2020 Hyundai Elantra Sedan vs. 2018 Mazda 3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Elantra Sedan’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 Mazda 3 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Elantra Sedan and the Mazda 3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Hyundai Elantra Sedan is safer than the Mazda 3:

Elantra Sedan

Mazda 3

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

41.4%

48%

Neck Stress

186 lbs.

213 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

182/35 lbs.

356/256 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Hyundai Elantra Sedan is safer than the Mazda 3:

Elantra Sedan

Mazda 3

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Movement

.8 inches

1.3 inches

Abdominal Force

224 G’s

276 G’s

Hip Force

454 lbs.

465 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

14 inches

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Elantra Sedan its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Mazda 3 has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

The Elantra Sedan comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The 3’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Elantra Sedan 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Mazda covers the 3. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Mazda 3 ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The Elantra Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Mazda 3’s (7 vs. 5 years).

There are over 44 percent more Hyundai dealers than there are Mazda dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Elantra Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Elantra Sedan second among compact cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Mazda 3 isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are better in initial quality than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 35 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

The Elantra Sedan Sport’s 1.6 turbo 4-cylinder produces 14 more horsepower (201 vs. 187) and 9 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 186) than the Mazda 3 Touring/Grand Touring’s optional 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Elantra Sedan Eco is faster than the Mazda 3 2.0 4-cylinder (automatics tested):

Elantra

3

Zero to 60 MPH

8 sec

8.4 sec

Quarter Mile

16.2 sec

16.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86.9 MPH

85.7 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Elantra Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the Mazda3 Sedan:

MPG

Elantra Sedan

Auto

Eco 1.4 turbo 4-cyl.

33 city/41 hwy

SE 2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

31 city/41 hwy

SEL/Value/Limited 2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

30 city/40 hwy

Mazda3 Sedan

Manual

2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

28 city/38 hwy

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

Auto

2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

28 city/38 hwy

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

27 city/36 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Elantra Sedan Eco’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission

The Hyundai Elantra Sedan comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Mazda 3.

A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is available on the Hyundai Elantra Sedan, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Mazda 3.

The Elantra Sedan has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer a CVT.

The Elantra Sedan offers an available sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Elantra Sedan Sport’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Mazda 3:

Elantra Sport

Mazda 3 2.0

Mazda 3 2.5

Front Rotors

12 inches

11.02 inches

11.61 inches

The Elantra Sedan stops much shorter than the Mazda 3:

Elantra

Mazda 3

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

182 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Elantra Sedan Limited’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Mazda 3 (225/45R17 vs. 215/45R18).

The Elantra Sedan Sport’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Mazda 3 Touring/Grand Touring’s 45 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Elantra Sedan has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Mazda 3’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Elantra Sedan Limited handles at .84 G’s, while the Mazda 3 4-Door pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Elantra Sedan a Mid-size car, while the Mazda 3 4-Door is rated a Compact.

The Elantra Sedan has 1.7 inches more front headroom and .9 inches more rear shoulder room than the Mazda 3.

Cargo Capacity

The Elantra Sedan has a much larger trunk than the Mazda 3 4-Door (14.4 vs. 12.4 cubic feet).

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Elantra Sedan Value Edition/Eco/Sport/Limited’s trunk can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The Elantra Sedan has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Mazda 3 doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the Elantra Sedan Limited, the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Elantra Sedan Limited’s optional Seat Easy Access glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Mazda 3 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Elantra Sedan’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Mazda 3’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Marginal.”

When the Elantra Sedan Limited with available tilt-down mirrors 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 Mazda 3’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the Elantra Sedan and the Mazda 3 offer available heated front seats. The Elantra Sedan Limited also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Mazda 3.

The Elantra Sedan has a 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. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Mazda 3 Touring/Grand Touring.

The Elantra Sedan Limited/Sport’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 Mazda 3’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

Economic Advantages

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Hyundai Elantra Sedan will be $272 to $495 less than for the Mazda 3.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Hyundai Elantra Sedan and the Mazda 3, based on reliability, safety and performance.

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its October 2016 issue and they ranked the Hyundai Elantra Sedan Limited higher than the Mazda 3 4-Door.

The Hyundai Elantra outsold the Mazda 3 by over three to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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