No Mazda 3 has been side-tested recently, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested a previous-year Mazda 3 without side airbags, and the results of the test weren’t pretty. While it received a "good" rating for the front offset impact test, it earned a "poor"—the lowest rating—for the side test. Now that side bags are standard across the line, results should be better. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) frontal-impact crash tests, the 2009 Mazda 3 scored four (out of five) stars.
Side and curtain airbags are now standard on the Mazda 3, but electronic stability control is still limited to top trims.
Motor Trend notes that with its short hood and ample glass, the 2009 Mazda 3 will let drivers see well. Only in the hatchback will the C-pillars "cause some blind spots.”