The IIHS ranking for the Mazda3 was based on its evaluations on front, side and rear impact crash tests as well as a roof strength test (implemented in 2010), which measures occupant protection in the event of a rollover. Only vehicles equipped with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) are eligible for testing. The Mazda3 received the organization’s highest possible crash safety rating of “Good” in all four tests conducted.
What is especially fascinating about the Top Safety Pick rating is it applies to the top-of-the-line MazdaSPEED3. That's a five-door hatchback with some serious chops. It is equipped with a direct-injected, turbocharged 2.3-liter engine producing 267-hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque.
Mazda needs all the success it can get with the Mazda3 because it is the main driving force behind sales in the U.S. As Jim O’Sullivan, President and CEO, Mazda North American Operations, said, “Nearly half of all Mazdas sold in the United States are Mazda3s, so we are justifiably proud of the 2011 Mazda3 earning the distinction of the IIHS ‘Top Safety Pick.’”
The 2011 Mazda3 recently was named a “Recommended” vehicle by a leading consumer publication and the sedan model praised as its “Most Fun Small Sedan” and a “Best Vehicle Under $20,000.” By the way, when you read the phrase "leading consumer sedan" it's PR code for "Consumer Reports." The publication won't allow its name to be used in association with product marketing of any sort. Hence the somewhat mysterious moniker of "leading consumer publication" that you see bandied about so much.
Starting at $15,800, the Mazda3 sedan is equipped with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that offers 148 horsepower with 135 lb.-ft. of torque and an estimated EPA fuel economy rating of 25 city/33 highway (MT) and 24 city/33 highway (AT). A larger 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine boasting 167 horsepower and 168 lb.-ft. of torque also is available for the Mazda3 sedan but standard on the five-door model. The Mazda3 hatchback starts at $20,045 and is rated with an EPA fuel economy of 20 city/28 highway (MT) and 22 city/29 highway (AT).
All 2011 Mazda3 and models are equipped with a high level of standard safety features, which include six airbags (advanced dual front, front-seat mounted and full-length side curtain), anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with a Traction Control System (TCS), front and rear stabilizer bars, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), a “crushable” brake and accelerator pedal assembly and collapsible steering column, three-point safety belts for all seating positions, front seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters as well as Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH).