Behind the Wheel

2020 Mazda Mazda3 Review: It's come a long way in a decade and now there's more to love

Mazda has completely redesigned the Mazda3 from the ground up.

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Everyone remembers their first new car. The excitement of getting that car with just a handful of miles on the clock, knowing that no other rear-ends but yours had graced the driver's seat. Driving a new car off the lot is like embarking on a journey full of possibilities—blah blah blah.

Okay, I may have fallen down a rabbit hole of feel-good nostalgia that would be too much for even the best "I-bought-my-kid-a-safe-car" Subaru commercial, but my point about new cars remains. My first was a 2011 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback.

2020 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback The model has a familiar front end, scaled to fit its beefy but petite body.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

It was dark grey, with a six-speed manual transmission, a slick purple-and-orange color scheme across the illuminated dash and infotainment, a load of storage space in the trunk and a zippy 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It served me well for years with nary a mechanical issue, before I sold it to a friend who has had more trouble-free years.

That Mazda3 hatch was the perfect car for a newly married guy with no kids. It was fun and sporty, but also eminently practical. It was perfect for Costco runs and moving across the country, as well as countless road trips and — when I was a volunteer firefighter — countless emergency runs as well. All in, if you include my friend that I sold it to, the car long-outlasted my marriage. There's some joke to be made there about why men (and women) love their cars.

Of course, the reason I'm telling you this story is because of my test car this week: the 2020 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback. It's been almost a decade, but this has a lot of the same DNA as the car I loved so much back in 2011.

It still has a zippy 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, albeit a more fuel-efficient and powerful version, producing 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. It's still fun and sporty, with plenty of cargo space and comfy seats — but it's also much, much more luxurious than the car I remember.

2020 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback The Mazda3 is now available with all-wheel drive.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Part of that is ten years of development across the industry, with features like adaptive cruise control and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto becoming near-standard. Push-button start and rearview cameras are everywhere now too (with the latter required by law in new cars, now).

But there's other stuff too, including LED head- and taillights, automatic high beams, rain-sensing windshield wipers, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and lane keep assist.

All that is awesome, but there's one big thing that I really wished I'd had when I bought my car in New England (and then drove to Colorado) all those years ago: all-wheel drive.

My Mazda3 was perfect in almost every way with the exception of it being front-wheel drive only. For most people, having all-wheel drive is unnecessary almost all of the time. But for those briefest of moments when you really need it — you'll really wish you had it.

2020 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback The bulbous exterior of the Mazda3 isn't as pointed as its predecessor.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

But now the Mazda3 includes all-wheel drive and I even got to test it out back in March when, fortuitously, we got a few inches of late-season snow during my road test. On the deserted, unplowed streets in my neighborhood, I was able to put the Mazda3 AWD through its paces. I can confirm that it is all-wheel drive and it works as you'd expect. If you live somewhere that the weather isn't perfect year-round, or you just want a little added traction, it's worth consideration.

Now, lest you think that I have nothing to complain about, there is one thing that really annoyed me. Remember I mentioned how I would take my Mazda3 to Costco and fire calls? My 2011 version had a flat load rear floor. That is, when you opened the tailgate, the cargo floor was level with the rear bumper, making loading and unloading a snap. You could even sit in the rear cargo area and hang your legs out if you wanted to tailgate or just relax.

2020 Mazda Mazda3 Hatchback The Mazda3 Hatchback's sunken infotainment screen riles up some critics, as does its small rear windscreen.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

But the 2020 version has a huge lip there, and not only does it make the cargo area less useful, it means that you really can't sit and hang your legs out the back. I don't know why Mazda's designers choose to do this, but it's not nearly as good as the old way.

Still, that's my only major quibble. If you're on the market for your first new car, it's hard to do better than the 2020 Mazda3 Hatchback.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye is the most powerful and fastest mass-produced sedan in the world.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Dodge's trio of fresh horsepower hellions is rounded out by the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, a 797-horsepower car that is the most powerful and fastest mass-produced sedan in the world.

The exterior of the model is a Charger Widebody, complete with 3.5 inches of width, which alloss for proper space for the car's wide wheels and tires. It rides on standard 20-inch-by-11-inch Lightweight Carbon Black wheels wrapped on Pirelli 305/35ZR20 tires. Three-season wheels are also available.

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye The car has a revised, functional hood scoop.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The front of the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye features a mail-slot grille. Side sills connect the front and rear fascias.

