Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Jul 9, 2019

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U.S. News and World Report says that if you’re looking for a fun-to-drive, “zippy” compact car for less than $20,000, the Mazda 3 just might fit the bill.

The 2011 Mazda 3’s base price of $15,800 is competitive, although it’s not the best value in its class.

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The Honda Civic and the new Fiat 500 are in the same price range as the Mazda 3, while the Ford Fiesta’s starting MSRP of $13,320 makes it a more affordable option.

You should also keep in mind that the base model Mazda 3 has a manual transmission, so you’ll have to fork over a bit more if you’d like an automatic.

Reviewers like Popular Mechanics are enthusiastic about the Mazda 3’s refined, quiet interior, and Automobile Magazine says that the cabin materials feel “expensive.”

Even the base model comes equipped with creature comforts like back seat heat ducts, steering wheel-mounted controls, and power locks and mirrors. There’s also a standard CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack.

How much is auto insurance for the Mazda 3?

There are certainly compact cars that are less expensive to insure than the Mazda 3, but according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), its estimated car insurance rates are very close to those of the top-rated vehicles in its class.

The NADA anticipates that a typical Mazda 3 owner will pay an average of $94 per month over the initial five years that they insure the car.

Expected monthly auto insurance rates for the Hyundai Elantra are nearly identical to those for the Mazda 3, and Ford Fiesta drivers can expect to pay about $1 less per month. The Honda Fit is significantly more affordable to insure than the Mazda 3, though, with an NADA-estimated monthly cost of auto insurance just under $85.

Mazda 3 Maintenance Costs

The NADA also calculates estimated 5-year totals for routine maintenance. For the Mazda 3, this figure is $2,442, with the largest scheduled maintenance bill of over $ $1,300 arriving during the third year it is on the road.

During the first and second years of ownership, the NADA expects that maintenance costs will be under $250. In year four, they will be just under $400, and in year five, they will be about $100 less than in year four.

Routine maintenance costs for the Mazda 3 are about the same as the estimated costs for the Hyundai Elantra.

According to the NADA, 2011 Elantra owners can expect to pay a total of approximately $2,435 to maintain their compact cars for five years. Scheduled maintenance expenses for the Honda Fit and the Ford Fiesta are expected to be much lower, though.

The NADA expects that 5-year maintenance costs for the Fit will only total about $1,511, and that 5-year expenses for the Fiesta will be just $1,581.

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Mazda 3 Repair Costs

Mazda 3 drivers can expect to pay a total of $1,627 for repairs between the third and fifth years that they own their cars, reports the NADA. This bill is a bit higher than the $1,500 totals the NADA projects for the Ford Fiesta and the Hyundai Elantra.

Repair costs for the 2011 Honda Fit are expected to be even lower, at just $1,406 for five years.

Mazda 3 Reliability and Warranty Info

Mazda provides a 36-month/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty for its vehicles, along with a 60-month/60,000 mile powertrain warranty.

The basic warranty includes roadside assistance. This warranty is competitive with those offered by Ford and Honda, but Hyundai’s warranty is much longer.

The Elantra’s basic warranty extends for five years or 60,000 miles, and the powertrain is guaranteed for ten years or 100,000 miles.

Given the 2011 Mazda 3’s low reliability ratings, this warranty is reassuring. J.D. Power and Associates rates the Mazda 3’s reliability at just 5.0 out of a possible 10.0 points. The competing Honda Fit scored 9.0 points, and the Toyota Corolla and Yaris both earned scores of 8.0.

The Kia Rio, Volkswagen New Beetle, and Chevrolet Aveo all share the Mazda 3’s score of 5.0, and the Volkswagen Golf and Suzuki SX4 both have lower scores of 4.0. Many compact cars, like the Hyundai Elantra, have not received reliability ratings yet.

Mazda 3 Fuel Economy

The non-hybrid car with the best fuel economy in the compact car category is the 2011 Mini Cooper, with a rating of 29 city mpg/37 highway mpg. The Mazda 3’s estimated 25 city mpg/33 highway mpg rating is far lower than the Mini Cooper’s, but it is about average for this class.

If excellent fuel economy is important to you, but you’re not ready to commit to a hybrid, the Toyota Yaris and the Hyundai Elantra are both good fuel economy bets, although their numbers are not quite as good as the Mini Cooper’s.

Mazda 3 Safety Ratings

The Mazda 3 earned exceptional safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which named it a “Top Safety Pick.” This means that it earned the highest possible scores in all four standard crash tests that the IIHS performed, and that all models are equipped with dynamic stability control.

The Mazda 3 also performed well in front-impact crash testing by the federal government, earning five out of five available stars.

It earned a respectable four stars for withstanding rollovers, and five stars for protecting male drivers in side-impact collisions. However, it only earned two stars for protecting rear-seat female passengers.

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