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For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Mazda 3 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Chevrolet Cruze doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.
The Mazda 3 has standard Whiplash Reducing Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Reducing Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Cruze doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Mazda 3 offers optional Rear Smart Brake Support that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Cruze doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.
The Mazda 3 offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Cruze doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
The Mazda 3 offers an optional 360-Degree Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Cruze only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.
The Mazda 3 =’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Cruze doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the Mazda 3 and the Cruze have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
The Mazda 3’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Cruze’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda third in reliability. Chevrolet is ranked 23rd.
The Mazda 3’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 33 more horsepower (186 vs. 153) and 9 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 177) than the Cruze’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.
An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Mazda 3 Premium/Hatchback/AWD’s fuel efficiency. The Cruze doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.
The Mazda 3 offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Cruze doesn’t offer a manual transmission.
For better stopping power the Mazda 3’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Cruze:
Mazda 3 AWD
For better traction, the Mazda 3 has larger standard tires than the Cruze (205/60R16 vs. 195/65R15).
The Mazda 3 Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Cruze L/LS’ standard 65 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Mazda 3 Sedan has standard 16-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Cruze L/LS.
For better maneuverability, the Mazda 3’s turning circle is 3.9 feet tighter than the Cruze’s (34.8 feet vs. 38.7 feet).
The Mazda 3 Sedan has .3 inches more front legroom, 1.4 inches more front hip room, .8 inches more front shoulder room and .3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Cruze Sedan.
The Mazda 3’s standard folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The Cruze L/LS’ standard single piece folding rear seat is not as flexible; long cargo and a passenger can’t share the rear seat.
When two different drivers share the Mazda 3 Preferred/Premium, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Cruze doesn’t offer a memory system.
The Mazda 3 Premium has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and warning light readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Cruze doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The Mazda 3’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Cruze’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its front windows open automatically.
The Mazda 3 Hatchback/Select/Preferred/Premium’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Cruze’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Mazda 3 Premium has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Cruze doesn’t offer cornering lights.
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Mazda 3 has standard extendable sun visors. The Cruze doesn’t offer extendable visors.
When the Mazda 3 Preferred/Premium is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Cruze’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The Mazda 3’s optional rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Cruze doesn’t offer the luxury of automatic dimming mirrors.
The Mazda 3 Hatchback/Select/Preferred/Premium’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Cruze doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan) has a standard Radar Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Cruze doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
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