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.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2022 Audi Q5 Sportback has debuted but Americans will have to wait around six months to get one.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The Audi Q5 Sportback takes the traditional dimensions of the Audi Q5 and shaves some off the back of the roof to creating a more sloping design. The result is a model that fits right into Audi's lineup.

At the front of the new all-wheel drive model is an octagonal Singleframe grille that is flanked by large air inlets. The car's headlights feature daytime running lights with the buyer's choice of LED or matrix-design LED technology. At the rear are taillights that feature OLED lighting technology split into three ties of six segments each.

2022 Audi Q5 Sportback

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Like the roof, the car's windows taper as the design of the vehicle flows backward. Its rear bumper appears to be high-mounted.

Base Audi Q5 Sportback models are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with a 12-volt mild-hybrid system to to deliver 261 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can upgrade to the 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 349 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.

The SQ5 will come standard with adaptive dampers and has an available air suspension and dynamic steering capability.

Each model has Audi's new MIB 3 infotainment system, which can be optioned to include a 12.3-inch digital display in front of the driver as well as virtual cockpit and head-up display technologies. At the center of the dashboard is a 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen with navigation. The system allows for multiple user profiles.

The Audi phone box and a Bang and Olufsen sound system with 3D sound are available.

Inside the cabin, the car has a rear bench seat the can be shifted laterally as well as forward and aft. The seat also reclines.

Each Q5 Sportback comes with a standard hands-free power tailgate.

Buyers can option their model to include numerous driver assist systems including adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, standard Audi Side Assist and Audi Pre Sense Rear, lane departure warning, and Parking System Plus.

The 2020 Audi Q5 starts at $43,000. Expect the Sportback model to be slightly pricier when it arrives in the U.S. in the first half of 2021. It will be assembled at the San José Chiapa plant in Mexico.

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The Lordstown Endurance all-electric pickup truck is moving closer to production.

Photo courtesy of Lordstown Motors

The Lordstown Endurance isn’t under production yet, but the company is already receiving orders for the all-electric pickup truck - 40,000 of them. The model is targeted at commercial fleet vehicle buyers like city governments and large corporate entities that require the capability of a full-size truck.

Each pre-order is a non-binding agreement to purchase the truck, the same as the reservations received by Ford for the Mustang Mach-E and Tesla for the Cybertruck. The purchases equal $2 billion in revenue for the company, which is based in Lordstown, Ohio.

2021 Lordstown Endurance The design of the interior of the Endurance is crisp and modern.Photo courtesy of Lordstown Motors

Lordstrown has kicked up the cadence of its news releases as the company moves closer to production. In June, the company debuted the truck and announced its $52,000 price point.

July marked the release of the first renderings of the interior of the Endurance and the debut of the first commercial starring the truck. Then, in August, Lordstown announced that they had entered into an agreement with DiamondPeak Holdings to become a publicly traded company.

Lordstown Motors is operating out of the former General Motors Lordstown Assembly site. The new company has its plant next to the battery facility that General Motors is developing to assist with the products coming to market in the future, like the Cadillac Lyriq.

2021 Lordstown Endurance The large screen combines most vital functions of the car’s command center into one place.Photo courtesy of Lordstown Motors

Now, the company as revealed its first pictures of the interior of the truck. Notably, the Endurance has its large screen spanning the width of the driver and center console, housing most all vital functional controls of the vehicle.

Reservations for the truck continue to be taken via the company’s website.

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