I’m a new mom. In case you don’t know many new moms, let me tell you that new-mom status comes with a new-found obsession: safety. Prior to having a baby, I can assure you I had never been the type to actually mail in the “just-in-case” recall postcards. Now I have them in the mail as soon as the packaging is off the product. And while it’s one thing to deliberate over organic vs. standard crib mattresses, it’s a much bigger, much more stressful decision when it comes to buying a car you feel confident would protect your child in the chance of an accident.
That’s why it was so important to me to learn more about the 2017 Mazda3 – one of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick+ of the year (when equipped with Smart City Brake Support and the Adaptive Front-lighting system), while I was making my first family-car purchase. If you’re in the market for a safe, family-friendly car to drive your newborn home from the hospital in, the Mazda3 may prove to be the car for you.
Available as either a 4-door sedan or a five-door hatchback, the Mazda3 is offered with your choice four unique trim levels: Sport, Touring, Touring 2.5 and Grand Touring. In researching the Mazda3, I focused on the Sport – the base model – to get the best sense of the car without the distraction of additional luxury items. And while safety is the biggest factor I considered when looking at the Mazda3, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want some bells and whistles, too. After all, this car is going to be yours well into your child’s “Terrible Twos” – (you’ll thank yourself later if you treat yourself now), so I was happily impressed and surprised with what came standard in the Mazda3.
A non-comprehensive list of goodies loaded into the base model includes a 7-inch touchscreen display, six speaker audio system, and keyless ignition. Additionally, the Mazda3 comes with Bluetooth technology and voice control, which I consider safety features as 64% of all traffic accidents are caused by cellphone distractions. Additionally, the front seats are extremely comfortable and there is decent cargo space – 12.4 cubic feet in the sedan and 20.2 cubic feet in the hatchback when the back seats are up – 47.1 cubic feet when the seats are down. Plenty of room for diaper bags and strollers, and with MSRPs starting at $19,095 for the base-model hatchback and $17,845 for the base-model sedan, you won’t be dipping into your kid’s college fund. Additionally, you won’t be burning through cash at the pump either, as the Mazda3 has respectable (above-average for its class, actually) fuel economy at 28 mpg for city cruising and 37 mpg on the highway.
As mentioned, the 2017 Mazda3 was recently crowned one of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick+ of the year when equipped with Smart City Brake Support and the Adaptive Front-lighting system. So what exactly are Smart City Brake Support and Adaptive Front-lighting? For starters, both fall under the i-ACTIVESENSE slew of safety technology Mazda offers in many of its makes and models.
In a nutshell, Smart City Brake Support is what you need when you’re sitting in stop-and-go traffic and get too close to the car in front of you. This smart technology can detect obstacles ahead of you and automatically activate your brakes to prevent or greatly reduce the damage caused by rear-ending another car.
The Adaptive Front-lighting System works to better illuminate the road ahead of you by adjusting the headlights to your driving circumstances. Unfortunately, Smart City Brake Support and the Adaptive Front-lighting system only come standard on the Touring and Grand Touring models, so you’ll have to pay extra for the peace of mind that comes with this technology.
So what comes standard on the base model Mazda 3? Stability and traction control, a rearview camera, front and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, and a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. U.S. News & World Report gives the Mazda3 9.7 out of 10 safety score stating, “When it comes to safety, the Mazda3 passes with flying colors.” However, taking into consideration that for a few thousand dollars more, upgrading from the base model Mazda3 to the Touring not only gets you the Smart City Brake Support and the Adaptive Front-lighting System, but also adds Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, I’m convinced that for the technology component alone, the MSRP of $21,495 for the Touring is worth splurging on.
For parents, it’s important to note that the Mazda3 can fit two car seats using the Latch system, although some parents complain that the anchors can be tricky to access and the front seat passenger may lose substantial legroom when the infant seat is installed. I’d love to see Mazda integrate center Latch restraints in future models, but for now the Mazda3 covers its bases. And a little safety PSA for you: no matter the make and model of your car, always be sure to have a car seat technician inspect your car seat installation, as 3 out of 4 car seats are installed incorrectly.
Because Safety is for Everyone
You don’t have to be a parent to be concerned about automobile safety. If you’re looking for a ride that offers comfort, above-average fuel economy, is a pleasure to drive, and comes with some of the best safety features available in its class, check out any of the Mazda3 models. I’m confident that after test driving a Mazda3, you’ll feel confident that your car will protect your most precious cargo.