Oct 5, 2012

Mazda3 i Grand Touring Review (A FUN & Fuel-Efficient Car!)


What are your main reasons for saving at the grocery store?

On average, you can save around $400 just by shopping sales cycles and using coupons together! What are you using that extra $400 for?

Is it to pay off debt? Save for college? Go on a nice vacation? Save up cash for a quality car (or a nice downpayment for one)?

We are in the process of building our emergency fund back up. We pretty much had to go through the whole thing after some flooding this year in our rental property (hopefully we will get all of that back when we sell!) But once we get our emergency fund back to where it needs to be, we will be saving for a truck (one that can pull an RV). :)

So what does this have to do with the car pictured above?

I had a company ask me a couple of months ago if I would be interested in writing car reviews every so often on Surviving The Stores.  Honestly I was hesitant to do it at first (as fun as it would be, how does that fit with the purpose of our site?), but thought that since so many of us are using our grocery savings to save for a car it might be nice to read some vehicle reviews from a fellow mom who has NO CLUE about tork torke torque (yes, I had to look it up), horsepower, suspension, and well, pretty much any of the technical stuff that goes along with talking about cars.

In fact, when I looked up another review of the car that I’m writing about today (the Mazda3 i) on a popular car magazine’s site, I was lost pretty much immediately…

Slotting between the aged, less powerful 2.0-liter and the thirsty 2.5-liter naturally aspirated fours, the new 2.0-liter Skyactiv engine produces 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque.

Um… what?

Did anyone else get that?

My goal in these reviews is to tell you what I liked about each of the cars that I have the chance to take a look at from a mom’s perspective. I’ll be focusing a lot on safety features, ease of use, and gas mileage. Hopefully these will be helpful for you as you look for a vehicle to buy for your family!

So here’s my first one: the Mazda 3i Grand Touring with SkyActiv

If you were to take a look at the Mazda3 i at a dealership, I’m sure one of the first things that they would tell you is that this car gets awesome gas mileage! I was very shocked that a sporty car like the Mazda3 i gets almost 40 MPG on the highway (27 in the city/38 on the highway) which is not too far away from the type of gas mileage that a hybrid would get!

While reviewing the car we got one tank of gas and it lasted pretty much the whole week (and we drove that car A LOT)! As I was driving around Dallas (ALL around Dallas) I kept waiting for the fuel gauge to drop but it stayed full for much longer than I expected.  It was truly amazing how long we were able to drive on just that one tank of gas.

From what I’ve been told this is because of Mazda’s unique SkyActiv engine that reduces fuel consumption and emissions without compromising driving performance (not to mention that I’ve never seen an engine that looks this cool). Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve read I get the impression that no one else has done this yet. I’m sure this type of engine will be the standard soon, but for now Mazda’s the frontrunner in this new fuel-efficient technology for sporty cars!

The steering was very smooth and responded well. It definitely has a sports car feel, which was a nice change from the mini-van I’ve been driving for the past 7 years! :)

The only thing about the steering that I didn’t like was the actual steering wheel. I didn’t realize until driving this car how much I drive with my right hand through the hole at the very bottom of the wheel and, as you can see from the picture, that’s pretty much impossible with this car.

The trunk completely blew me away!! I was not expecting a ton of room when I first looked at the back of the car, but then I opened it and WOW! Yeah, plenty of room for groceries/luggage/trips to Goodwill to get rid of the clutter in our house.

I guess that’s why the back seat is a little bit squished, but with little kids back there it wasn’t an issue.

[No picture for this next feature since I figured it might be a little dangerous to take a picture of the side mirror while someone was passing me.]

Ever since we had a rental car with the blind spot monitoring system I have said that the next vehicle we get is definitely going to have that! You really can’t put a price on safety, and being able to look into your side mirrors and see a light if a car is passing you is, in my opinion, a must-have for any vehicle. I’m really hoping that all vehicles will have this feature as STANDARD within the next couple of years and so I was happy to see that it comes automatically with the Mazda3 i Grand Touring!

The air conditioner was also very impressive. We get some major heat here in Texas during the summer so to have a car that cools off quickly is important. The air conditioner was cool almost immediately after turning the car on.

With Bose as your sound system provider you really can’t go wrong and I loved the sound quality in the Mazda3 i (along with the 80s station on Sirius which I took advantage of pretty much the whole time).   The only thing about the sound system that I wasn’t thrilled about was that even though you could control your preset stations from the steering wheel, every time you wanted to change the channel to a station that was not a preset you had to reach over and turn the knob in between the front two seats (see the picture above the Bose picture).  Which doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal, but I felt like that part could’ve been designed to be safer.  I also don’t understand why you can’t go up or down by one station at a time directly from the steering wheel.  Can I make that a request for future versions?

Obviously with 4 kids we couldn’t all fit into this car, but I would definitely look into it as a commuter car, a great car for a family with 1 or 2 kids, or a great car to send your kids to college with that’s safe and still “cool”. :)

This car was a blast to drive and I felt much cooler than my usual mini-van-mom-self driving around in it.

If you’re interested in seeing how much a Mazda 3 would cost you (there are a lot of different options available), you can get a quote though this link or the picture below.

Disclosure: I got to test drive this car for a whole week with a full tank of gas!! I am also excited to partner with Mazda as an affiliate, so if you are thinking about a test drive then I would love it if you would click through the picture above. :)

Posted By: Rachel Holland

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



  1. RachelWilliamsKessler says:

    I have this car and I love it!  Went from driving a mini van for the past 12 years to this(the kids are older and have their own cars)   Great car, Great Price and the gas mileage is wonderful   Takes around $40.00 to fill up!  Highly recomend this car!

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