The compact-car segment spans quite the range in purpose, ranging from the very frugal, simple, and pragmatic, to more comfort-oriented, to downright sporty.
The 2014 Mazda 3 falls in that latter group, next to only the Ford Focus, for the sportiest driving feel of the group.
The Focus, like the Mazda3, has a taut ride, and a very responsive driving feel overall; while we tend to like the Mazda3’s dash better than that of the Focus, the Focus is better behind the front seats.
The Volkswagen Golf is also fun to drive, but it's now aging (a new one is due for 2015) and short on infotainment features for the price.
The Chevrolet Cruze is at the other end of the spectrum; it’s super-spacious, with a back seat that feels like it could be that of a mid-size sedan, and its ride is quiet and absorbent while there’s nothing exciting about the driving experience.
The Dodge Dart, like the Corolla and Cruze, is only offered as a sedan, but it offers a wider range of powertrains as well as a far more spacious interior—all with quite a bit of comfort yet a sporty design.
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|27 MPG City / 41 MPG Hwy||22 MPG City / 41 MPG Hwy||23 MPG City / 37 MPG Hwy||22 MPG City / 41 MPG Hwy||25 MPG City / 36 MPG Hwy||23 MPG City / 42 MPG Hwy|
|Regular Unleaded I-4||Regular Unleaded I-4||Regular Unleaded I-4||Regular Unleaded I-4||Regular Unleaded H-4||Regular Unleaded I-5|
|Compact Cars||Mid-Size Cars||Compact Cars||Compact Cars||Compact Cars||Compact Cars|
|4-Door Sedan Manual i SV||4-Door Sedan SE||4-Door Sedan S||4-Door Manual LX||4-Door Manual 2.0i||4-Door HB Automatic PZEV|
|Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||All Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive|
|Manual w/OD||Manual w/OD||Manual w/OD||Manual w/OD||Manual w/OD||Automatic w/OD|