Are Mazdas good cars? Are Mazdas reliable? You might be surprised.
Mazda is the little Japanese automaker that could, one that is often overlooked by car buyers despite having a compelling lineup of vehicles.
Even though the company doesn’t have the scale or abundant financial resources that larger manufacturers like Toyota, Volkswagen, and General Motors enjoy, it manages to more than hold its own in every vehicle segment it competes in.
But are Mazdas good cars? As you will find out in our analysis of Mazda, there is a lot to like about the company and its overachieving cars.
IN THIS GUIDE
About Mazda Cars
Founded in 1920 originally as a cork maker, Mazda has gone through a lot over the century, learning, growing, and evolving to become one of the most respected names in the automotive industry. It is best known today for making fun, economical, fuel-efficient, and attractive vehicles.
But even though Mazda is a very reputable brand, its long, enduring tenure in the automotive industry hasn’t translated into the brand becoming anywhere near as popular or financially secure as Japan’s Big 3, preventing it from competing in every vehicle segment.
Even so, the company plays hard in the segments it competes, and it does so by building nicely-styled, fun-to-drive cars that have all the qualities people look for in a good car.
Here are all the models Mazda currently sells in North America (U.S., Canada, and Mexico):
The Mazda3 is the model most associated with Mazda and one of the brand’s best best-sellers. Available in both hatchback and sedan body styles, it’s versatile, reasonably affordable, fuel-efficient, and engaging to drive.
The same can be said about the Mazda2, a smaller car better suited for city driving, as well as the larger, more upscale Mazda6 sedan.
In the ever-so-popular SUV segment, Mazda challenges and often beats best-selling crossovers from Toyota, Honda, and Nissan with the athletic subcompact CX-3, compact CX-5, and midsize CX-9 crossovers. It recently introduced the CX-30, which offers the best of the Mazda3 but in a crossover body style.
Of course, we can’t talk about Mazda without mentioning the iconic MX-5 Miata. Built from the ground up to be a driver’s car, it offers so much fun and enjoyment for so little money that it’s often considered legendary in a similar vein to the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette.
Unfortunately, given its meager resources, the company doesn’t have much of a presence in the hybrid and electric car space. Its first electrified vehicle, the MX-30, is promising; however, additional models will be needed to capitalize on the electric car movement.
Are Mazdas Good Cars
It should be pretty clear by now that Mazda makes good cars. However, to see how good they truly are, we need a more in-depth analysis of how well the company has been making and positioning its cars.
Safety should be the number one deciding factor when buying a car. How does Mazda fare in this metric? Excellently!
The company’s latest cars have performed extremely well in independent safety assessments across the world. In North America, all but one of its models earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s 2021 Top Safety Pick+ status, the highest possible rating.
The CX-3 subcompact crossover earned a 2021 Top Safety Pick award “(no “+”), the second highest score and a very good showing.
Mazdas perform similarly well on the Euro NCAP, ASEAN NCAP, and Latin NCAP, the safety assessments organizations for the European, Asian, and South American markets, respectively.
Not only are they engineered to withstand collisions very well, but they also boast the latest driver-assistance technologies to reduce the risk of collisions.
Mazda calls its suite of collision-avoidance features “i-Activsense”, and it includes everything from forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking to adaptive headlights.
So, are Mazdas safe? Yes. Mazda’s cars perform at the highest caliber in safety assessment tests across the world.
Are Mazdas Reliable?
Toyotas have a reputation for being the most reliable cars in the world, but Mazdas aren’t all too shabby either. In fact, with the way Mazda has been performing on reliability assessments in recent years, you would think it’s the world’s most reliable brand, not Toyota.
In Consumer Reports’ 2020 reliability survey, Mazda replaced Lexus as the most reliable brand of the year, earning a score of 83 out of 100. Toyota came in second with a score of 80.
The company came in second place in the publication’s 2019 assessment, with a third-place Toyota lagging it once again.
Other reputable indices consistently place Mazda in the upper echelon of reliability. On the UK’s ReliabilityIndex, for instance, the brand achieved an impressive score of 65.00, placing it 5th for 2020.
