Mazda3: Which Should You Buy, 2020 or 2021?

Most significant changes: New 2.0-liter base engine and 2.5 Turbo model with 250 horsepower

Price change: $1,000 cheaper for the base; $150 to $350 more for other models; destination charge is $25 higher at $945

On sale: Fall (2.5 Turbo is due in late fall)

Which should you buy, 2020 or 2021? 2021. On models that have higher prices, the increases are negligible, so opt for the newest model unless there is an incredibly good deal on a 2020.

The Mazda3 compact car line adds a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 155 horsepower as the base engine for 2021 and a new top-shelf 2.5 Turbo model with a 250-hp, turbocharged 2.5-liter engine.

Related: 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo’s Power Comes at an Accelerated Price

2021 Mazda3 Changes

The 2.0-liter engine appears only in the base Mazda3 sedan, a front-drive model with a standard six-speed automatic transmission. The $21,445 price with destination is $975 cheaper than 2020’s base model, which came with a non-turbo 2.5-liter engine. Though the MSRP is $1,000 less, the destination is also $25 more for 2021 at $945.

At the other end of the Mazda3 line is the new 2.5 Turbo, which comes in sedan and hatchback styling with standard all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic. Base price on the 2.5 Turbo sedan is $30,845 (all prices include destination), and the hatchback is $1,000 more.

Another change of note is that all models come with three years of Mazda Connected Services, which controls several vehicle functions through a phone app, and a six-month trial of a Wi-Fi hot spot.

2021 Mazda3 Packages and Pricing

Between the base sedan and the 2.5 Turbo are the 2.5 S models, a new designation, available in sedan and hatchback styling. The base versions of the 2.5 S come only with FWD, and the starting prices are $22,445 for the sedan and $23,445 for the hatchback.

The 2.5 S models with the Select ($1,200 extra), Preferred ($2,850) or Premium ($5,350) packages offer a choice of FWD or AWD, which adds $1,400. All come with a 185-hp, 2.5-liter engine and a six-speed automatic transmission except for the 2.5 S hatchback, which offers a six-speed manual as a no-cost option. The 2.5 S Premium Package is not available with FWD on the sedan.

The Select, Preferred and Premium packages replace individual options, so if, for example, you want a blind spot monitor and keyless entry, you have to buy a 2.5 S with the Select Package or a higher-priced model; neither feature is available on the base sedan or base 2.5 S. Ditto for a power moonroof, which comes in the Preferred Package.

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The Mazda3 is more sporting than most compact cars and offers the choices of sedan or hatchback styling and FWD or AWD. It provides decent acceleration, competent handling and a nicely furnished interior. On the downside, fuel economy and interior space are nothing to rave about, and the multimedia screen is controlled by a console-mounted controller instead of by a more convenient touch feature.

The starting price of $21,445 for a base sedan is appealing, but once you step up to a 2.5 S model with the Preferred Package, the prices are north of $25,000 and keep climbing. There’s some good stuff with the Mazda3, but other compact cars offer as much or more, often for less money.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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