USED: 2019 Mazda 3 Sedan Review: This is Why It’s a Darling of the Critics

A Girls Guide To Cars | Used: 2019 Mazda 3 Sedan Review: This Is Why It'S A Darling Of The Critics - Agirlsguidetocars Logotype Color Web Transparentbg 16X9 1

Luxury all the way, but with a value price tag.

There is a nasty rumor that sedans are going away.

It’s not true, and for people who really love to drive, and for people who love getting more for your money in a car, that is a great thing.

The newly redesigned 2019 Mazda 3 sedan sums this up nicely: At $30,000 it delivers a very fun to drive, very comfortable, very beautifully appointed car. No wonder so many car critics are Mazda fans.

All the facts you need to know about the 2019 Mazda 3, including detailed pricing, warranty and more.

2019 Mazda 3

The Mazda3 steering wheel and driver’s cockpit. ?Scotty Reiss

What You Get for the Money in the Mazda 3

I spent a week with the Mazda 3 Premium edition and was immediately smitten by the interior. Literally every surface is covered in leather, and in this model the car’s designers did some lucky buyer a huge favor: White leather seats and vertical surfaces—those that are less likely to get dirty, like door panels and the vertical dashboard panels— are contrasted with dark leather and dark carpets, the part of the car that is more likely to be the victim of spills, wet umbrellas and dusty shoes.

Related: Are sedans really going away? Here’s what is really happening

2019 Mazda 3

The commander control dial controls the infotainment system. ?Scotty Reiss

The More You Pay The More You Get: Technology Scales Up in Each Model

All models also come with Mazda’s infotainment system a pairing of an 8.8” infotainment screen and a “command controller” dial that allows you to scroll through and select your settings from infotainment to navigation to customizing the car’s settings.

All but the base model Mazda 3 include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, which I prefer to navigation, though if you opt for the top of the line with head up display, it’s worth investing in the navigation system: HUD displays the car’s navigation directions in the driver’s field of view but not directions from Apple Car Play.

The Premium edition takes the luxury feel even further with a premium Bose audio system, head up display, rain sensing wipers and a full suite of driver assist safety features including blind spot monitors, rear cross traffic alert, brake hold, adaptive cruise control with full stop, lane departure warning, lane keep assist. These features are standard on every model except the base model, and we think that’s a great thing. Never buy a car without these features.

Related: How does the Mazda 3 stack up against the Nissan Altima AWD?

2019 Mazda 3

Mazda’s commander control dial system controls this infotainment screen. ?Scotty Reiss

What You Get For the Money in Not the Premium Edition

Even in the lower priced trim levels, the Mazda 3 is a nicely sized and nicely appointed. The biggest add-ons to the Premium edition are true leather seats and surfaces, head up display and paddle shifters. If you can live with leatherette, the next model down, the Preferred edition, offers most of the features the premium model has. However , the difference is only $2,300, worth if for leather and head up display alone.

2019 Mazda 3

Head up display Mazda 3 gives the driver key information displayed on the windshield, including turn by turn navigation. ?Scotty Reiss

Living Up to the Fun to Drive Reputation

Probably the other reason all the critics love Mazda is its finely tuned drive experience, which is enhanced with Sport mode .and all wheel drive

Put the Mazda 3 into sport mode and it becomes a different animal. Even your passengers will notice. My husband was suddenly a little more smiley when the curves of our local roads became more of a sweeping thrill. Even in traffic, Sport mode is fun. 

This is because of Mazda’s ample but not overly powerful 185 horsepower engine. It’s just enough power to have fun but not more than you need for a car this size. In default mode (which is what it’s in every time you start the car) the power is dialed back a bit, which of course, is great for better MPG.

And, for 2019 Mazda added all wheel drive. While we think of this feature as one that gets us safely up and down steep hills, gravely roads or snowy highways, it’s also a performance feature: It helps the car to better cling to the road’s curves, adding to a fun drive experience.

Related: Need a luxe SUV? We check out the Mazda CX-9 

2019 Mazda 3

The newly redesigned 2019 Mazda 3 (right) shows an evolution over the prior model, showcased even more elegantly by the Red Soul paint. ?Scotty Reiss

Maybe the Most Luxe Feature: Mazda’s Red Soul Paint

I just can’t get enough of this paint, something I rarely geek out about. But in Mazda’s case, the paint is exceptional.

That’s because the car’s designers took on a huge challenge: They designed the 3— as well as the full lineup—with accentuating lines that sweep the length of the car’s sides from front to back, giving the look of flowing motion while the car is standing still. Then, they deepened the visual experience with layers of paint and gloss to give the car’s finish a deep mirrored effect, essentially letting you look deep into the layers of paint. There’s no metallic trickery here, just deep, reflective color. And it’s glorious. It’s rich, it looks expensive and it turns heads. Side by side with the prior model design it’s obvious: The Mazda 3 has grown up in to the luxury car that its designers always knew it could be.

Smart Technology, Like the Automatic Parking Brake

This one had me scratching my head: If I put the car in gear and started to drive, the parking brake was on, though I didn’t remember setting it.

Then, I realized that I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt; I was on the driveway, not in traffic.

And, I realized, that instead of just an annoying blaring sound and flashing light on the dashboard, Mazda’s engineers devised a process to get me to put on my seatbelt: If you start the car and put it in gear without your seatbelt on, you have to release the parking brake manually by pushing the button. BUT… if you put your belt on, you can release it by tapping the accelerator. If you buckle up before putting the car in gear the parking brake is automatically released. That is super smart.

2019 Mazda 3

This car is now available in all wheel drive! ?Scotty Reiss

Luxe Features, Smart Engineering = A Luxury Car at a Value Price

Not just leather seating, but rich, cushy leather that covers the dashboard and door panels. Head up display that shows turn by turn navigation, your speed, speed limit and more. Wireless phone charging. An infotainment system with a dial controller so that all functions are at your fingertips. And that luscious gloss paint that’s like looking in a magic mirror.

Add to that the drive experience and it’s easy to see why the Mazda 3 is a favorite of so many car critics. Add me to that list.

What We Listened to in the 2019 Mazda 3

This is what we thought sounded great on the 2019 Mazda 3’s Bose premium sound system.

2019 Mazda 3 Luxury And Value In A Fun To Drive Sedan Disclosure: The 2019 Mazda 3 was provided for this review; all opinions are my own.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss