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Mazda makes SUVs of all sizes, from the subcompact CX-30 to the larger CX-90. The latter is even available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, offering 30 miles of range. The MX-30 EV only has 100 miles of range, but at least you can quickly juice up the battery. The manufacturer also still offers one sedan model. So, what are the top Mazda models you may want to consider when car shopping.

The 2023 Mazda3 is a close second

The Mazda3 might not be the best compact sedan, but it’s one of the only ones with optional all-wheel drive. The Mazda3 has a standard 191-hp four-cylinder engine and an available turbo-four that makes up to 250 hp. Both are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, though the hatchback models offer a six-speed manual with the FWD drivetrain.

The Mazda3 offers good handling and acceleration, especially with the upgraded engine. While its fuel economy is on par with the Miata’s, other small sedans are less thirsty. Additionally, the stiff suspension only mutes so many bumps in the road, and the steering wheel can be short on feedback.

While the Mazda3 hatchback has over 20 cu-ft of storage, the standard sedan body style only offers 13 cu-ft. With 35 inches of legroom available, the Mazda3’s second row also isn’t the most inviting. 

The model also lacks a touch display, forcing you to rely on the physical rotary dial near the shifter. Still, the touchscreen is bigger than the Miata’s, and the Mazda3 showcases great exterior and interior design language overall. Both cars are great options for signature Mazda performance at competitive prices.

MotorTrend loves this Mazda most

A Mazda logo on a Mazda MX-5, one of the top Mazda models, with a blurred Mazda logo in the background.
Mazda MX-5 | Getty Images

MotorTrend says that the Miata isn’t just the best Mazda: it’s also the most attractive option in the performance convertible category. The Mazda Miata has a rear-wheel-drive setup and a 181-hp four-cylinder under the hood. The Grand Touring trim gets a six-speed automatic transmission, while the others have a six-speed manual gearbox.

Despite it being smaller than many of the engines in competing cars, MotorTrend was satisfied with the four-cylinder’s acceleration. The Miata Club can also have optional Brembo front brakes, plus it has standard Bilstein dampers and a limited-slip differential. These carry over to the Grand Touring trim, with leather seats and a few extra safety features.

The six-speed manual is the most engaging gearbox option, and it helps the Miata earn 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. Models with the automatic transmission are just slightly more efficient on highway roads, earning 35 mpg.

Every Mazda Miata has a soft-top roof with a manual crank. The Miata Club and Grand Touring can have an optional hard-top roof with automatic controls, but the soft-top still offers the fastest performance.

The Mazda Miata isn’t right for everyone 

The Mazda Miata only has two seats, both offering less than 37 inches of headroom. Because of its light curbweight, the Miata is also prone to some body roll around corners. The trunk only has approximately 4.5 cu-ft of cargo area, so you can only store the smallest items inside.

The Mazda Miata also has a 7-inch touchscreen inside that proved too small for MotorTrend’s liking. Like many other Mazda cars, you also can’t control the touchscreen unless the car is parked or idling. The combination of using the center rotary dial with squinting at a tiny screen can prove to be a big distraction.

However, as MotorTrend reminds us, the main appeal of the Miata is its driving experience. It’s also one of the most accessible sports cars you can buy at $28,050.


3 Best Qualities of the Mazda CX-5 and 3 of the Worst, According to MotorTrend