By Beverly & Steve Smirnis
Most agree that the small sedan will still have a place in the near future when autonomous vehicles and ride services inevitably reign. Like most small sedan-makers, Mazda keeps its focus on value, efficiency and safety. The fully-loaded 2020 Mazda3 sedan with Premium Package AWD that we test drove for a week had an MSRP of $27,900, its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine was rated at 28 MPG and a full suite of advanced driver safety features is now standard even on the base level Mazda3. But what truly sets it apart is how the Mazda3 mimics much more expensive vehicles with outstanding design inside and out, superior fit and finish, and quiet cabin space. It’s unusually sporty and fun to drive compared to competitors at its price point, illustrating that Mazda truly lives up to its tagline, “Driving Matters.” Predictive i-ACTIV AWD® further underscores Mazda’s engineering and advanced technologies. Mazda3 continues to receive accolades from auto journalists due to its good looks and spirited driving plus value, efficiency and safety for under $30K, (even including adaptive headlights, a sunroof, a head-up display, leather upholstery and paddle shifters via the Premium package).
Toyota illustrates that it intends to sell sedans now and in the future with the introduction of the all-new Camry and Corolla models for 2020. Sister brand Lexus redesigned its seventh-generation ES series last year, after nearly 30 years of success as a staple of the Lexus line-up. The 2020 Lexus ES starts at $39,900 and with the ES300h starting at less than $2,000 more, and rated at 44 MPG combined, it’s easy to understand why both Lexus and Toyota continue to report significant increases in hybrid sales. The ES300h will achieve Lexus’ stated intention to engage a broader range of customers with ES models, attaining the goal for many other reasons beyond the fact that as a midsize hybrid sedan, it enjoys supreme reign in a segment with little challenge. Admittedly, our Ultra Lux had a price tag in the mid-$50K range; ah, but Lexus has always been a master at selling premium upgrades and advanced technology and proving their worth.
Beverly & Steve Smirnis are members of the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Texas Motor Press Association, reviewing vehicles and casting their votes at driving events where the Truck of Texas, Car of Texas, and Off-Road Truck of Texas are some of the titles awarded. Follow their automotive blog on TheSavvyList.com/The-Savvy-Driver.