In its 2021 reliability assessment, RepairPals gave the company an overall rating of 4.0 out of 5.0, ranking it 5th out of 32 brands, ahead of 8th place Toyota and 9th place Nissan.
RepairPals found that the average Mazda undergoes unscheduled repairs approximately 0.4 times a year, which is about average. Of those repairs, only 10 percent are considered serious and expensive, compared to a 12 percent average for all brands.
What this means is that the most reliable Mazdas can easily last 250,000 to 300,000 miles (402,336 – 482,803 km) or 10 years if driven and maintained properly.
So, are Mazdas reliable? Yes. Japanese car manufacturers are well known around the world for making dependable and reliable vehicles, and Mazda is no exception. The brand has even been performing better than Toyota in some reliability assessments and indices.
Mazda stands head and shoulders above the competition with regard to ride and handling. Whereas most mainstream automakers reserve the fun and excitement for only their sports cars, the company goes the extra mile to make all its cars fun to drive.
This “drive” (pun intended) to provide owners with more driving enjoyment than other mainstream brands was the inspiration for the “Zoom Zoom” catchphrase the company previously used to advertise its vehicles.
Needless to say, Mazdas typically provide better steering, braking, and maneuverability than the competition. A Mazda3, for instance, is more fun to drive than a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic, while a Mazda6 is sportier than a Camry or Accord.
This sportiness doesn’t come at the expense of ride comfort and fuel-efficiency as you probably imagined. Mazda has a philosophy of engineering every part of its cars to work seamlessly together to achieve the perfect balance between ride, handling, power, and fuel efficiency.
The company’s entire lineup is proof that family cars and daily commuters don’t have to be boring to drive. If you’re looking for a safe, reliable, fuel-efficient, and reasonably affordable ride that has a soul, you know where to look.
So, are Mazdas good to drive? Yes. Once referred to as the poor man’s BMW, Mazda has made it a mission to build the most engaging vehicles in every segment it competes in, vehicles that deliver a perfect blend of power, comfort, and handling.
Every new Mazda, from the small Mazda2 to the large CX-6, is available with the modern tech and convenience features you’d expect of their respective class, including Keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and fast USB charging.
WiFi hotspot, Wireless charging, 360-degree surround-view cameras, dual-zone climate systems, heated seats and steering wheel, and head-up displays are other popular features you can expect.
Indeed, Mazda offers virtually every tech and convenience feature on its cars, especially the larger models, so you won’t be found wanting.
The company is a laggard in the autonomous driving space, but it expects all its models to have Level 2 and above self-driving capabilities by 2025.
So, do Mazdas have good convenience features? Yes. Mazda’s cars are offered with the latest tech and convenience features, and all of them will have autonomous driving technology by 2025.
Mazda is a pipsqueak compared to industry giants like Toyota and Volkswagen. Once a mainstream brand that sold mostly on price, the company has gradually shifted into the premium segment in an effort to offset its size discrepancy and set itself apart from the crowd.
So whereas as past Mazdas competed directly with Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and the usual suspects, today’s models now play in the premium luxury field with the likes of Acura and Buick, offering a higher level of luxury and refinement than your average mainstream vehicle, especially the ones that compete on price.
Mazda tends to charge a little bit more for its vehicles than other mainstream brands, as a result, though you won’t be paying Mercedes or BMW level prices.
Used Mazdas, especially older generations, are cheaper than used Toyotas and Hondas, however, but on par with the industry average. This has more to do with Toyota and Honda’s ironclad reputation for reliability than anything else, though Mazda vehicles of the past were known to have serious rusting issues.
This is likely to change as Mazda solidifies its position as one of the most reliable car brands in the world.
If you’re thinking about buying a used Mazda or any other used car, read our used car buying guide for some good tips.
So, are Mazdas affordable? Yes and no. Mazda has become more of a premium brand and, therefore, charges a higher price for its vehicles than the average mainstream automaker. However, used Mazdas are more affordable than used Hondas and Toyotas.
Cost Of Ownership
Mazdas typically have a low cost of ownership. Their slightly above-average price is offset by a low depreciation rate, above-average fuel efficiency, and low maintenance and repair costs.
