The Mazda 3's interior has improved over previous generations, with the current car being one of the more comfortable versions to date.
Even still, we'd hesitate to call the Mazda 3 more comfortable than some of its competitors, and beyond the supportive front seats and the hatchback's versatility, the Mazda 3 is only a bit above average and its rear seat is below. We give it a 6 out of 10 on comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Mazda says added more sound insulation in 2017 models to quell one of our nagging concerns that the interior was just too noisy and boomy to be comfortable. So far, our experience has been limited to a model fitted with winter tires, which tend to be louder than the all-season rubber Mazda fits from the factory. That said, our tester was commendably quiet over a 400-mile road trip.
Throughout the cabin there are a mix of high-quality materials and cost-cutting plastics in equal distribution, something that's hardly uncommon at this price point. The dash materials and upholstery trims qualify as nice materials for the class, however we've had issues with the flimsy-feeling headliner and plasticky rear-door panels. To be fair, they're not the only offenders in the class, but it's disheartening when the Mazda 3's gorgeous exterior makes a promise that the interior doesn't' quite match.
By current compact car standards the Mazda 3's ride is a little busier than most. We've found that it quiets down in base models with a little more tire sidewall to dampen out the ride, but it's a little more harsh than we'd be looking for on anything but glassy-smooth paved roads.
We've found the front seats in the Mazda 3 to be supportive and comfortable, with lower cushions that are long enough for taller drivers, and they're among the best in their class, with contrasting perforated-leather upholstery in the Grand Touring feels luxury-caliber. Mazda has enlarged the cushion of the driver's seat and completely redesigned its front seat backs to provide a more natural sitting position and increase lateral support. Rear passengers may find themselves a little cramped on leg room sitting behind a tall driver or tall front-seat passenger, but a little horse trading could go a long way to maximize the available 35.8 inches of rear leg room.
Sedans sport 12.4 cubic feet of cargo room, opting for the hatchback bumps that number up to 20.2 cubic feet with all the seats in place. Fold the rear seats down in the hatchback and that room improves to 47.1 cubic feet of cargo room, which is roughly the same size as the Chevy Cruze hatch.
We’d advise against the moonroof, because it brings a very odd, scooped-out headliner that will leave taller passengers feeling like the roof is bowing around them. Rear occupants sit almost 2 inches higher than in the old car, but the way the rising window line limits window space still makes it one of the more claustrophobic small-car experiences—especially in the hatchback.
If you’re mainly planning to use the Mazda 3’s front seats, that might not matter; for the most part this compact-car family offers pleasing interior appointments, and even the look and feel of a premium-brand vehicle in some respects.