Earlier this month I drove from my home in Los Angeles to the Affiliate Summit West conference in Las Vegas, and then back again, a trip of about 4-5 hours each way. Having grown up in L.A., I’ve done the drive to Vegas countless times. It’s not difficult but it’s long, and boring, especially when you’re driving alone. But I have to say this was my most enjoyable drive to and from Vegas yet, thanks to the opportunity to test drive the 2016 Mazda3 S Grand Touring! Holy smokes, I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS CAR!!
I’m not a major car girl (despite my love of NASCAR) and I’ve always valued practicality and reliability over pretty, but man, this car sure is pretty. The color is “Soul Red Metallic” and when I first saw it parked outside my home, it legit took my breath away. So shiny, so sparkly, so seductive … I totally understand now why Snow White had to take a bite of that shiny red apple.
Okay, so beyond the pretty exterior, how was it to drive? The car drove like a dream. So smooth compared to my 11 year old car. And the Mazda3 S has this really fun “Sport” button. While you’re driving, you can press the Sport button and you get a little boost from the engine. The car just feels a little sportier … it’s tough to explain … but the “vroom” sound from the engine is a lot of fun for this NASCAR fan. A little research tells me driving the Mazda3 in Sport mode will reduce the awesome fuel efficiency (31 MPG highway), so I probably wouldn’t use it that often. Maybe just to show off to new friends.
Speaking of fuel, I made it all the way to Vegas without having to stop for gas. Not even close! I filled up on my way out of town. And I loved the dashboard mileage countdown, telling me how many more miles I could go on the current tank. I kept comparing it to the “This many miles to Vegas” signs along the road. It’s a very cool feature.
Another very cool feature is what I was calling my R2-D2 hologram speedometer. The actual term is “Active Driving Display” but whatever you call it, it’s really fun. When you start the car, this little translucent screen pops up and displays the speed. It doesn’t block your view in any way, and it makes it very easy to keep an eye on your speed. And when you’re driving from L.A. to Vegas, it’s easy to let your speed get away from you. This was a very handy feature for my trip. It’s tough to capture in a photo; it’s a lot brighter in person.
I think my favorite aspect of the car were the safety features. I loved the rear backup camera display, and the warning beep if there was an obstacle behind you. The car also has blind spot monitoring, utilizing a little light on your side mirrors if there’s a car traveling in your blind spot. It’s not a replacement for glancing over your shoulder, but I loved that the light warned me before I looked back. Also, if you turn your blinker on and there’s a car in your blind spot, the car emits a beep to warn you to check before merging. I’m a fairly cautious driver so I really loved these safety features. It just gives you an extra bit of security.
There are honestly too many great features to list, but I want to give a shout-out to the SiriusXM radio and its 90s channel which kept me entertained during my eight hours in the car. I also got used to the keyless entry and heated seats real quick. I miss them so much. And of course, I loved the sun roof.
However, I will say I wish there was some more trunk space. I mean, if I had been traveling with my husband, where would his luggage have gone?
The 2016 Mazda3 starts at $18,545. The vehicle that I drove, the 2016 Mazda3 S Grand Touring, starts at $26,495 and comes fully loaded at $30,665. Totally worth it for all those amazing safety features.
I want to thank Mazda USA for partnering with me for this review! I had a lot of fun with my Mazda3!