The Mazda3 Has A Major Downside if You’re Looking for a Family Car

The Mazda3 is definitely at the top of its class. Its upscale Signature trim is appealing with wits luxury imitation. You’ve got to love MotorTrend’s Ed Loh use of the word “handsome” when he describes the Mazda3 interior. Though the 2019 redesign saw a loss of some of the sport that was the Mazda3‘s previous claim to fame, the upgraded interior quality and exterior style set this compact car apart from the rest. But is the Mazda3 a good family car? Yes, maybe. Except for one major downside.

2020 Mazda Mazda3
2020 Mazda Mazda3 | Mazda

How many child safety seats can you fit in a Mazda3?

According to, you can easily fit two––not three–– child safety seats in the rear passenger space of the 2020 Mazda3. The LATCH system is easy to locate and there is a rear tether behind all three seats to allow for options when its comes to arranging car seats. With the car seats installed, there is still––if just barely––enough legroom for the folks up front.

But in the Mazda3 family car review with Baby Drive, the rear looks a little…tiny. This is the Mazda3’s biggest let down as a family car. Though the car seat installation was practical and the Mazda3 has been an IIHS Top Safety Pick for each year since its redesign, the back seats aren’t really big enough to classify this compact car as family friendly.

The back seat is just too small

Unlike the Toyota Corolla and the Dodge Challenger who each claim top ten positions on Autobytel‘s list of cars with the biggest back seats, the Mazda3 has tight rear seating space. This is obviously a major downside for anyone who wants to safely seat their tiny loved ones in the back row.

Specs on, for example, show the 2020 Mazda3 offers a measured 35.1 inches of rear legroom. The more spacious 2020 Toyota Corolla boasts 41.4 inches of legroom for its back seat passengers. Over 6 inches is enough to be a deal breaker.

Everyone is talking about the Mazda3’s tiny back seat

The collective opinion at MotorTrend isn’t as keen on the 2019 and 2020 Mazda3 as the compact car’s older model years. But there is still ample praise given for its user-friendly infotainment, valuable standard safety and driver-assist features, and plush interior upgrades. Yet one of the worst issues with the Mazda3 are the “tight passenger space.”

The Consumer Reports review gave the Mazda3 a decent overview as well. But again the 2020 Mazda3 fell short. CR comments: “The cabin is relatively quiet and nicely finished, but the rear seat is snug.”

a gray Mazda 3 parked in the city
Mazda 3 Sedan

The same goes for the U.S. News and World Report review, where one of the 2020 Mazda3’s cons is posted as “cramped rear seats.” The opinion holds true for professionals across the board. The Mazda3 has a back seat that will hold car seats, but it won’t exactly lug around 3 teenagers. And you better hope the people in front aren’t too tall, or they may feel a little smooshed with the child safety seats behind them.

Is the 2020 Mada3 a good family car?

a gray sedan and a red hatchback from a sky view.
Mazda 3 and its hatchback counterpart | Mazda

Car Seat Upgrades: How to Know It’s Time to Buy a New Car Seat

The 2020 Mazda3 represents itself well among other compact cars. Its multiple awards are well earned, but it may not be the best for a family. While the trunk and hatch cargo are enough, the tight rear seats are a major downside if you’re looking for a family car.