2014 Mazda3

2014 Mazda3

Episode 3314
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Mazda has been on a roll of late with great looking redesigns for the CX-5 crossover and Mazda6 midsize sedan; and with their SkyActiv technology producing noteworthy fuel economy gains without tuning out the zoom zoom fun factor the brand is known for. Well now they hope to bring all of that together in their high volume Mazda3 compact. So let’s see if the new ‘three’ can keep the good times rolling for Mazda. 

2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the Mazda3. And in that brief time it’s not only become one of our favorite compacts, but Mazda’s biggest seller. And now in its 3rd generation this 5-door sees the biggest changes in its brief lifetime, being all new from the ground up.

Wheelbase is over 2-inches longer than before, yet overall length is almost 2-inches shorter, and the new proportions work great with Mazda’s KODO “soul of motion” design theme. We’re not going out on a limb when we say it’s the best looking car in the compact segment, particularly in 5-door hatch guise. If you must, a traditional 4-door sedan is also available. Both share the latest Mazda signature 5-point grille and sharply angled headlights. 16-inch wheels are standard, 18’s come on Touring and above. 

Inside, the dash has been cleaned up and materials have taken a step in the right direction. We like just about everything about it, except for the gauge package which features a motorcycle-like large tach, but only a small digital speedometer. An additional flip up Active Driving Display helps somewhat by adding another digital speed readout, as well as navigation and other vehicle information, but we’d still like to see a traditional needle speedo. 

Our test model came in highly equipped Grand Touring trim, which left us wanting for little as navigation, Bose sound, leather-trimmed sport seats, dual-zone climate, and push button start are all included. The GT Technology package adds a lane departure warning system, automatic high beam control, active grille shutters, and Mazda’s new i-eLoop system that stores energy generated by the brakes in a capacitor to run the car’s electrical components. 

Now we doubt many buyers will option their Mazda3 this high, but even base models have great seats up front with a very sporty driving position. Rear seats are also much comfier than before, though leg room remains in short supply. But cargo room is up significantly with 20.2 cubic-ft. of space expanding to 47.1 with rear seatbacks folded. 

2 SkyActiv -G 4-cylinder engines are available, a 2.0-liter and a 2.5-liter. There’s very little fuel economy penalty for stepping up to the larger four, and its 184-horsepower and 185 lb-ft. of torque up the fun factor exponentially.  

How much so? Well at our test track we managed to hit 60 in 6.9-seconds. There’s a tiny bit of wheel hop at launch, but once hooked up this latest 3 pulls pretty strong through the RPMs. All Grand Touring cars are equipped with a 6-speed automatic and we found shifts very quick in sport mode, helping us reach the end of the quarter mile in 15.2-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. 

SkyActiv body and chassis enhancements have made the new 3 both stiffer and lighter, and the fully independent suspension setup consists of MacPherson struts up front with a Multi-link in the rear, twin-tube shocks all around. Brakes are 4-wheel discs on all models, but cars with 18-inch wheels get slightly larger discs up front. We averaged an okay 129-feet from 60. 

Additional available safety features include blind spot monitoring and backup camera with rear cross traffic alert, and the Mazda3 also features a new Mazda Connect infotainment system which merges all of your connectivity needs into a dash top screen with an easy to use central controller.   

SkyActiv provides Government Fuel Economy Ratings for our 2.5 Grand Touring automatic of 28-City, 38-Highway, and 32-Combined. We averaged a good 33.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular in mixed driving. The Energy Impact Score is also very good, with annual oil use of 10.3-barrels and yearly CO2 emissions of 4.6-tons. 

Pricing is competitive for the base model at just $19,740 for an iSport 5-door. Sedans start even cheaper at $17,740. However for an S Grand Touring 5-door like ours, you’re looking at $27,290. 

While somewhat pricey for its segment, the 2014 Mazda3 offers features and style of vehicles twice its sticker. Add in fine fuel economy and a fun-to-drive nature that’s hard to find in this segment, and that makes the Mazda3 a real hit with us, and we think with more discerning small car buyers as well.

Specifications

  • Engine: 2.5-liter
  • Horsepower: 184
  • Torque: 185 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 6.9 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 15.2 seconds @ 95 mph
  • EPA: 28 mpg city/ 38 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 10.3 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 4.6 tons/yr
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 1

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Still A Miata, And That’s A Great Thing

Episode 4340
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When the cool little Mazda MX-5 Miata arrived for 1990, it immediately triggered a host of imitators and sparked a genuine global roadster revival. While that fad has faded, America’s love affair with the MX-5 has stayed strong. And, we’re pretty sure we know why!

