get into reviewing the 2019 Mazda3, I want you to do me a favor. Forget everything you knew about the previous models. Mazda wants you to believe this is a new era for the brand, and the major shift in styling — both inside and out — make a bold statement from the models of yesteryear. Trust me, we’ll get back to the familiarities soon enough, but let’s start from a blank slate here.

The exterior appearance is more aggressive and more refined than its counterpart. With a new nose, a chrome strip around the windows and a revised rear fascia, this 2019 Mazda3 looks a cut above most of its mainstream competition. On the inside, Mazda paid major attention to the small details that make this car a pleasant place to be. Over about 90 percent of this car, the new model nails it in both setting itself apart from the competition and fixing the problems present in the outgoing version.

And yet, I have one major issue with this car.

Comfort and Convenience

It’s certainly not with the interior, however. The 2019 Mazda3 has a similar layout to the old car, but it feels totally different inside. Mazda went for a clean and minimalistic interior design, and thoughtful attention to detail is everywhere in this car. Front and center is a customizable digital instrument cluster, flanked by a set of analog gauges.

The dials are sharp and easy to read, but there is one piece of weirdness. Similar to the Mazda6, the 2019 Mazda3 has a second fuel gauge in the digital display, right next to the analog one. In our test car, they did not read the same fuel level after some driving either. You can change the settings to show different items, like range and instantaneous fuel economy, in the settings.

The steering wheel is also a massive improvement over the old model. The leather feels nice to the touch and the switches have a solid, more luxurious look and feel to them as well. Not only are all the tactile surfaces excellent, but Mazda has paid great attention to detail to making this 2019 Mazda3 quieter than its predecessors. To that end, the car is almost luxury car quiet over most road surfaces.

2019 Mazda3
This new 8.8-inch unit looks sharp, but it is no longer a touchscreen.

The new 8.8-inch touchscreen is a focal point of the new interior. It’s much sharper, more responsive and has a more logical layout than the old unit. While the old one was a touchscreen, though, this one is farther away from the driver and can only be operated through a Commander knob on the center console. Happily, this new infotainment system is standard across the range and supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Some nice touches…and some strange ones

One feature I really like in the 2019 Mazda3 is the adjustable armrest. You can use a latch under the console lid to slide it backward and forward, allowing you to adjust the support where you need it. However, you can’t actually open the console lid when it’s in the fully forward position. You have to slide it back, then lift it to gain access to the console storage. That is strange, but something you could get used to.

Mazda also moved the mid-range speakers out of the doors in this new Mazda3. Instead, there are smaller speakers as part of the 10-speaker Bose surround sound system. The speakers that were in the doors are now just below the A-pillar ahead of the doors. Hiding them out of the way opens up some more room on the door, and it ensures the doors don’t rattle when the volume is too loud.

2019 Mazda3
The seats weren’t as comfortable as I would have liked, and the car does have a ride on the firmer side.

Expect a firm ride, and firm seats

The seats in the 2019 Mazda3 look nice, but they are not the most comfortable on long trips. After about an hour, my back started aching no matter how I adjusted the seat. I’m six feet tall, and I also found the rear seats to be a pinch in the hatchback, both on leg room and head room.

When you are moving, the ride is also firmer than you may expect in cars like the Toyota Corolla, but it is remarkably well-controlled. There’s no crashing through the bumps and even rough roads here in Colorado weren’t too dramatic.

2019 Mazda3
This car does have an all-wheel drive system, but it also has a carryover engine.


Even with the well-honed ride, performance is the one major down side of the 2019 Mazda3. You know how I said, “forget everything you know” earlier? Well, this is where reality comes crashing back in on this new model. After all, you can’t forget that this 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder is a carryover from the previous generation. As before, it makes 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is your only option across much of the range, as well. You can technically get a six-speed manual, but only on the hatchback with the Premium Package. Pick a base model, or the Select (sedan only), Preferred or Premium, and the manual is completely absent.

Mind you, to balance out the single engine option, this is the first Mazda3 available with all-wheel drive. It’s available as an option on all trims but the base model sedan. Turn-in is not as crisp as I would have liked with our hatchback, but it was tough to unstick this car in the corners. Even losing the multilink rear suspension and going back to a torsion-beam rear axle, I couldn’t upset the car’s balance unless I really tried.

Fuel economy is just “eh”, particularly with the all-wheel drive model. The EPA rates our 2019 Mazda3 AWD hatchback at 24 City / 32 Highway / 27 Combined mpg. The Subaru Impreza 5-door manages up to 31 Combined mpg, while even the Mazda CX-3 gets 29 mpg. During our testing, we managed around 26 mpg in mixed driving conditions.

2019 Mazda3

TFLcar’s Take on the 2019 Mazda3

Overall, the 2019 Mazda3 is a substantial improvement over the old model. I owned a 2015 model, and this car was leaps and bounds more pleasant to live with, even for a brief time. The carryover engine is the one major gripe that spoiled the show. It provided adequate power, but for a car that’s improved in so many ways, I want better than just “adequate”.

If I can’t get more power, I want better fuel economy, and that’s where Mazda’s SkyActiv-X engine should come in. The car should have launched with this new engine, but Mazda says it will be available later this year. Depending on how that engine performs in the real world, only then would I seriously consider getting back into a Mazda3.

The base price of the 2019 Mazda3 has also increased over the previous model. Now, the sedan starts at $21,920 including destination. The hatch starts at $24,595 and our tester ran up to $31,335. All-wheel drive adds $1,400 to the price on most models. That’s pricey no matter how you slice it, and the SkyActiv-X engine likely won’t make things any cheaper when it does find its way into the Mazda3.

2019 Mazda3 Specifications

Base MSRP$21,920 (incl. destination)
Price as tested$31,335
Engine2.5-liter naturally-aspirated I-4
Power186 horsepower
Torque186 lb-ft
Transmission6-speed automatic
Drivetrain layoutAWD
Curb weight3,255 lbs. (Hatchback AWD)
Fuel Economy (EPA)23 / 33 / 28 mpg (City/Hwy/Combined)
Wheelbase107.3 inches
Ground Clearance5.5 inches
Length x Width x Height175.6 x 70.7 x 56.7 inches
Cargo Volume w/ seats folded20.1 cubic feet
Warranty3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty
5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty