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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 Sonic doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan) has standard Smart City Brake Support, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Sonic offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.
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 Sonic 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 Sonic 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 Sonic 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.
To help make backing safer, the Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan)’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Sonic doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.
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 Sonic doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the Mazda 3 and the Sonic 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, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.
The Mazda 3’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Sonic’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).
To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Mazda 3 has a standard 130-amp alternator. The Sonic’s 100-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.
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 48 more horsepower (186 vs. 138) and 38 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 148) than the Sonic’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 Sonic doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.
The Mazda 3 FWD’s standard fuel tank has a gallon more fuel capacity than the Sonic (13.2 vs. 12.2 gallons).
The Mazda 3 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Sonic.
For better stopping power the Mazda 3’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Sonic:
Mazda 3 AWD
The Mazda 3 has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Sonic. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.
For better traction, the Mazda 3 has larger standard tires than the Sonic (205/60R16 vs. 195/65R15). The Mazda 3’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sonic (215/45R18 vs. 205/55R16).
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 Sonic LS/LT’s standard 65 series tires. The Mazda 3’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Sonic’s optional 50 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 Sonic LS/LT. The Mazda 3’s optional 18-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels optional on the Sonic.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Mazda 3’s wheelbase is 7.9 inches longer than on the Sonic (107.3 inches vs. 99.4 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Mazda 3 is 2.3 inches wider in the front and 2.8 inches wider in the rear than on the Sonic.
For excellent aerodynamics, the Mazda 3 has standard flush composite headlights. The Sonic has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.
The Mazda 3 Sedan has 2.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Sonic Sedan (92.8 vs. 90.3).
The Mazda 3 Sedan has .5 inches more front legroom, 3.2 inches more front hip room, 2.3 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear legroom and .5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Sonic Sedan.
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 Sonic 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 Sonic doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The Mazda 3’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. Power windows are only available on the Sonic LT/Premier.
The Mazda 3’s front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Sonic LT/Premier’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.
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 Sonic’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Mazda 3 (except Base Sedan) detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Sonic doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
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 Sonic 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 Sonic 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 Sonic’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 Sonic doesn’t offer the luxury of automatic dimming mirrors.
The Mazda 3 Hatchback/Select/Preferred/Premium has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Sonic doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.
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 Sonic doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.
The Mazda 3 Hatchback/Select/Preferred/Premium’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Sonic doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.
For greater rear passenger comfort, the Mazda 3 has standard rear heat vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The Sonic doesn’t offer rear vents.
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 Sonic doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
The Mazda 3’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Sonic’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.
The Mazda 3 outsold the Chevrolet Sonic by over three to one during 2018.
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