Thirteen different exterior colors are available including: F8 Green, Frostbite, Go Mango, Granite Crystal, Hellraisin, IndiGo Blue, Octane Red, Pitch Black, Sinamon Stick, Smoke Show, TorRed, Triple Nickel, and White Knuckle.

The Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye has a top speed of 203 mph (7 mph higher than the standard Charger SRT Hellcat), which it reaches thanks to its supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8. The engine also achieves 707 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. That all sits. below a freshly fashioned performance hood.

Dodge has given the model an upgraded torque converter, which gives the car an 18-percent increase in torque multiplication.

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Dodge has given the model a number of upgrades over the traditional Charger.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

"The Charger is a big, comfortable, five-passenger sedan that can run the quarter-mile in the mid-10s, 0-60 in the mid 3s and reach a top speed of 203 mph, and be your daily driver," said said Tim Kuniskis, Global Head of Alfa Romeo and Head of Passenger Cars – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America. The Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye runs 1.2 seconds faster than the Charger SRT Hellcat on a 2.1-mile road course, equal to about seven car lengths after one lap.

Like its Demon relative, the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye's engine has 25 major component upgrades a larger supercharger, strengthened connecting rods and pistons, larger induction air box, two dual-stage fuel pumps, high-speed valve train, fuel injection system, SRT Power Chiller, After-Run Chiller, and improved lubrication system.

The cabin's dashboard is centered by an 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen, which includes performance pages where owners can monitor the vehicles' performance on and off the track.

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye The interior features standard Laguna leather seats.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The standard Laguna leather seats are embossed with the SRT Hellcat logo. Buyers can add the Alcantara Appearance Package which adds Alcantara upholstery and retains the embossed logo. Seats are stitched with silver thread.

The interior is accented by Light Black Chrome material and it features a Gunmetal SRT Hellcat instrument panel badge. Additionally, the car gets a red speedometer, Light Black Chrome instrument panel badge with SRT Hellcat Redeye logo, SRT Hellcat Redeye logo splash screen, and SRT Hellcat Redeye logo on the key fobs.

The Carbon & Suede Package, available on Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, adds real carbon fiber accents to the instrument panel and console bezels and Dinamica suede headliner, sun visors and A-pillars.

Dodge sells the model in six interior color combinations: black, black/caramel, black/Demonic Red, black/houndstooth, black/Ruby Red, and black/sepia.

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye The rear of the model features familiar Dodge Charger design.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Dealer orders open for 2021 Dodge Charger models this autumn and vehicles are scheduled to start arriving in dealerships in early 2021

Trending News

 
 

Ford has revealed the silhouettes of the three models in the Bronco family.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford has made it official. Not only will we see the Ford Bronco for the first time next Monday night, we'll see three Ford Broncos. That's right, the automaker is making two- and four-door versions of the heralded 4x4 SUV as well as the more lifestyle-focused Bronco Sport.

From the images Ford released, it's apparent that the two-door Bronco delivers a different flavor than the four-door, rather than just being a shortened model. The two-door 2021 Ford Bronco is shown without its two front doors and what appears to be a soft top style roof. Its blunt front end and silhouette are reminiscent of the original Bronco.

2021 Ford Bronco family Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The four-door model shown is what most Americans likely think of as the traditional Bronco. It is squared off and upright with flared fenders, a spare wheel out back, hard top, and a blunt front smiler to the two-door version.

We've already seen the headlights and sides of the Bronco as part of Instagram teasers the company released last week.

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport sits on the same platform as the 2020 Ford Escape. Its interior is designed with a rugged yet comfortable lifestyle in mind. Because of its production mate, the Bronco Sport is likely to not be as capable as the two- or four-door Bronco.

With these images, Ford makes it clear that Bronco has the Jeep Wrangler firmly in its sights. While the two-door Wrangler and four-door Wrangler Sahara match up size-wise with the Bronco, the Bronco Sport is more the size of the Jeep Cherokee. Whether or not there is enough room in America's hearts for all the models remains to be seen.

The debut of the Bronco is slated for July 13 at 8 p.m. Click here to see all the ways to watch it alongside AutomotiveMap. Then, plan on coming back to AutomotiveMap for full model coverage, just like we did with redesigned 2021 Ford F-150 two weeks ago.

Bronco fans can reserve their Bronco model for $100 each, starting Monday, July 13 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Trending News