Thanks for the update. Although we had horrible issues with our Japanese-built 80's Mazda, the newer models seem to be very good, well-built cars. I think a lot of this is due to the fact that Ford took over quality control and really made these cars world-class. Hopefully now that Ford has sold its interest in Mazda, those improvements will continue.
As for the tire-monitoring system, I begged the dealer to unhook this very annoying feature on my car (2007 Mustang). They said they couldn't, so every time I get in the car, I have to press the "reset" button to clear the "low tire pressure" message. Of course, none of the tires ARE low. I understand that this silly feature is now a very expensive requirement on all new cars. Just another example of waste caused by people who are too lazy to LOOK at their tires before getting in their cars. I'd much prefer to have the $600 these sensors added to my car, and look at the tires myself.
Original poster back with an update. After 30K miles, I’m still pleased with my choice of the hatchback Mazda 3. The deal and the financing were both good. No real problems to report, but some small gripes, of course. It’s been a great car, but fuel economy isn’t the greatest. I usually average 24-25 MPG. With that mileage, it should have at some 10-20 more horsepower, similar to 2.4 or 2.5 engines from the other makes.
Got the oil changed and tires rotated at 30K miles, and have been changing and rotating at 5K intervals. I replaced the engine air filter myself (it’s not hard at all, and is very cost effective). I also replaced the cabin air filter (s). That was quite a bit harder, as the location is pretty hard to get to-under the dash and behind the center console. From the looks of all the filters, it was time to change them, and they are effective. The cabin air filter looked as bad or worse than the engine air filter.
The OEM tires should last through another oil change, but maybe not much more than that, we’ll see. They seem to be on par with their tread wear rating, and have provided good wet and dry grip though. The car pulls a little off center, but I’m not sure if it’s the alignment, tires, or road slope. Glad I chose the hatchback over the sedan too. Dropped the back seats, and it held quite a bit of stuff during a move.
Since I bought it, seems like Mazda has gone away from the cheap silver painted console, etc. That’s a good thing. Mine’s kinda scratched up now, but doesn’t look too bad yet. The driver’s seat left bolster is starting to look worn, as is the shift knob. Also, it’s practically impossible to find replacement wiper blade refills, without having to buy the entire blade, which seems wasteful. At least the blade sizes are common, and pretty easy to change, even the rear blade.
Original poster back with the 36K mile update. Bumper to bumper warranty has expired. Nothing much new to report, other than the miles keep racking up. No real problems or issues with the car to speak of. But, if for some reason it doesn't start on the first crank (occasionally), then it doesn't start as quickly on the second try. It takes a little longer to crank, and gives a sense of uneasiness for a few seconds, then it turns over. It has never failed to start though.
Had to replace the OEM tires at about the 36K mark. At the 35k service, they were really worn, but the dealer didn't mention it. They might have lasted a little longer, but I hit a pothole on the way to work. That cracked the sidewall and started a slow leak in the left rear tire. So, I figured I'd replace them all then. Had a good experience with the Walmart T&L shop, but after shopping around, I went with a local tire shop and Kuhmos (they do well in tests, are reasonably priced, and we’ve had a good experience with them).
The car has been everything expected, but I would like better mileage and/or more power from the 2.5. Mazda seems to have fixed that with the new SkyActive 2.5 engine, which hopefully will go in the next gen 3. It'll likely be on my next new car list if so, as long as it's not made in Mexico. Also, this will likely be my last manual tranny in a daily driver. Nothing wrong with it, just tired of shifting, especially in traffic. Mazda's 6 speed auto with the 2.5, in the new 3 would be ideal. I hope Mazda offers this configuration. Zoom, zoom.