According to RepairPals reliability assessment, the average scheduled maintenance and unscheduled repair cost for Mazda’s models is $$462 annually, which is better than the $652 average for all models evaluated.
Interestingly, it’s not uncommon for Mazdas to have above-average insurance costs, due largely to the company’s reputation for building fun-to-drive cars, which insurance companies believe encourage owners to drive more recklessly.
Either way, while not as cheap to own as, say, Toyotas and Hondas, Mazda’s cars have one of the lowest costs of ownership in the industry.
So, are Mazdas cheap to own? For the most part, yes. Despite having slightly above average prices and insurance rates, Mazdas typically have lower depreciation, better fuel efficiency, and lower maintenance and repair costs than industry averages.
Mazdas look as good as they drive and are universally considered to be attractive vehicles.
Mazda’s cars are not as bland as Toyotas and Hondas, nor are they polarizing like French cars. On the contrary, they tend to have a sporty, athletic, and mature look that reflects their fun-to-drive orientation.
As part of the company’s efforts to cultivate a more upscale image, certain models are even starting to look like luxury cars inside and out. Look at any modern Mazda interior you can see a BMW and Audi influence.
If you like your cars to be attractive but not showy or ostentatious, Mazda is the manufacturer for you.
So, do Mazdas look good? Yes. Looks are very subjective, but Mazda is well-known for designing cars that most people find attractive. Mazdas are neither boring nor polarizing but rather sporty and even classy without being too in-your-face.
Mazda Cars FAQs
If you want to learn more about the quality of Mazda’s vehicles, keep reading.
Do Mazda Cars Last Long?
Yes, Mazdas have above-average reliability, and it’s not uncommon for them to last 150,000 to 200,000 miles (241,402-321,869 km) without serious problems.
Depending on how extensively they are used and maintained, some models such as the Mazda3 can even last 250,000 to 300,000 miles (402,336-482,803 km), if not longer.
Are Mazdas Expensive To Fix?
According to RepairPal, the average repair cost of Mazdas is around 41 percent lower than the average for all vehicles, and there is only a 10 percent probability of a repair being severe and, therefore, very expensive.
In other words, Mazdas are some of the cheapest cars to maintain.
Is Mazda Better Than Toyota?
Mazda competes very well against Toyota, but it would be a stretch to say it’s the better brand. Mazdas tend to have sportier driving dynamics and more refined interiors, while Toyotas lean more towards the comfort side.
Toyota has long been the paragon of reliability; however, Mazda has improved so much in recent years that it beat Toyota in Consumer Reports’ 2019 and 2020 reliability surveys.
Why Aren’t Mazdas As Popular As Toyotas Or Hondas?
Mazda is less popular than Toyota, Honda, and other mainstream car brands largely because it lacks their extensive dealer network, market penetration, and brand reputation.
Moreover, as well-made, fun-to-drive, and attractive as Mazdas are, they simply don’t have an X factor that lures masses of buyers to them.
Hyundai and Kia, for instance, offer buyers incredible value and very long warranties, while Subaru has managed to carve out a loyal niche for itself.
Mazda is well-known for making comfortable, “fun-to-drive” cars. The scrappy Japanese automaker isn’t as big or popular as hometown rivals Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, but it plays hard.
Mazdas are as safe as cars come, if not safer, and are said to drive and handle almost like BMWs, which cost significantly more. Car enthusiasts will especially love them.
Like Toyotas and Hondas, these cars are built to last and have incredible reliability. Many recent dependability surveys even place Mazda above Toyota and Honda, the brands most associated with reliability.
The company is up to date as far as tech, convenience, and driver assistance features are concerned, providing its cars with the newest and best innovations.
While a little bit more expensive than other mainstream cars, Mazdas are nevertheless affordable vehicles that provide a comparable level of performance and refinement to cars costing much more.
Finally, you get all of these excellent qualities in a very attractive package. Mazda makes some of the best-looking cars on the road.
So, are Mazdas good cars? Yes. They offer everything you could want in a car, and it’s a shame they are not more popular.