Hyundai Elantra vs. Mazda 3 : Economical Compact Sedan Wars

A Girls Guide To Cars | Hyundai Elantra Vs. Mazda 3 : Economical Compact Sedan Wars - Lifestyle

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Here’s how to decide.

They’re both good looking sedans, they’re economical both at the pump and on the sticker, so it’ll come down to your personal brand preference. The Mazda3 and the Hyundai Elantra are equally stylish, compact, and even when loaded with features, affordable. I would certainly have a difficult time making a decision between these two beauties if I had to.
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Mazda3 Gt

The design of the Mazda3 was a huge factor in its Awards for 2020. Photo: Connie Peters

And the Winner Is…

The Mazda3 was redesigned for the 2020 model year and has been roundly recognized. In Canada, it won the AJAC Car of the Year for 2020, and worldwide, it was in the top 3 for World Car of the Year and won the organization’s World Car Design of the Year award.

When the Elantra was redesigned for the 2016 model year it won a slew of awards, including the AJAC car of the year for best small car, the IIHS Top Safety Pick and Biggest Bang for the Buck by the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association.

Elantra Profile

2020 Hyundai Elantra Ultimate is vivid & ready for the city. Photo: Connie Peters

But What About Price?

The Mazda3 starts at USD $21,500 for the sedan and CAD $18,000 (hatchback); the model we test drove, the GT trim with the premium package, came in at CAD $30,695. The Premium is USD $26,500 in the USA.

The Hyundai Elantra starts at USD $19,150/CAD $27,099. The Ultimate model we test drove is CAD $27,549; the comparable model in the US, the Limited with the Ultimate package is about $23,000.

So if we’re comparing solely on price, the Elantra is a bit less by the top model trims we tested. But are the features are on par for the price?

Hyundai Elantra Vs. Mazda 3

The clean lines and Machine Grey Metallic color look stunning on the Mazda3 GT. Photo: Connie Peters

How Do Features and Design Compare?

The Mazda3 GT offers a new 8.8″ infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto function standard, 7″ instrument gauge cluster, a great-sounding Bose 12 speaker system, and heated front seats and steering wheel.

On the exterior, I love the Mazda front grille design (the company’s “KODO” design language), the power moonroof, LED headlights (and tail lights), and 18″ wheels.

The Hyundai Elantra Ultimate offers up a slightly smaller 8″ infotainment screen (only in the Ultimate trim), with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto standard, leather seating, and LED headlights and taillights also.

In terms of size, the Elantra, 181.9 inches (4620 mm) in length; the Mazda3 is 183.5 inches (4662 mm) in length, so they’re super close in size, only about an inch and a half difference here.

Elantra Driver Cockpit

Everything just fits in the Hyundai Elantra Ultimate interior. Photo: Connie Peters

What About Cargo Space for All My Stuff?

The Elantra and Mazda3 sedan are very similar in size so it’s no surprise the cargo space in the trunk is similar – only off by less than a cubic foot of space. The Elantra wins here with 14.3 cubic feet and the Mazda3 sedan with 13.2 cubic feet.

Mazda3 Driver Cockpit

The infotainment screen in the Mazda3 GT is large and easy to access. Photo: Connie Peters

Safety Features are Always Important

The Mazda3 GT comes standard with head-up display, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, radar speed detection, rear cross-traffic detection, emergency braking, and lane departure warning.

The Elantra Ultimate comes standard with adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic detection.

Of course, both come with all standard features like back-up cameras, airbags, ABS brakes and traction control.

Hyundai Elantra Vs. Mazda 3

The seats are all leather in the Elantra Ultimate. Photo: Connie Peters

But Are They Fun to Drive?


The Mazda3 GT is standard with the premium Turbo engine offered at 186 horsepower and all-wheel-drive. The base Mazda3 can be had with a 155 horsepower motor and front-wheel drive.

The Elantra Ultimate comes in at 147 HP with 132 ft-lb of torque and front-wheel drive.

What does this mean for fuel economy? Well, the Elantra offers 7.9 L/100KM – 18.5 MPG (combined) and Mazda3 is 7.7 L/100KM – 18.1 MPG or 8.2 L/100KM – 19.2 MPG depending on the engine selected. Not surprisingly, both are great on gas.

Mazda3 Grille

I prefer the front-end on the Mazda3 GT over the Elantra. Photo: Connie Peters

Warranty and Brand Comparison

If you’re still unsure, the warranty comparison may be the decider.

In Canada, Mazda offers a 3-year unlimited mileage warranty and 3-year roadside assistance for all new models whereas Hyundai Canada offers a 5 year/100,000 KM warranty and 5-year roadside assistance on new models.

The other deciding factor for you may be proximity, distance, and your overall dealership experience. Think about how often you’ll need to bring in your car for service and if you liked one dealership more than another.

I think if I had to make a choice, it would be the all-wheel-drive Mazda3 for its styling and function. But perhaps not for long: Hyundai just revealed an all new Elantra design that will keep this debate going.

Disclosure: The Mazda3 and Hyundai Elantra were provided for the purpose of this post. All opinions are my own.

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Connie Peters is a mother of 3 girls in suburban Vancouver, Canada and has been an online entrepreneur since... More about Connie Peters