*This post is sponsored by DriveSTI, MazdaUSA, and Diono; all opinions are my own.*
As the frigid grip of winter began to loosen earlier this month, I found myself fighting an almost unbearable restlessness (and hearing “we’ve got cabin fe-ver!” running around my brain every time I looked at my door). You know it’s been a hard winter when you roll your car windows down and enjoy the “warm breeze” when it’s still only 36 degrees out! I told Nick I need to get out of the house and go do something, but neither of us were really sure what to actually do.
And then a beautiful “soul red” 2015 Mazda3 showed up in my driveway.
To say this previous-century-dinosaur-car-driving mama was a bit intimidated by the fresh-off-the-lot crimson beauty gleaming in the sun next to my own car would be an understatement. But I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge, so I whispered a prayer (something like, “Dear God, please don’t let anything horrible happen to this gorgeous car while I’m responsible for it!!”), and took it for a spin through a normal week in the Belleque household.
Well, normal, plus we took advantage of the extra set of wheels and went to IKEA. It was a great way to freeway-test the Mazda3, and convenient timing to finally get some more dishes and silverware (more about that in another post).
Nick’s dad went with us, which was wonderful. Papa Brett is one of Serenity’s very favorite people, and she had a ton of fun running around, showing him the different “rooms”, and all the toys. We had to bribe her a little to get her to eat her lunch, and then she tried to go to sleep in one of the beds, but over all it was a really fun trip.
And the Mazda3 handled beautifully! From highly responsive brakes, to blind spot monitoring, it’s the perfect combination of features for merging in heavy traffic, and it gets up to speed super fast and smoothly, making it easy to get on and off the road without disrupting traffic.
The 2015 Mazda3 Touring has so many incredible features, I’m not even sure where to start telling you about them.
I love the touch screen media and options screen mounted in the dashboard, and I really love that when the car is in motion the “touch” part is disabled (to avoid distractions in your field of vision), and you can control it with a convenient dial and set of buttons down in the center console. The model we tested didn’t have a navigation system enabled, but it’s an option, and the screen is the perfect size to see exactly what you need to see, when and where you need to see it.
The keyless entry and push-button start features are super convenient, and I love that you can just drop your keys into the bottom of your bag and never take them out (as long as you don’t leave your bag in the car), because the key fob is wireless and as long as it’s in close enough proximity to the locks and dashboard, you never have to use the actual key (hidden inside the fob) unless you really want to for some reason. My only concern about this feature is that I tend to forget to pick up my keys, and it would be pretty horrible to leave them in the car by mistake (both as a theft risk, and a lock-yourself-out risk).
One of my favorite features of this car is the bluetooth. I bought my first smartphone last summer, and this was the first chance I’ve had to use bluetooth, and I’m totally hooked! The console features a deep compartment under the arm rest, which is equipped with a socket for your phone charger, and a removable tray to hold your phone (though I should note that it’s designed for side-mounted charging cords; my bottom-mounted charge cord prevented my phone from laying flat, which prevented the compartment from shutting, so I had to lay it down elsewhere in the console area in order to leave it plugged in. It wasn’t a big deal, but I was disappointed).
As a mother, the super easy to use LATCH system was what impressed me the most about the Mazda3. The hooks in the seat are easy to get to, and the one in the back window above the seat has a sleek pop-up cover that shuts completely even while the system is in use, showing that this incredibly important safety feature wasn’t an after-thought, and that they believe parents still deserve a nice looking car while hauling their kids around. Best of all, even my basic car seat (standard LATCH buckles, no fancy quick release system) came right out when I was ready to remove the car seat, without forcing me to crush my fingers to get it loose. This totally rocks for any parent, but as a mom with a disabling back injury, it’s a lifesaver.
Speaking of safety, the 2015 Mazda3 Touring is a 2014 and 2015 IIHS Top Safety Pick!
Serenity loved, loved, loved this car – to the point that when we had to give it back, she burst into tears and started banging on the back door as it drove away, sobbing, “No!! No take my pwetty car! You gib it back, wight now!! I neeeeeed it!!!” Tragic.
For a pretty compact car, the 2015 Mazda3 packs a lot of punch, and is surprisingly roomy. Serenity finally outgrew the rear facing weight and height limits on her car seat in January, so we turned her front facing at just over two and a half years old (I was hoping she’d make it until at least three, but our car seat is the most basic model on the market). Learning not to kick or push on the seat in front of her has been a struggle, so I was pleased to find that she had enough room in front of her in the backseat of the Mazda3 to dangle her legs comfortably, without bothering the driver.
I also love that a console with twin drink holders folds down in the center of the backseat. I tried to use a travel organizer we got last summer to situate Serenity’s toys within her reach, but it didn’t really work – too far back, and she couldn’t reach inside – but I was able to try out a seat-back organizer Diono sent us along with the travel organizer, and loved it! I still don’t really think it’s meant to be used by kids since they’d have to be buckled very loosely in order to reach it, but it’s highly useful for the adults in the car, since it can be used to easily organize whatever you want handy for you kiddos (we packed flip flops, books, toys, and snacks – someone with a baby could easily use it as an emergency diaper station by filling it with diapers, wipes, etc). I also tried it out in the front seat, as a commuting organizer, and loved it!! Super convenient, and multi-functional.
One more smart feature of the backseat (intentional or not, I have no idea) is that the door handles and lock switch are located on the far front edge of the back doors on the inside, well out of reach of any young children properly secured in front- or rear-facing car seats. It’s unlikely that a child could open the door of a moving vehicle, but knowing that they can’t reach to even try is reassuring.
Later that week, my sister-in-law Kristine and I packed up her four month old and our reusable shopping bags, and went for groceries. We’ve become close friends over the eight years I’ve been married to her big brother, and it’s nice to get out together now and then, even if only to run errands.
Both of us were sporting near-empty pantries, so we were anxious to find out whether we’d be able to fit everything for two families into a smaller car, but the Mazda3 performed spectacularly! Not only did everything fit, but the only groceries riding in the backseat with the baby were eggs and bread. Everything else easily fit into the trunk. I was also impressed to note a custom-fit trunk mat, and that the floor of the trunk is significantly higher off the ground than any other sedan I’ve seen, making it much, much easier to fill and unload the trunk. A+ grade for easy grocery shopping!
Best yet, we discovered that the uber-comfortable front seats were wide and flat enough to allow Kristine to change Stephen’s diaper. Now that’s a family-friendly car!
Two last things I want to mention about my experience driving a 2015 Mazda3 Touring sedan:
As a bigger woman, I sometimes struggle for comfort while driving. For example, in our new-to-us car (I’ll tell you about soon), I have to slide into the driver’s seat just so, and I barely have enough room for the wheel to turn safely. It’s not my favorite part about being heavy, let me tell you!
But in the Mazda3, my large size isn’t an issue. I still slide into the seat, but it fits comfortably, more like a glove than a puzzle, and once in I have comfortable clearance between my thighs and belly for the steering wheel.
And even more importantly, for me as a woman who suffers constant pain from back injuries, the seats in this car are incredibly comfortable and supportive. Not only did I not have to worry about my posture or sit funny in the seat to avoid pain or numbness (a very real and horrible issue I have in pretty much every other vehicle I ride in), these seats hugged my back from head to hips in perfect alignment, and actually significantly helped my back pain decrease during the week I drove the car.
Never in my life have I ever before considered that someday I might invest in a brand new car. We have always paid only cash for our cars, meaning they’ve been at least ten years old, with higher miles. I still maintain that paying cash in full for your vehicles is the smartest way to go, but for a car like this, that has top of the line safety features, incredible comfort, stellar gas mileage (up to 30/41 mpg city/highway, which equals only 2.9 gallons per 100 miles!!), not to mention the benefits of being able to know everything about your car from the get-go and maintain it accordingly, may well be worth the investment required. Nick and I are both extremely impressed with the 2015 Mazda3 Touring sedan, and should we eventually buy a new car, it’s definitely on the short list.
Have you ever driven a Mazda?
Disclosure: I’m thrilled to say I was given a full week of complimentary driving time in a 2015 Mazda3 Touring sedan in order to facilitate this consumer review; all opinions are my own. A big thank you to Mazda USA and to Drive STI for sponsoring this wonderful experience! And thank you to Diono for sending us awesome travel accessories to try out! Learn more about my policies by reading my disclosure.