Each year, the IIHS gives the designation of Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ to the safest new models. Mazda isn’t usually the first brand that comes to mind for outstanding safety, but it really impressed the IIHS this year. Its cars received more Top Safety Pick+ awards than any other automaker for the 2020 model year.
The safest new cars in Mazda’s lineup are the Mazda3, CX-3, CX-5, and Mazda6. Besides being incredibly safe, what else do each of these models have to offer?
The 2020 Mazda3 is available as either a sedan or a hatchback. Both body styles come with the same engine, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder capable of 186 hp. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission in the sedan, with the option for a manual in the hatchback. All-wheel drive is also available as an option.
The Mazda3 lives up to the automaker’s standard for swift acceleration and engaging handling. Passenger space is somewhat lacking, but the cabin is upscale with comfortable seats. The Mazda3 comes standard with key safety features like automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and driver attention monitoring.
The Mazda CX-3
This subcompact SUV has even more standard driver’s aids, like blind-spot monitors and rain-sensing windshield wipers. However, its interior isn’t as upscale as the one inside the Mazda3 and its rivals offer significantly more cargo space. Taller riders may also want to stick to the front row because of the CX-3’s sloping roofline.
The Mazda CX-3 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four that makes 148 hp, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. It provides plenty of power for city driving, but expect a lot of droning once you merge onto the highway. Still, the CX-3 gets great mileage for its class, an estimated 31 mpg combined city/highway.
The Mazda CX-5
The Mazda CX-5 is another subcompact SUV, but critics vastly prefer it over the CX-3. It has three engine options, the standard being the same one inside the Mazda3. The optional 2.5-liter turbo-four makes up to 250 hp with premium fuel. A 168-hp turbodiesel engine is also on tap, but this one was sadly discontinued for 2021.
All the engines provide adequate power for most situations, though the available motors are predictably more lively. The Mazda CX-5 also has a great suspension, giving all riders a smooth and quiet drive. Both rows are roomy enough for adults and the cargo area is much more accommodating than inside the Mazda CX-3.
The Mazda6 is a midsize car, so it has more room for backseat passengers than the Mazda3. Though it does have a full suite of standard safety features, critics report that the infotainment system is frustrating to use. The touchscreen is also only functional when the car is completely stopped.
Despite this, the Mazda6 is still just as powerful and fun to drive as any of its siblings. It also has an optional turbo-four to make the drive even more exciting. Disappointingly, this car is only available with front-wheel drive.
One honorable mention
While it didn’t quite join the ranks of Mazda’s safest vehicles, the Mazda CX-9 still earned a Top Safety Pick award. This is only with the adaptive headlights equipped, included on Grand Touring and Signature trims. Still, the base Mazda CX-9 has plenty of driver aids, as well as heated seats and internet radio integration.
Mazda earned its reputation in the automotive world for providing affordable, stylish, and high-performing cars. Now it has proven that its vehicles are not only fun to drive, but exceptionally safe as well.