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How you feel behind the wheel is one of the most important considerations for a prospective vehicle buyer. In fact, it often overshadows other considerations, like practicality or oven price. For Mazda3 owners, driving feel certainly played a role in their purchase decision and why they’re satisfied with their vehicles. In a recent JD Power study, Mazda owners ranked this aspect of the 2023 Mazda3 very highly.

Two Mazda3 models parked side by side on a street.
Mazda3 Sedan and Hatchback | Mazda

How JD Power captures what drivers love about their cars

For the past 27 years, JD Power has surveyed vehicle owners, hoping to capture their insights about the models they own. This survey, known as APEAL (Automotive, Performance, Execution, and Layout), is designed for new vehicle owners who have owned their vehicles for more than 90 days.

Within APEAL is a section that asks owners to rank their vehicles in 10 categories, including driving feel. JD Power also asks survey takers to consider how they feel about nine other aspects of their vehicle, including fuel usage, driving comfort, infotainment, safety, the powertrain, the interior, the exterior, vehicle access, and setting up and starting.

Formal JD Power reviews of each vehicle include APEAL study results and the reviewer’s evaluation. And if you look at JD Power’s 2023 Mazda3 review, you’ll find that driving feel was ranked second highest of the 10 categories.

Why Mazda3 owners love how the vehicle feels on the road

It’s not hard to see why Mazda3 owners would love the way their vehicle feels. You can tell from the specs that Mazda has prioritized performance and handling over other vehicle aspects.

The company lets prospective Mazda3 owners choose the body configuration, drive, transmission, and powertrain best suited to their tastes. There’s a sedan or hatchback option, front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and manual or automatic transmission.

Drivers can also opt for either a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder, producing 191 hp and 250 hp, respectively. And JD Power’s reviewer notes that the Mazda3 is quick and responsive, with precise steering, braking, and body control. Between multiple available options and precision engineering, it’s little wonder Mazda3 owners love how their vehicles feel.

Mazda has long prided itself on the driving experience. And while the Mazda3 is now the only sedan it offers, the company’s SUVs enjoy similar praise for their performance on the road.

In terms of what owners didn’t like, reviewers and APEAL respondents noted that it wouldn’t win awards for its infotainment system or fuel efficiency.

What else do owners like about the Mazda3? 

The only Mazda3 attribute APEAL respondents ranked higher than driving feel was exterior styling. Both the sedan and hatchback certainly look stylish, crisp, and modern. And their sleek bodies undoubtedly help the Mazda3 glide in and out of traffic, enhancing their driving feel. 

Mazda3 owners also appreciated the feeling of safety they got inside their vehicles. Intuitively, one might think a vehicle that can ease between lanes effortlessly might not feel like the safest choice.

But Mazda3’s precision handling helps drivers feel in control, which certainly fuels that perception. Mazda also offers an optional i-Activ all-wheel drive that can help drivers maneuver more easily in low traction conditions, which also likely helps. It should be noted that AWD is relatively rare for compact vehicles, making it a viable option for those who live in hilly areas or regions that get a lot of snow.

Owners who opted for the Turbo or Turbo Premium Plus trim received a vehicle with a decidedly high-end interior for the segment. Leather upholstery is complimented with many soft-touch surfaces. Even the lower-level trims offer solid interior fit and finish, which is likely why APEAL respondents ranked the interior as their fourth favorite Mazda3 attribute.

Mazda certainly has a winner with the Mazda3. Even though more drivers are opting for SUVs these days, it’s hard to go wrong with a Mazda3 if you’re looking for your next reasonably priced sedan or hatchback.


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