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New Mazda3 Hatchback Is Especially Attractive With AWD And Its New Engine

The Mazda3 was new for 2019, and gets new upgrades in its second year. See what new safety technology new models get.


What’s new for the 2020 Mazda3? The Mazda 3 was fully redesigned for 2019 and remains relatively unchanged for the 2020 model year. It does get adaptive cruise, lane-keeping assist, rain-sensing wipers, and other driver safety aids now standard on the sedan and 5-Door hatchback.

This week, we drive the 2020 Mazda3 hatchback with the Premium Package and all-wheel drive.

Features and Options

The 2020 Mazda3 Premium all-wheel drive ($28,900) comes standard with LED headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights; a rearview camera, push-button start, 60/40-split-folding rear seat, and an 8.8-inch central display. Tech treatments include Bluetooth, voice commands, and an eight-speaker audio system with HD radio and two USB ports. 

2020 Mazda3 Hatchback gets new safety tech2020 Mazda3 Hatch

Other features include 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. Additional safety features on our tester included forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking; a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert; adaptive cruise control, a driver attention monitor, automatic high beam control, and lane-keeping assist.

The top-trim Premium package adds adaptive headlights, a sunroof, heads-up display, leather upholstery, and paddle shifters for models with the automatic transmission. Total MSRP including destination: $31,270.

2020 Mazda3 hatchback interior features2020 Mazda3 cabin

Interior Highlights

The Mazda 3’s interior is clean with mostly quality materials and an overall solid fit and finish. The black interior is especially attractive and this tester came loaded with a power driver’s seat (w/memory) and heated front seats for extra winter comfort that we used liberally. We settled in and found the controller-based interface is one of the best we’ve seen. Everything is uncomplicated in the new sedan, as controls and buttons are easy to see and understand. It doesn’t take long to find and select a function.

2020 Mazda3 hatchback controller based interfaceMazda3 Controller based interface

We could easily find the perfect driving position and visibility is descent out the front and sides for a compact hatch in spite of its raked roof. The Mazda3 comes with a blind-spot monitor, rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera as standard, making it easier to navigate and detect objects out of your normal view. 

Rear legroom and headroom is a bit tight for adults and best for short rides. Mazda gave the 3 sleeker styling but rear passengers pay the price. Overall, we would give the cabin high marks at least upfront, and this Premium upgrade comes with features found in more expensive cars. It’s a comfortable place to spend your commute. 

Engine and Fuel Mileage Specs

The Mazda 3 is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 186 horsepower and an equal 186 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddles shifters and Sport Mode sending power to all four wheels. The suspense gets standard G-Vectoring Control Plus, a series of motion control technologies to increase steering response and handling. 

EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 24/32 city/highway and 27 combined with all-wheel drive. Front-wheel-drive models improve to 26/35 city/highway and 30 combined. Our all-wheel-drive tester came with cylinder deactivation which helps increase fuel economy. 

Driving Dynamics

Getting underway revealed a sporty ride and the dynamics from Mazda we’ve come to expect. The ride is comfortable, even at highway speeds, and the seats are supportive. Driving in the mountains west of Denver gave us the opportunity to push the compact hatchback hard in the curves.

The driving characteristics of the Mazda3 did not disappoint us either. The handling is crisp, and the steering offers up a light but engaging feel thanks to the G-Vectoring technology.

The 2.5-liter powerplant is naturally-aspirated and is eager to deliver from the onset, but it really gets going from the middle of the rev range. We had no problem merging onto the highway even with heavy traffic. We did notice quite a bit of road noise at higher speeds, despite Mazda saying they included additional sound insulation last year. 

In the city, we needed to make a U-turn and the Mazda3 has a quick-turning radius, making it easy to navigate parking lots and busy streets. But when the road gets curvy is when the fun begins! The transmission even offers a sport mode which makes the car more responsive in the curves.

2020 Mazda3 hatchback driving dynamics 

The Mazda3 will give drivers confidence as the car feels safe at higher speeds. We liked the 2.5-liter’s power, of course, but it feels stable as the suspension and transmission pair well with the larger engine. We had a chance to test it’s all-wheel-drive in both snow and ice this week as we had a large snowfall in Denver. We never lost traction and always felt safe as we powered up snow-packed and icy roads leading to our house.


For those looking for an upscale, affordable, fuel-efficient, fun-to-drive, small hatchback, the 2020 Mazda3 should be on your shopping list. It’s especially attractive with all-wheel drive and its new engine.

Denis Flierl has invested nearly 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Review Page. Follow Denis on FacebookTwitterInstagramSubaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more news and updates!

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Photo credit: Mazda USA


Digitaldoc (not verified)    December 16, 2019 - 9:33PM

The 2.5NA in the Mazda3, while standard across the line for the latest 3, was previously available as an upgrade in the previous 3. It is also used on multiple vehicles across the Mazda line, including the CX-5, and hardly new. I await a better optional engine in the 3, as otherwise the 2.5NA is kind of vanilla, and gets buzzy in the higher revs.

Fred Orlando (not verified)    December 17, 2019 - 11:52PM

Nice and accurate review except regarding rear parking sensors - U.S. market doesn't get them.

Emerson Preston Rice (not verified)    January 25, 2020 - 10:02AM

Even though the Skyactive G 2.5 engine has been around a bit, the addition of the cylinder deactivation has not been. My 2019 Premium 2.5 AWD hatch is consistently averaging 31 in a mix of city and highway driving. I also find the heated wipers great in winter, but dismayed the heated steering wheel is not on the 3.