During Thanksgiving week, I had the opportunity to drive the 2016 Mazda 3 S Grand Touring vehicle, which I put through the hectic holiday with family visits and, of course, lots of shopping. This four-door car in Soul Red Metallic turned out to be up to the challenge.
For me, the 2016 Mazda 3 S Grand Touring’s best assets are the SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine and the SKYACTIV-DRIVE six-speed transmission with Sport Mode that produces 184 horsepower and 185 pound-foot of torque. What does all this mean to you? This car has great acceleration combined with fantastic fuel efficiency (I got about 29 miles per gallon around town, and this number shot up when traveling by highway).
Combined with the four-wheel disc brakes, electric power-assisted steering and the independent front and rear suspension, and you have a car that is very responsive to the driver’s direction. In addition, the head-up display that shows the speed on the front windshield just in front of the driver does a great job keeping drivers focused on the road. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if I would like this feature. However, it really was beneficial.
When using cruise control, the head-up display showed the set speed as well as the settings for the distance between you and the car in front of you. Simply put, you set a desired distance between you and the car in front of you. As you move closer to that car, the Mazda 3 S automatically slows down to maintain that distance. Once you pass that vehicle, the car returned to the set speed in the cruise control. Cool, right?
Along these lines, I also liked the blind spot warning that appears in the side mirrors to alert you to another car in your way. This was handy not only when trying to change lanes as you drive down the road, but also when backing out of a parking space, especially when you’re parked next to a taller SUV or pickup truck. Sometimes the car wasn’t close enough to appear in the rear-view backup camera yet, but the blind spot warning caught it.
Other top features I enjoyed are the 7-inch color touch-screen display that housed the navigation and audio system, plus Bluetooth compatibility with my iPhone, the dual-zone auto climate control, and the moonroof with one-touch open.
As for the interior, the black leather sport-trimmed seats were comfortable, and I loved the variable heated front seats. My kids had plenty of room to move about in their back seats, even my son in his car seat. I also appreciated the very large trunk space, which I did my best to fill up when out shopping on Black Friday.
Although I enjoyed driving the 2016 Mazda 3 S Grand Touring, it did have some drawbacks to it. First and foremost, it has several “auto” settings, such as the cruise control settings I mentioned above. Those I liked. I also liked the “auto” setting for the headlights, which turned the lights on at dusk. However, the “auto” setting for bright headlights was not great. It would automatically turn the lights off when it detected any other light, such as a streetlight, even if another car was not approaching. Also, the “auto” settings for the windshield wipers were not intuitive enough for me, either.
While I was comfortable in the driver’s seat, my 6-foot-tall husband was not as comfortable in the front passenger seat. He felt cramped, even when moving the seat as far back as possible without squishing our daughter in the back seat.
Perhaps my least favorite feature was the tiny amount of storage in the console and front doors. I rely on my console to hold a lot of stuff from medicine and wet wipes to a hairbrush and car chargers, and there’s no way I could fit all of this into the Mazda 3’ console. Likewise, I keep pens, a DVD wallet, lip balm and more in my door pockets, and hardly any of this would fit in the small pockets of the Mazda 3.
Overall, though, I have to say the Mazda 3 S Grand Touring is a great vehicle, and one that would serve many drivers well.