2017 Mazda 3 Grand Touring Review: Adding Excitement to Everyday Driving

Mazda3 S Grand Touring Review
The Mazda3 gave a pop of color against the background of a local pond in the Boston Burbs. Photo by Jenn Mitchell

A Practical Sedan That’s Pretty to Look at and a Pleasure to Drive.

From all angles, the 2017 Mazda 3 is quite striking offering a sophisticated look with a sleek exterior and chrome-accents. Named one of the 10 Best Family Cars by Parenting Magazine, the Mazda 3 turns a humdrum commute into a daily trip to look forward to.

The four-door sedan, with a base price of $24,195, is well priced with upscale features and a responsive driving experience. It has the best of both worlds with the feeling of a premium car and the handling of a sporty vehicle.

Who the 2017 Mazda 3 Grand Touring Is For

• Singles, couples or small families
• Empty nesters who want to downsize
• Buyers who want above average MPG
• Drivers who also want a sporty driving experience
• Drivers who occasionally have rear seat passengers
• Buyers who need flexible cargo space
• Buyers who want a good value in a sports sedan

Mazda3 S Grand Touring

I thoroughly enjoyed driving this car. I was sad to give it up at the end of my review period. Photo by Jenn Mitchell

What it Costs

• Base price: $24,195, price of the model we drove: $27,230 (including delivery charge)
• Optional Equipment (cargo mat, premium paint, rear bumper plate, etc.) $600
• Premium package (including navigation, paddle shifters. LED exterior lights, a heated steering wheel, and more) $1900

An Enjoyable Driving Experience Providing Both Comfort and Convenience

The Grand Touring has leather trimmed sport seats giving the interior a sleek finish. The front bucket-style seats mold to the body quite nicely. Height-adjustable driver’s seat and tilt/telescoping steering wheel add to a customizable driving experience.

Front and rear cup holders, front door pockets and seat-back storage are convenient for all. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel provided added comfort during my winter test weeks. The sunroof added light, and a chance to lean back and look at the trees while in the school pick up line.

The overall handling of the car and the quiet cabin also impressed me. I was able to pass school buses and trucks  with confidence and it barely made a difference in our audio enjoyment during the morning commute.

See our review of the comparable Honda Civic Touring edition.

Mazda3 S Grand Touring

Some of my favorite features include the sizable infotainment screen, Bose speakers and back up camera. Photo by Jenn Mitchell

Safety Comes First, Especially for Busy Moms

As a busy mom who carpools my kids nearly everywhere, safety features are very important to me. This Mazda 3 does not disappoint with excellent safety features. I especially liked the rear cross traffic alert (great for backing up in a busy parking lot) and the bright back up camera display. Both features come in the standard model. Other key features include:

Standard features
• SRS airbag system with dual front, side and full curtain airbags
• Steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls
• Heads up active driving display with speed, navigation directions and other info within the driver’s line of sight
• Blind spot monitoring system
• Dynamic stability control and traction control system

Grand Touring i-ACTIVESENSE features
• Automatic on/off headlights w/high beam control
Lane-departure warning
• Cruise Control
• Rain-sensing wipers
• Smart Brake System

Mazda3 S Grand Touring

I want to keep my kids safe. My daughter loved the Mazda 3 and I loved all the safety features. Photo by Jenn Mitchell

An Upscale Feel in an Affordable Car

The Mazda 3 blew away my expectations with features I’d expect to see in luxury cars. In fact, it has features I’d love to have in both our higher priced family cars. In addition to the leather interior, the car has keyless entry, push button start, power moonroof, heated steering wheel (had to mention this again) and Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming.

Besides the general look and feel of a sports car, drivers can kick it up a notch with Mazda Sport Mode. This feature provides a more sensitive gas pedal, quick acceleration and excellent passing power.

Taking on New England Winter Driving

I had some doubts about how this front wheel drive car would handle for winter driving, but I was pleasantly surprised by its performance. The paddle shifters were great to downshift for extra control on slippery roads. Only once did I get a bit stuck by attempting to drive up an unplowed driveway. Backing out of this trouble spot was no problem. The car I tested did not have snow tires so its performance was very impressive.

Mazda 3 S Grand Touring

Taking on the winter roads was no problem. Photo by Jenn Mitchell

See our review of the comparable Acura ILX sedan here.

You’re the Commander of the “Ship” With the Infotainment Control Center

The center control panel (aka the multi-function Commander Control) on the Mazda 3 is especially impressive. The rotary mouse makes it easy to switch modes and settings, especially for folks with shorter arms who can’t easily reach the touch screen. It’s also simple to switch to sport mode or back to the navigation screen.

Key features include:

• 7- inch full color touch screen display with voice command
• Bose 9 speaker surround sound system
• Pandora, Stitcher and Aha internet audio
• Sirius/XM Satellite Radio
• SMS text message auto deliver and voice reply
• AM/FM HD radio with 2 USB ports

Mazda3 S Grand Touring

Loved the central controls within easy reach. Photo by Jenn Mitchell

Lots of Stuff? No Problem With Flexible Cargo Space

I was impressed by the cargo space in the Mazda 3. Even without folding down the rear seats, I was able to easily fit groceries, backpacks, umbrellas and soccer equipment. The back seats fold down easily for added space for skis, sleds, fishing poles, etc.

Where I put my Handbag

While I love the central control center, it does take up space that could be used for my handbag. I typically drive without many passengers so I can easily put my purse on the passenger seat. With bucket seats, it stays put. For a larger bag, I use the seatbelt to keep it from tipping. If I have a full car, I’ll bring a smaller bag that will fit in the drivers side door pocket. The center storage is fine if I bring a wristlet or wallet/cell phone combo.

Mazda3 S Grand Touring

Center storage with cup holders, USB ports and compartment for wallet/cell phone. Photo by Jenn Mitchell

Improvements I’d Like to See

The improvements I’d like to see in a future Mazda 3 are all about the rear passenger experience. With a teen and a tween, these are features we could use:

• More rear seat leg room
• Rear seat USB ports
• Temperature controls for rear passengers
• Rear heated seats

Mazda3 S Grand Touring

Front seats felt spacious and comfortable, but rear seating was pretty tight. Photo by Jenn Mitchell

What You Need to Know about the 2017 Mazda 3

• Base price: $24,195
• Price of the model we drove: About $27,230
• Seats 5, most comfortable for 4
• Uses regular gas
• Fuel economy: 25 MPG average (30 city/40 highway)
• 3 year/36,000 basic warranty
• 3 year/36,000 roadside warranty
• 5 year/60,000 drivetrain warranty

Mazda3 Grand Touring

The Mazda 3 Grand Touring was provided for my review. Opinions are all my own.

Growing up in the New York metropolitan area, Jenn fondly remembers annual trips to the International Auto Show and... More about Jenn Mitchell