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2016 Mazda 3 Grand Touring review notes


The Mazda 3 GT lives perpetually in the shadow of the Ford Focus and the Honda Civic, but I don’t really understand why. The Civic and Focus are both good cars, but neither drive as well as the Mazda 3. In fact, everything about this car has a slight edge over the sedan version of both the Focus and the Civic.

The interior is spacious and well appointed, and the car gets going surprisingly well considering the modest 155 hp from the Skyactiv 2.0-liter I4. You might consider the available 2.5-liter I4 on the s Grand Touring model, as it bumps the output to 184 hp, but the price jumps too. The six-speed manual transmission provides precise shifts with short throws, keeping the engine in the powerband for a sporty, capable daily driver. There isn’t a lot of dive on braking, and the suspension has a good blend of comfort and control. The brakes are firm, but not grabby -- it's all perfect for an easy-to-drive daily workhorse.

The Mazda Miata is the quintessential roadster.

Fun, distilled

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata drive review


What is it?

It’s the prototype for all modern roadsters. It’s springtime, it’s road trips, it’s what every car should feel like behind the wheel. It’s the legendary Mazda Miata, and it’s all new. And, in a time when cars are getting heavier, busier and softer, the MX-5 gets lighter, simpler and more lovable.

Power is down. That’s right, down from the last generation, but weight is down, too, enough to improve the power-to-weight ratio by a few ticks. The Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter four delivers 155 hp at 6,000 rpm and 148 lb-ft of twist. In our MX-5 Club trim tester, it was mated to a six-speed manual, a unit so good it should be standard equipment in every car, from the Cadillac Escalade to the Tata Nano.

The torque curve keeps 250 lb-ft at 3,000 to 6,000 rpm and peaks at 270 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm.

Skip the minivan

2015 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring review notes


EDITOR WES RAYNAL: This 2015 Mazda CX-9 is one of (if not the) most delightful three-row crossovers on the market -- good-looking inside and out, crisp handling, nice cockpit, and decent power.

It’s about perfect if you need minivan utility but don’t want a, well, minivan. As crossovers go, it’s fun and responsive with good steering and buttoned-down handling, and the 3.7-liter moves it along nicely. Frankly, it feels quite a bit lighter than it is.

It feels smaller, too. Here’s where packaging must be brought up, because it’s big enough to haul darn near anything, but for a three-row, it feels more CX-5 sized.

This is a Mazda after all, a company that knows how to do fun.

For the 2015 model year, all Mazda 5 vehicles will be equipped with a standard five-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission with a manual shift mode.

2015 Mazda 5 Grand Touring review notes


DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: You don’t realize how much cars have changed in the last few years until you get into one that hasn’t. Our 2015 Mazda 5 Grand Touring tester could easily have been mistaken for our long-term 2012 model of a few years past, but when U.S. sales struggle to break 1,000 units a month, extensive updates aren’t going to be in the cards.

That’s OK -- the Mazda 5 doesn’t owe anyone an apology. It’s hardly cutting-edge, but it offers a good feature set, outstanding utility and typical Mazda driving dynamics in a $25,000 package. It’s impossible to make mini-minivan styling look cool, but the Mazda 5, with its swoopy Kodo-design style lines, pulls it off far more effectively than the Euro-utilitarian Ford Transit Connect, the wagon version of which may be the Mazda 5’s sole apples-to-apples competitor.

The Mazda 3 continues to offer a sporty feel, but it’s not held back by some of the compromises that the Miata has to contend with, making it an easier all-weather car to live with.

2015 Mazda 3 s Grand Touring 4-Door review notes


ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAY RAMEY: I’m pleased to report that the 2015 Mazda 3 s Grand Touring 4-Door reminded me of the 2014 MX-5 Miata that I recently drove, and in a good way. The handling offered by the sedan certainly offered a familiar connection to the Miata that could be readily felt, especially in the chassis behavior and steering feel. And those qualities that it shared with the Miata were not in any way diluted by the items that one gets as a no-cost extra in the Miata, such as an overly-upright seating position that cannot really be adjusted. The Mazda 3 continues to offer a sporty feel, but it’s not held back by some of the compromises that the Miata has to contend with, making it an easier all-weather car to live with.

