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2004 Mazda 3 Review

Just Add Oil and Stir

A side view of a blue 2004 Mazda 3

In short: A sporty and good-looking hatchback.

A Mazda 323 “station wagon” put us all through college and 120,000 miles later, with only oil changes as a maintenance program, we acquired respect for the reliability of the brand and later went on to purchase an equally reliable and economical 626 hatchback.

The Mazda 3 was a throw back in time and we simply fell in love with the car all over again. At $16,895 MSRP we think it’s a good value but when we added on the leather seats, navigation system, moon roof, xenon headlights, enhanced braking system and 6-CD-package, the bottom line hit $22,154. Still, it’s a good deal, especially if you factor in the trouble-free reputation.

A three-quarter rear view of a blue 2004 Mazda 3 A front three-quarter view of a blue 2004 Mazda 3

Okay, so it won’t take pole position at any racetrack, but it felt quite stable and sure-footed and delivers consistent power. You get the five-door split-fold rear seats for versatility and a very easy car to drive in the city. An all-aluminum variable-valve-timing engine propels you effortlessly on freeways. We certainly appreciated the smooth gear box with short throws and the slightly hard clutch reminding us of much pricier sports cars.

Read a review of the 2010 Mazda 3 i SV and the 2007 Mazdaspeed 3

A view of the 2004 Mazda 3's interior

Warranty/Service: 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with 24-hour roadside assistance.

Base Price: $17,105 / As tested: $22,145

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 5-door hatchback

Engine: 2.3-liter inline 4 cylinder
Horsepower: 160 bhp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 150 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual

Curb weight: 2,826 lbs
Wheelbase: 103.9 in
176.6/69.1/57.7 in
Turning circle: 34.1 ft

Brakes: 4-wheel disc with optional ABS
independent front and rear

0-60 mph:
7.4 seconds (est.)
Top Speed: 118 mph (governed)

EPA City: 25 mpg
EPA Highway: 32 mpg

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Photography: Walter Mladina

(Updated: 04/24/09 SV)

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