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The Mazda3 is back for 2010 with a new face and a new attitude. While the new styling may be a turn off for some drivers, we think an equal number of drivers will enjoy the new look.
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Like the previous model, the 2010 Mazda3 features very good public roads manners. The suspension damps out bumps in the road, while the nimble handling will let you dodge deeper potholes.
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2.5-liter four cylinder
The 5-door Mazda3 is available with a single option 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The 4-door model also has access to a 2.0-liter model.
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Fit and finish
The fit and finish on the Mazda3 makes the vehicle feel more grown up than its predecessor, in spite of its more youthful looks.
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Leather trimmed interior
Our Grand Touring model featured an interior trimmed in leather and high quality plastics.
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Steering wheel controls
Steering wheel controls play a large role in the Mazda3's cabin tech. For example, both the GPS and the hands-free calling system can only be accessed via controls on its spokes.
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The instrument cluster has been reduced to two analog gauges with the fuel gauge and trip computer being relegated to a small LCD between them.
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Center mounted displays
At the top of the dash are a pair of screens, one color and one monochromatic. The monochrome screen displays basic audio source information, as well as climate control info. The color screen shows fuel economy, service interval, and detailed audio data.
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When equipped with the Technology package, the color screen also displays turn-by-turn GPS navigation data.
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Most of the navigation functions are only accessible when the vehicle is stopped, which is good because the control scheme requires a good deal of visual attention.
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Addresses and points of interest are input character by character using a rocker switch located on the steering wheel. An auto complete function keeps the process from becoming too tedious.
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Points of interest are grouped intuitively and can be searched.
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10-speaker Bose audio
A 10-speaker Bose audio system includes a powered subwoofer in the rear-storage area and a CenterPoint fill speaker that improves audio staging.
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In the center console, an auxiliary input and an additional 12-volt power outlet can be found. A dealer installed iPod cable can also be found in the glove compartment, if so equipped.
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The five-speed-automatic transmission is quite good compared with the automatic offerings of its competitors, yet we'd still have liked to have seen a sixth gear for even better fuel economy.
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Equipped with the automatic tranny, the Mazda eeks out 22 city and 29 highway mpg--which isn't exactly stellar. Equip it with a manual gearbox and you'll lose one highway mpg.
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The 3 is available in PZEV flavor for states with stricter emission laws. Fuel economy stays the same, while emissions (and power) go down.
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Lots of space
One of the best reasons to chose a 5-door variant is the additional utility of the hatchback.
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Unlike most cars we test, we had an opportunity to test the Mazda3 around town, on a long road trip, and on the track. The 3 impressed us on public roads, but disappointed on the track.