2014 Mazda 3

The key is the company’s Skyactiv technology, which sounds a little mysterious but boils down to improved powertrain efficiency and reduced weight. Both the Mazda 3’s available 2.0- and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines boast the latest enhancements, including direct fuel injection with a 13.0:1 compression ratio, and the engineering team has painstakingly pared weight in just about every conceivable area—suspension, engines, and transmissions—while beefing up the car’s unitized body structure to handle more-stringent offset frontal collision requirements. Our test car—a Touring sedan with the 2.0-liter engine and six-speed automatic transmission—weighed 2915 pounds.

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