Having 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.
On Thanksgiving, we even used the Mazda to go to a few stores at 11pm, 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 5am 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
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.
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.
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
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.