Kelly Blue Book (KBB) is now a thriving cottage industry that churns out weekly contest to anoint winning cars. The latest invention is “10 Tech-Savviest Cars Under $20K.” Number one on the list is the lovely and talented 2015 Mazda3. We take no issue with the KKB choice. The Mazda3 is a gem of a compact car. It does pretty much everything at a very high level. However, based on its technology, we think that calling it the most Tech-Savvy Under $20K is really just the start.
For example, name the number of compact cars Mazda’s Mazda3 competes with that also offer a head-up display (HUD). Are you having trouble? In our comparison of the highly acclaimed 2015 Audi A3 and the 2015 Mazda3 2.5 S, it was the HUD that gave the Mazda our nod in the technology and interior category. Speaking of the Mazda3 and Audi, both have very, very similar infotainment equipment from this user’s standpoint. Right down to the look of the Nav screen and the man-machine interface (MMI) they both use. The real difference is the price. One costs about $10k more. Guess which.
Then there is the optional forward crash prevention system in the Mazda3. We are way past “under $20K” at this point, but I’ve tested quite a few so-called “Premium cars” lately without that technology at a much higher price point.
The Mazda3 also includes a smart-key which some of us may take this for granted these days. However, if you cross-shop the Mazda3 with a European car its size, you may very likely need to step up to a pricey options package to get what we all now pretty much consider basic equipment. Things like a push-button start and handles that unlock the door when you touch them.
Finally, there is Pandora. This past year about 60% of the vehicles I tested had an App for Pandora. Of those only half worked properly. The value packed Mazda3s I tested (two of them) had it, and it worked very well with full functionality including thumbs up and down, album art, and station listing.
Good for KBB for finding another reason to mention the technology in the Mazda3. I have never tested one “Under $20K” but the two I tested for around $26K were downright impressive. If your budget is $20K, you will do well in a basic Mazda3, but if you can stretch a bit further for the good stuff you won’t regret it.