I found the cabin to be well put together, despite a few bits of plastic that were perhaps too hard for their own good (like the elbow rests), and one that offered great visibility and ergonomics. The only missteps when it came to equipment in the cabin seemed to be a heads-up display that features a speedometer readout. It’s there by default because the instrument cluster lacks an analog speedometer dial, and is dominated by the tachometer.

The 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata improves on its predecessor in almost every way with a personality more like the original NA Miata

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata first drive


What is it?

“I really hope we don’t screw this up,” said Mazda chief designer Derek Jenkins.

Speaking at the 2016 Mazda MX-5 press launch last summer in Monterey, Jenkins confessed that getting to work on the fourth-generation Miata was a combination of outrageous good fortune and trepidation. After all, in the pantheon of cars that define brands, the Mazda MX-5 Miata ranks alongside hallowed halos like the Porsche 911, Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Mustang. When redesigning such a car, failure -- while always an option in the auto biz – means more than a bad sales year. It can stand for lack of vision within a company that translates to a longer-term loss of consumer interest in a company’s mass-market products. 

2015 Mazda 6 i Touring review notes


WEST COAST EDITOR MARK VAUGHN: When I saw the Mazda Takeri concept car at the 2011 Tokyo motor show I thought, “Hey, that’s a really nice take on a midsized sedan, but not so far out that it’s unbuildable. I bet they can produce it just as it is.” And they did. So if you find yourself wading into the celebration of the bland that is the midsized sedan segment, don’t despair. You may be forced by circumstance to buy a car of these dimensions and costs, but you don’t have to sacrifice sculptural automotive design to get it.

Likewise, you don’t have to give up practicality, either. Heck, you don’t even have to give up a manual transmission. We all drove what may be the budget enthusiast’s last best hope in this, the biggest car segment in America -- the 2015 Mazda 6 i Touring.

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PRHT review notes


ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: The 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata is just a joy to drive. I wasn’t a fan back in the day; I thought it was a girl’s car. My friend’s dad had one that he raced, but that’s all I knew. When I finally got in one, I understood.

A recent morning was perfect for dropping the top, about 75 degrees and sunny. I threw on the sunglasses and took a leisurely drive up Woodward Avenue to work. The wind blows; you can hear the sounds of the road and smell the smells of the city. I would consider driving the MX-5 “enjoying nature.” It’s a full five-sense experience.

Sure power is just barely serviceable at 167 hp, but its so damn fun to wring this thing out for everything it’s got. The clutch pedal catches low and early, and the throw on the shifter is short, perfect for lightning-quick gear changes. Steering is on point, and it’s pretty easy to kick the tail out when necessary.

The sportiest entry in the midsize sedan segment.

2015 Mazda 6i Grand Touring review notes


EDITOR WES RAYNAL: What a delightful car this 2015 Mazda 6i Grand Touring is. I can’t think of anything I don’t like about it. That’s rare for me to say about a car -- at any price.

The exterior looks terrific, swoopy for a midsize sedan (of course it could be the other entries in this class are so dull) and just the right amount of chrome in the right places. Ditto the interior. It looks good, the materials are good (huge improvement over the old 6) and are well assembled, and the controls are intuitive and easy to use.

There’s enough oomph from the smooth and responsive four-cylinder to keep things interesting (above 3,000 rpm). When the car is at a stop light it feels and sounds like the engine shut off. It idles that smoothly.

I like the automatic transmission, too.

The chassis is among the best front-driver on the market. Ride/handling is taut, cornering is flat and body control excellent. The steering is for the most part accurate -- it wanders a tiny bit on center, not much. The harder you drive it, the more you fling it around, the better it is. It is a precise car.

Still having fun with Mazda's MX-5 Miata.

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club PRHT review notes

06/25/2014 EXECUTIVE EDITOR RORY CARROLL: With the somewhat recent introduction of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, we've seen the old stalwart among cheap sports cars, the Mazda MX-5, be ignored by a lot of press and enthusiasts. That's a real shame, because Mazda's continued to be there for enthusiasts with its little roadster since the early 1990s while almost every other car maker has been content to make an appearance from time to time. Part of the reason Mazda has been able to do that is that the MX-5 is and always has been a great little car. And, yeah, this one's not as little as some of the ones that have preceded it, but it's still relatively light, rear-wheel drive and it comes with a manual transmission. The Club edition that we recently tested had a folding hardtop roof, which I could go without, even if it would be invaluable for “Miata as only car” types in rainy or occasionally cold climates. Don't laugh, they're out there. The interior in the Miata is pret

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