Why the Hyundai Elantra?
Handling: I found the electric steering on the Elantra to provide much better response and control.
Safety & braking: The Elantra's safety rating over the past two years with the IIHS and NHTSA played a role in the decision to purchase it.
Warranty, scheduled maintenance cost: I drive 80 miles a day to work and back, totaling 19,401 per year without and extra trips. Hyundai's warranty package provide me with longer coverage.
Why Not the Mazda Mazda3?
Handling: When contrasted with the Elantra, the Mazda 3 perform in only an adequate manner. Not nearly as responsive or as tight a feel.
Safety & braking: While not bad, when stacked against the Elantra, the Mazda 3 falls short in the major categories for the IIHS and NHTSA crash tests.
Price or payments: The price difference between this and the Elantra is a few thousand dollars when looking at features. When adding extended warranties, the gap widens.
Warranty, scheduled maintenance cost: Given that I drive over 19,401 miles per year, I would have burned through the standard warranties in fairly short order.