The car was new to me towards the end of 2009 as I was off to college. Leaving Utah for Montana I attached a ski rack and snow tires with studs to get me through the Missoula winters (up there they don’t salt the roads so snow can remain on the streets for days after a storm). The car was a silver 5-speed manual. I tinted the windows near black, de-badged the car, and painted the front “M” black. The license plate read “Malarky” as an ode to a nickname of mine from my time playing high school sports. I thought I was cool, and I thought my car was a cool extension of myself. I wasn’t entirely wrong, this vehicle provided more than I would have expected for the last 8 years.
For what you’re getting in a compact sedan, the Mazda 3 looks pretty nice. When the badges came off, the front logo made black, and the windows were tinted the car had a fresh look to it. Granted, it wasn’t a Porsche 911, and yes, there were thousands of other silver Mazda 3’s driving around the same town, but it didn’t look like another beater-college-kid-car. It had character, and you could pick it out from others because of the slight alterations.
Gas Mileage (4.5/5)
It’s not a hybrid, so getting 25 mpg routinely was pretty awesome. I probably could have averaged better, but I have a lead foot and like getting to places faster than most.
Carrying Capacity (3/5)
Sure, once I took 5 of us skiing by placing the skis on the rack and all the gear in the trunk, but I’m sure glad I was driving and not sitting in the middle seat in the back. I loved road trips in this car, but it was way more comfortable for the people in the front seat.
It doesn’t have a turbo, and it’s only a 4-cylinder. But I’d end up going over 100 mph on accident (sorry mom).
Once I drove this car up The Great Divide Ski Resort. That’s right, right up the mountain. Sure it was a little sketchy trying to avoid big bumps and holes, but I did better than the jeep in front of me (a younger teenager ended up in a ditch in his Jeep Wrangler). Now that I drive a truck, I have a better peace of mind when I’m off paved roads, but that Mazda got me places it really shouldn’t have. With it’s front-wheel drive, and when it has studded tires, snow just isn’t a problem. I can’t even see how having all wheel drive would really even benefit. Overall, I have been impressed at just how capable this car is.
I put 100,000 miles on this car, and the only time it broke down was when the clutch went out. The car still drives just fine and seems to be able to go on indefinitely.
Resell Value (4/5)
The car was purchased for $10k 8 years ago. It’s bluebook value is close to $4k and there are Mazda 3’s listed for more than that. Getting close to half your money back after 8 years and 100k miles is pretty good.
This car is a perfect commuter car. It’s great for road trips as long as there are less than 5 people in the car. Because of the lack of maintenance on the car, how capable it is in most conditions, and it’s initial price, I’d choose a Mazda 3 over any other sedan in it’s price range. The Malarky Mobile (as I’ve come to call it) has been everything I needed it to be and more. Now that I drive a truck, I won’t be using the Mazda much, but I may still rely on her to commute or take road trips when camping isn’t involved.