The 2017 Mazda3 provides more evidence of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) technology trickling down to more affordable cars. Between the luxury of the 2017 Volvo S90 and the Spartan appeal of the 2017 Toyota Yaris lies the Mazda3 in the middle ground.
In order to get all of the ADAS goodness, you have to begin with the Grand Touring trim level, which starts at $24,195. Then you have to add the Premium package, which adds LED headlights that turn on and off automatically, a navigation system, and a not unwelcome heated steering wheel for $1,600. Then you can add the i-ACTIVSENSE package, where you find all of the ADAS tech, for $1,100. This all added up to $27,930 for the test car, including the delivery fee.
The systems in the Mazda3 Grand Touring with all the extra options worked as well as they do in more expensive vehicles. The automatic emergency braking, which Mazda calls Smart City Brake Support, scrubs about 20 mph from your speed. At speeds below 20 mph, it will bring the car all the way to a stop. Radar cruise control helped at highway speeds and in stop-and-go traffic, which is just as important for relieving some of the driver’s cognitive load. The safety suite also included lane keeping assist and traffic sign recognition.
The Mazda3 has a little fold-away HUD screen on top of the dashboard called the Active Driving Display. I liked it better than I expected to; Mazda says it’s improved the crispness of the display, and it seemed very readable to me.
Unlike the 2017 Toyota Yaris, which has the basic ADAS features for under $17,000, the base-level Mazda3 sport, which starts at a comparable $17,845, doesn’t have any ADAS stuff. You can’t even add it as an option. So tech isn’t trickling down that far for every manufacturer quite yet.
The Mazda3 doesn’t have parallel parking assist or anything like autonomous driving capabilities. But it does pack a lot of tech into a mid-priced four-door sedan that gets 30 mpg according to the EPA rating, even with the respectable 184 hp coming from the 4-cylinder engine. And — don’t forget — a heated steering wheel.