New York City with the 2014 Mazda 3

2014 Mazda 3: Among The Iihs'S Top Safety Picks
2014 Mazda 3: Among the IIHS's Top Safety Picks

38PHaving a car on a holiday in New York City can be both a blessing and a curse. On Thanksgiving, everyone and his grandmother is on the roads, and a little 28 mile trip can stretch to two and a half grueling hours.

But once you get past the hump of the gridlock day, the rest of the time driving around NYC can be the purest pleasure. So many people are out of town that you can drive to the movies and park in front, show off the city to visiting relatives and hit the malls for Black Friday shopping.

We did all this and more in our recent test drive of the 2014 Mazda 3– toured the holiday lights in Dyker Heights, took the dog semi-illegally to the beach, and drove to visit friends in nearby neighborhoods where subways are inconvenient.

Mirror In Makes Parking Easier

Mirror in makes parking easier

On Thanksgiving, we even used the Mazda to go to a few stores at 11 pm, something I never would have done by mass transit. I have mixed feelings about stores forcing employees to work on holidays, but I usually take the train, and those have to be staffed, too. Why not take advantage of door-buster sales? (But I do have my limits. My youngest was on her own for a 5 am shopping spree on Black Friday.)

Back it Up

Our friends, who were in the back seat when we drove to the movies, were stunned by the back-up camera. They drive a new luxury SUV but they didn’t get any bells and whistles with their car and they were speechless when they realized you could parallel park without craning your neck.

The camera has yellow lines, to indicate your are getting close to another car, and a red line to warn you that you are dangerously close.; in NYC that’s called a good parking spot

Watch the Blind Spot

Switching lanes, though, is another story. The Mazda has a blind spot monitor that is essential because the blind spot on the car is huge. My husband thought I was exaggerating until he took a turn in the drivers’ seat. As long as you listen to the

The Touchscreen Nav System

The touchscreen nav system

beeps, and are confident in relying on technology, the car is safe, but the blind spot made me turn the radio down every time I switched lanes – I wanted to be sure I could hear the warning signals.

Latest Technology

The car has remote keyless entry, lane departure warning signal and a very handy fuel indicator, letting you know approximately how far you can go on the available gas. This is handy when you are driving on the highway or to a state with cheaper gas. And since the car gets 41 mpg on the highway, you can get quite far.

The car sounds loud when it starts in cold conditions- this is the ‘accelerated warm-up system’ that brings the engine to its optimal temperature quickly.

Driver Rules

Mazda'S Center Console Has Room For Drinks, Keys And Sunglasses

Mazda’s center console has room for drinks, keys and sunglasses

In many families, the driver gets to set the music to her preference. But the front seat passenger often sits there, blithely switching stations. You can’t do this on the Mazda 3; the touchscreen infotainment system is disabled over 5mph. The driver can change channels, volume, set the nav from the steering wheel; in this car, you truly have the power.

Who the Car is For

The Mazda 3 is an economical, gas-sipping sedan that is perfect for small families, city dwellers or drivers who don’t have to cart big items around.

What we Loved

The gas mileage! 41 mpg on the highway, 30 in the city

Navigation system and Sirius XM radio are included at no extra charge

Moonroof (which we didn’t use in cold weather) is also included

The Easy To Read Dashboard Gives You The Car'S Range

The easy to read dashboard gives you the car’s range

Sporty leather steering wheel and halogen headlights and running lights give the car a luxurious feel

Easy to fold side view mirrors are very handy for NYC or garage parking

Safety features: brake assist, blind spot monitor, rearview camera and rear cross traffic alert

What you Need to Know

Base price is $23, 795. Price for the model we drove, with cargo mats, trim plates and delivery fee, was just $24,785.

36 month / 36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty

60 month, 60,000 mile powertrain warranty

Note: Mazda provided the car for our test drive. Opinions expressed are my own.

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Judy Antell, who is's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell