2018 marks the fifteenth year of Mazda’s highly popular 3 series. Now in the fifth year of the current (third) generation, the 3 lacked any substantial changes for the 2017 model year save for the BN facelift. 2018, however, promises to be a different story. While the design remains largely the same, you will find a plethora of new features and standard options that either didn’t exist before or were only meant for higher trims.
If you have ever been curious about the Mazda 3 in Albany, this year might be the time to check it out. Coming in both sedan and hatchback styles, the 3 drives like a higher performing car than its design would suggest. Large enough to carry a typical family plus some luggage, the overall profile of the car still retains a good fuel efficiency. Best of all, there are plenty of options to choose from to tailor a new 3 to your exact liking.
So what’s new for 2018? Here are a few different things you should keep an eye on during the upcoming model year.
You won’t find any surprises under the hood of the 2018 Mazda 3. The line still has the same basic options including the two SkyActiv 2.0L and 2.5L engines available through the trimline. The engines range from 155 hp and 184 hp respectively with the base model reaching around 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. Originally, customers opting for the lowest trims were limited to the 2.0L, but the surprising change for 2018 is a redistribution of engine options throughout the trim line.
Now, if people want more power with the same basic trims, they can have it. While the lowest trim is still limited to the 2.0L, people interested in the Touring level have the option to include the 2.5L engine for more horsepower and torque. Other options, however, remain the same, including the six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
This small change might seem fairly insignificant, but it’s a major development for people limited by the price of the higher trims. The 3 is not a sports car by any means, but its advanced handling and 2.5L V4 combination outpace a lot of the competitors in the same category. For anyone who felt the 2.0L was just too lacking, the option for a 2.5L will make them happy.
In fact, this trend of offering more on the lower trims defines the most prominent change for 2018.
Standard Safety Features
Mazda is taking the approach of “more is more” with the 3 line this year. Features that were premium last year have now made their way into the standard category. Thankfully, this trend has started with the more advanced safety features.
We have gotten to the point where advanced safety features like blind spot detection and forward collision prevention systems are available regardless of the make and model. Some cars, trucks, and SUVs do still lag behind, but you would be hard-pressed to find one in the pool of popular, mainstream vehicles that dominate the roads today. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the availability of such systems across different trim levels.
Typically, if you want the best safety package you can find, you will need to add more money into the equation. All of the Mazda models come with a great set of airbags to protect the front and sides of the driver/front passengers. Many of them have also started to offer basic sensor detection on the lower trims and standard blind spot detection on the higher ones.
New for 2018 is Mazda’s i-Activsense safety suite. While the suite itself isn’t actually new, its presence as an addition on the top trim, the Grand Touring, is when choosing the Premium Equipment package. The suite adds a number of warning and automation systems such as lane-departure warning and assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and automatic lights. Previously, the suite was only an individual addon.
New Automatic Braking System
One new addition to the line is Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support. The first impression may suggest this is nothing more than a basic forward collision prevention system, but that would be wrong. This system is designed to work at slower speeds under 20 mph. For city dwellers needing some extra support during their daily drive around town, the system is a gift.
Typical front collision prevention systems are designed for highway or interstate use where accidents can get a lot worse at higher speeds. Reaction times tend to diminish at high speed as well, so it makes sense to have some automatic assistance to prevent a major crash. Unfortunately, these systems rarely function the same way (or at all) at the slower speeds of city or town driving.
The Smart City Brake Support can help prevent a lot of more common accidents that can still be deadly. Using the Distance Recognition Support System, the support will detect cars ahead and sound an alarm when it detects a car that is close in front. If the speed of the Mazda 3 is too high to be safe, the brakes will automatically kick in should the driver fail to act fast enough.
Considering the 2018 Mazda 3
The changes haven’t dramatically redefined the look and feel of the Mazda 3, but they are worth checking out if you are in the market for a new vehicle. Better engine and safety features at a more affordable price can make your driving safer in conditions when your reflexes or reaction time might not be enough to prevent a bad accident.
Best of all, much of what has made the 3 successful has remained. The ability to choose between a sedan and hatchback style allows you to find the best solution for transporting either people or cargo on a single platform. The car’s drivetrain continues to outperform many other cars in its category, particularly with its independent four-wheel suspension system. Inside, the car’s infotainment system offers the same 7in pop-up LCD screen filled with standard apps, Bluetooth connectivity, optional navigation, and voice command. The screen is also controlled by Mazda’s unique rotary controller that makes the operating system safer via the tactile feedback of a physical control.
Since it’s difficult to argue with keeping things that work, it’s not surprising the 2018 Mazda 3 isn’t a completely different animal. For people who like its blend of performance and convenience, anything else simply wouldn’t do.