The 2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata is probably one of the most recognizable cars on the road, and it has a way of putting a smile on our face every time we see one, not to mention any time we get a chance to hop behind the wheel. The Miata concept really hasn’t changed drastically over the last three decades, proof that Mazda got the formula right from the beginning.

Rear-wheel drive, minimal weight, tight suspension, willing engine, superb manual shifter, simple folding top, and just enough creature comforts to make long drives as pleasant as carving up backroad twisties.
An overload of power has never been part of that equation, and many may still decry the lack of horsepower, but just a reminder, this car was meant to rekindle the spirit of British roadsters from the 1960s that were a pure joy to drive, and had engines half as powerful as what the Miata works with today, which is a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4 with 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque.

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Front
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Profile
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Rear
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front Detail
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear Detail
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Front2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Profile2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata 3/4 Rear2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front Detail2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Rear Detail

A six-speed manual transmission remains the standard; you must upgrade to top Grand Touring trim to even get the available six-speed automatic. And it all works together to deliver a joyful driving experience that few other vehicles can match.

The exterior design has gotten more purposeful and less cartoonish over the years; new for this year is updated lighting which now incorporates the LED DRLs into the headlight assembly, as well as a more cohesive design for the full LED taillights, plus some fresh wheel choices.

Continual upgrades under the skin too, with a new asymmetric limited-slip differential for all manual-equipped Miatas. Its purpose is to minimize oversteer, and if you think that means it’s less fun, you’d be wrong.

The perfect feel and action of the shifter keeps you looking for reasons to shift gears.

It was still a blast to dart through the handling course at our Mason Dixon test track and on the autocross circuit at Summit Point Motorsports Park. Minimal body roll and perfectly neutral handling had us scooting through the turns with ease. Kinematic Posture Control was added back in ’22, using selective braking to tighten up cornering. Adding to it for ’24 is a new steering rack and updated software for the Electric Power Assisted Steering that provides better on-center feel and more precise control.

7.0 seconds to 60 mph won’t exactly get your blood pumping, but it’s plenty adequate for the Miata’s mission and the engine sounds great for a four-cylinder. The perfect feel and action of the shifter keeps you looking for reasons to shift gears. But keep those engine revs above 6,000 for the most power. We did and our best quarter-mile was 15.4 at 92 mph.

Our average braking distance of 118 feet from 60 mph may have been a little longer than we’re accustomed to from a performance car these days, but their predictable and fade-free nature will give you plenty of confidence at your next track day.

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Dashboard
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Seats
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Instrument Cluster
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Central Display
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Shifter
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trunk
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Engine
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Dashboard2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Seats2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Instrument Cluster2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Central Display2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Shifter2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Trunk2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata Engine

Things remain all business in the cockpit, with everything falling readily to hand, and comfortable seats locking you in place. The most notable change in here for ’24 is a bigger infotainment screen, growing from 7.0 to 8.8 inches.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings with the manual are 26 City, 34 Highway, and 29 Combined. That’s a slightly better than average Energy Impact Score of 10.3 barrels of annual oil use, with 5.0 tons of CO2 emissions.
Starting price is only $30,170; top Grand Touring goes for $35,470.

It’s true that the Mazda MX-5 Miata has barely evolved over the years; but fortunately for all of us, virtually all of the ways that it has changed have been for the better, yet even in 2024, it remains incredibly affordable. It has been such a constant presence and passion for so many of our MotorWeek staffers over the years it seems like it has been around for a lot longer than just three decades, and thankfully, it looks like there’s no slowing the Miata down.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Engine: 2.0-liter I4
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Horsepower: 181
  • Torque: 151 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.4 seconds at 92 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 118 feet (avg)
  • EPA: 26 City | 34 Highway | 29 Combined
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front

2024 Subaru Solterra

The Solterra Gets Subaru Into The EV Game

Episode 4339
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You could say that Subaru is one of the more conservative brands out there. So, it’s no surprise it took them a little longer than most to venture into pure EV territory. But now that they’ve staked a claim with this Solterra, it’s time for us to see if Subaru buyers should plug in.

The Subaru Solterra is indeed the brand’s first full battery-electric vehicle; and while it took partnering with Toyota to make it happen, as we’ve seen with the BRZ and GR86 sport coupes, that partnership can lead to some great things.

