2011 Mazda MAZDA3 Comfort & Quality

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Comfort & Quality
There's plenty of legroom in front, but there's one caution for taller folks: with a sunroof, the Mazda3 has compromised headroom that might get in the way for anyone over six feet or so. In back, the accommodations aren't bad at all for a little hatchback; headroom is just adequate for six-footers, while legroom is a bit tight. Fold the backseats down, and they form a low, flat floor large enough in hatchbacks to swallow a small piece of furniture.

Front seats in the 2011 Mazda Mazda3 are more generously sized—with longer cushions—than most in this class, and the available leather buckets are especially nice, with high side bolsters.

Take an up-close look around the interior, and the execution starts to fall apart a bit in the details. The nice hooded gauges are great, and with the fat, small-diameter steering wheel give the 3 a little bit of sports-car feel. Readouts for the audio and climate controls are up high, however changing the climate controls still involves looking far downward; furthermore, the readouts, with one trip-computer screen and another climate-control screen—one in a grey-white and the other in an orange-red, with completely different fonts—leaves something to be desired, aesthetically and functionally. And plastics? Well, they could be better all around.

The 2011 Mazda3's form and function bring plenty of space and versatility to go with its good looks, but the execution's a little lacking up close, with lots of cabin noise and some slightly disappointing materials.

One of its most significant drawbacks to the Mazda3 is cabin noise. Provided you're cruising you won't hear the engine much, but you'll hear tire noise and road coarseness at all times on the highway unless you have the sound system turned up.

Two other recommendations can be avoided by selecting (or not selecting) particular options. Number one: Don't get the sunroof if you're tall, as it cuts severely into available headroom, in a car where it's already borderline tight. Number two: Avoid the lighter-colored interiors; they're the sort that nobody outside the luxury realm does well, and here they serve to emphasize differences in tint and graining. Plus it would be hard to keep clean.

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