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2012 Mazda Mazda3 Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Not the car for me... by NCDurmguy



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It has some pluses, but I can't deal with the drivetrain, the noise, and the lack of a functional back seat.

Reviewed: 2012 Mazda Mazda3

4dr Hatch 155-horsepower 2.0L I4 6-speed shiftable automatic FWD

Why the 2012 Mazda Mazda3?

Reliability & durability

I do have to hand it to this car; it's been DEAD RELIABLE. Nothing has been broken enough to warrant a trip to the shop. THe only issue I had was with the heater fan making noise, and then the heater stopped working at the end of last winter, but it is woring normally now, without a repair.

Fuel economy

I drive it on the highway at a constant speed of about 78 with the cruise control on, for my daily commute . Very little traffic on my commute, and speed limit is 70. I get about 33 mpg, or 380 miles per tank. I've found that long-range runs of an hour or more seems to burn out the gunk, and I have better fuel economy for the next week or two. I figure driving near 80 is killing the advertised 39 mpg with the Skyactiv engine.

Why Not the 2012 Mazda Mazda3?

Powertrain performance

This car has absolutely no oomph. I've had to modify my driving to accomodate the lack of power. No darting. You need to think in terms of currents in traffic, and try to figure out good flows in order to pass or get along anywhere; you will NOT be able to push the gas to try to reach that open area up on the right for an exit. You need to adjust, and instead drop you speed and start anticipating another 1/4 to 1/2 mile BEFORE your exit, how you're going to get over. Traffic is thus a major problem; all you can do is flow. You CANNOT move to the left/passing lane and expect anything to happen; there is not much acceleration at all. You also do not have enough power to get yourself out of trouble. This car's transmission FIGHTS you , to get into the tallest gear/lowest RPM possible. It DOES NOT react whwn you push the pedal. I've many times pushed the pedal down, only to be rewarded with a dull Rrrrrr. As I wonder what's happening, and push further, even resting the pedal on the floor, the car downshifts not once, but TWICE, pushing the rpm's to about 5500 - for 1 second, before it upshifts. This is FRIGHTENING in it's slowness of reaction, slowness of acceleration, and possibility of damage to the engine. I bought the car due to my commute of 400 miles per week and the high prie of gas. With the price down, I have no reason to keep this car. It's lack of positives outweigh any benefit.


This car is deafening. I am constantly amazed at how high the volume needs to be on my radio to hear it over the awful wind and road noise. I took the time to replace the stock tires at 30k with the lowest-noise tires I could find at the Rack. It made a big difference, but it's still AWFUL.

Rear seat room & comfort

It's a joke. You can't fit anything in the back seat aside from children and/or groceries/shopping. Putting an adult back there will require a sincere apology, and possibly a written note and gift bottle of wine.

Driving position & visibility

Rear visibility is AWFUL. I can barely see the road with my rear-view mirror, and I'm 6'1". Side view is also not good due to massive rear pillars; difficult to change lanes, and backing out of parking spaces is an adventure. Large thick A-Pillars don't help either.

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Response from MacGyver

2:10 pm December 30, 2016

I have a 2010 2.5 automatic and it spins the tires if I get excited but I've never tried the 2.0. I agree about the back seat, we're always putting someone back there and I'm sincerely thinking of changing models before I have to start buying wine!


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Response from para7dox

8:37 am February 22, 2017

The Mazda 3 with Skyactiv does have an AutoManual transmision. If you are not getting the response you want put the shifter in its manual position and shift down one or two gears. The engine will then rev close to redline and provide plenty of 'go'. This is one of the nicest autos I have driven and I have driven sticks most of my life.


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Response from NCDurmguy

12:21 pm August 11, 2017

Disagree about the automanual. I am completely and consistently let down by the automatic transmission's lack of response. I find that it fights acceleration and tries to maintain 2000 rpms when possible. The thing fights me when I hit the gas. The engine will lug when I start from a red light, as one major problem I have, and when I put the gas pedal down, I get buzzing, and have enough time to literally blurt "what the he-" before it kicks down a gear or two. I have literally put the pedal hard, standing on the floor, before I get a response. I literally have 2 car sale search sites open right now, and am shopping. With the price of gas down, the car has had a major selling point removed, leaving it with it's still flawless reliability as its major positive. That is the thing I will tell anyone; this car is the most trouble-free vehicle I've ever owned. Only oil changes and tires - NO mechanical issues. I've hung 76,000 miles on it in 37 months, trouble-free. I just dislike the performance sacrifice I made in buying this commuting-purposed vehicle. And the interior noise levels, good grief - completely unacceptable, from the road and the wind. Tire noise level ratings by owners was actually a considered option when I bought new tires !


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Response from NormT

7:30 pm August 24, 2017

Mazda's are know for their excessive road and wind noise. A newer set of tires will help some. Just wait until it starts rusting as mazda's do.


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