So, we’ll start there; the Solterra’s counterpart is the Toyota bZ4X, and they do share most powertrain elements, specs, and features; but Subaru has done a few things to establish some unique vibes for their brand. That starts with the drivetrain, as all-wheel drive is standard here as in most Subarus, and in similar tradition, power won’t overwhelm you, it’s more safe and familiar feeling than overpowering as some EVs can be. Called StarDrive, this Subaru’s dual-motor setup rates 215 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque. Subaru loves to tout that their drivers are second only to Jeep owners when it comes to venturing off pavement, so capability is a must.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Front
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front
2024 Subaru Solterra Headlight
2024 Subaru Solterra Front Emblem
2024 Subaru Solterra Wheel
2024 Subaru Solterra Profile
2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Rear
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Rear
2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Detail
2024 Subaru Solterra Badge
2024 Subaru Solterra Charge Port
2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Front2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front2024 Subaru Solterra Headlight2024 Subaru Solterra Front Emblem2024 Subaru Solterra Wheel2024 Subaru Solterra Profile2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Rear2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Rear2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Detail2024 Subaru Solterra Badge2024 Subaru Solterra Charge Port

We did find Solterra as competent as every other Subaru. Their X-Mode has been programmed to work seamlessly with the electric motors, and its 8.3 inches of ground clearance is higher than the bZ4X; plus, you can use Grip Control to moderate speeds and maximize traction.

While most new EVs seem to be hovering around 300 miles of range, max here in the Solterra from its 72.8-kWh battery pack is 227 miles, 222 here in Touring trim. Our results were much less than that, on pace for just 172 miles in our driving loop. But that may be a fluke since we managed 210+ in our bZ4X test.

Only 100-kW max for DC fast charging. But even though it has only been on the market for a year, they’ve already cut down charging times for ‘24 models. An upgraded battery conditioning system, needs 35 minutes for an 80% charge. Subaru always seems to come out on the right side of being cool while remaining authentic, and the Solterra’s styling works, as does its beefier roof rack for ’24 which now holds up to 700 lbs. for tents and the like. Touring trim comes with some great looking 20-inch alloy wheels and there’s lots of body protection, but they did go a little overboard with all of the EV badges everywhere.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected.

In addition to being a good-looking small SUV, it’s a highly functional one too with plenty of room for 5, durable materials, and a bridge-type center console with lots of storage space underneath, though there is no traditional glove box. Subaru also claims it was designed to be dog-friendly, so that’s a plus too. It does have the roomy feel of an Outback, and rear cargo capacity is pretty close, too, at 29.0 cubic-feet.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected. It really shined in the handling course at our Mason-Dixon test track; the EV low center of gravity giving it a very planted feel through the cones. There was minimal body roll and great all-wheel-drive grip; though when it came to us getting a grip on the steering wheel. Well, it’s an oddly shaped steering wheel that took some getting used to. It’s another thing that separates it from the bZ4X, though it seems a little bit like just being different for the sake of being different.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dashboard
2024 Subaru Solterra Instrument Cluster
2024 Subaru Solterra Central Display
2024 Subaru Solterra Shifter
2024 Subaru Solterra Front Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Trunk
2024 Subaru Solterra Dashboard2024 Subaru Solterra Instrument Cluster2024 Subaru Solterra Central Display2024 Subaru Solterra Shifter2024 Subaru Solterra Front Seat2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Seat2024 Subaru Solterra Trunk

On the other hand, while not insanely fast like some EVs, there was good punch off the line; enough to get us to 60 in 6.2 seconds. And rather than rolling back the power, the Solterra kept it consistent the whole way down the track. We finished the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 93 mph. There wasn’t much feel coming through the brake pedal, but panic braking stops were fade-free with an average amount of nose dive; our stops from 60 averaged 120 feet.

Using 33-kWh of electricity per 100-miles, the Solterra earns a good efficiency rating. Pricing starts at $46,340 for the base Premium, and tops out with Touring at $53,340, with Limited in between.

Being the rugged and lovable outdoor types, Subaru owners have proven to be willing to sacrifice certain things for the good of the environment they spend so much time enjoying. Whether that will translate to them going all-in on the 2024 Solterra remains to be seen. It’s no surprise Subaru has finally gone all-electric, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise they’ve entered the EV game conservatively. Something tells us Subaru owners wouldn’t have it any other way.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Motor Setup: Dual Motor
  • Battery Size: 72.8-kWh
  • Horsepower: 215
  • Torque: 249 lb-ft
  • EPA Range: 222 miles
  • 0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.8 seconds at 93 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 120 feet (avg)
  • MW Test Loop: 172 miles