Mazda’s entry-level compact, which underwent a dramatic redesign for 2019, notched five-star ratings across the board: frontal crash, side crash and rollover crash tests. The Mazda3 has also been named Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, with top scores on all crash tests and ease of use of the LATCH child-seat system, but an acceptable rating for its headlights as the only slight ding.
Mazda opted to make its i-Activsense safety technology system standard on the 3 for 2020. It covers NHTSA’s recommendations of having forward collision warning, lane departure warning, crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support, and it adds features like blind-spot monitoring, driver attention alert, automatic on-off LED headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The fourth-generation car also got a stiffer body with a 10-fold increase in high-strength steel and a revamped suspension.
Mazda sold 50,741 examples of the Mazda3 last year, which made it the automaker’s No. 2 nameplate, though well behind the CX-5, which moved 154,545 units. Sales in January were off 45.7% from the prior year, when the new version wasn’t yet on sale, suggesting that despite its distinctive looks and accolades from the motoring press, the Mazda3 is fighting an uphill battle against crossover-dom.