Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A red 2018 Mazda3 is shown leaving a used Mazda dealership.

4 Used Mazdas to Fit Your Active Lifestyle

You’re ready to shop for a used car, and you’ve decided that Mazda is your brand, but you’re still unsure about which model you’re most interested in. Before you find a used Mazda dealership in your neighborhood, you’ll want to get an idea of what models have features that might suit your everyday needs, as well as your aspirations to pursue your ideal lifestyle. The traveling habits and general needs of a family with two kids participating in athletics, for example, may differ greatly from an independent traveler. To provide you with a solid starting point on your car-buying journey, here’s a Mazda option for four different modern drivers:

#1 – Mazda3: For the Professional Commuter

If you commute to and from work every day, you’ll want to be sure you’re choosing a car that will get you there feeling calm enough to take on the workday in the morning and relaxed enough to focus on your personal life when you return home. The interior of the Mazda3 is intentionally designed for optimal sound reduction and acoustic quality, creating a barrier from the chaos of the traffic outside, making it a good option for commuters. With a two-wall floor system incorporating the floor mats and body floor, road noise is significantly reduced, and the layout of the internal cabin carefully considers the science of audio acoustics in its design to minimize undesirable sounds from the outside. Mazda engineers have referred to the cabin as “the ultimate private space.”

The SkyActive-Vehicle Architecture at the core of Mazda engineering is a direct manifestation of the company’s philosophy of “Jinba-Ittai,” or “oneness of horse and rider.” It applies an extensive study of human anatomy and physiology to the goal of creating harmony between every component of the car and the natural patterns of human movement. The company’s engineers use an extreme level of scientifically-informed detail down to the seating design of the Mazda3, pinpointing specific target areas of support in the back and headrests ideal to the structure of the human body and its operation of a vehicle, making this car a prime choice for commuter comfort.

Starting with 2018 models, Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support comes standard in the Mazda3, along with Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. Smart City Brake Support is specially designed to assist with city driving, helping to avoid frontal collisions while you’re driving slowly in congested, stop-and-go traffic. Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring warns you of objects in your blind spot while alerting you to other vehicles quickly approaching the car’s blind spot as well. Rear Cross-Traffic Alert does the same for cars approaching you from the side, visually and audibly warning you.

Beneficial features of recent used models include a rear-view camera, helpful for backing out of tight parking spaces after a hard day of work, as well as available upgrades, like a rear window defogger that comes with a timer. Heated power-controlled side mirrors have integrated turn signals for extra ease in navigating through commuter traffic. If you travel for professional purposes, note that the Mazda3 is available in a 4-door sedan or a 5-door hatchback, so you have the option of extra space for road-tripping.

A red 2021 Mazda CX-5 is shown from a rear angle driving on a highway.

#2 – Mazda CX-5: For Families and Teens

Arguably its most attractive feature for transporting your loved ones, the CX-5’s safe design has racked up accolades from the most respectable organizations that monitor and advise on safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has designated the CX-5 as a Top Safety Pick+ every year since the 2014 model due to impressive ratings in Crash Worthiness and Front Crash Prevention. Furthermore, Kelly Blue Book recently named the 2016 and 2018 CX-5 among “The Best Used Cars for Teens,” making it a top choice for parents concerned with keeping their newly licensed teen safe on the road, and also for families hoping to secure a safe, reliable vehicle for under $20,000.

Made standard in most Mazdas after 2018, including the CX-5, the brand’s comprehensive i-Activsense safety suite uses cameras and millimeter-wave radars to assess environmental factors, like road obstructions and potential hazards that may pose a risk of a collision. The system includes an available adaptive front lighting setup that pivots your headlights as you turn corners, as well as the traditional auto on and off high beams. Mazda Radar Cruise Control uses millimeter-wave radar to process the speed of the car ahead in order to maintain a safe driving distance from their bumper, while a Rear Vehicle Monitoring System uses a rear bumper-mounted radar to detect cars approaching from the side or behind, sounding an alarm to alert the driver to danger.

#3 – Mazda CX-9: For the Adventurer

The reason the CX-9 stands out to active people is its versatile ability to accommodate exterior accessories that facilitate adventure and exploration. For kayakers, the Thule Glide and Set Kayak Carrier and the Thule Hull-a-Port Pro are available to safely transport you and your boat to the launch. With the tow package, models of the CX-9 from 2016 onward have a 3,500 lb towing capacity, enough to tow small boats, small travel trailers, and popup campers. Even surfers have a stake in the Mazda CX-9’s plethora of accessories for outdoor enthusiasts, with the option of the Thule Board Shuttle, which holds up to two boards, short or long, securely attached to your roof.

If you’re more of a land creature, there are several options for storing and transporting your bicycles, depending on your needs. If you want to go traditional, you could opt for an available Thule Upright Bike Carrier, which holds one bike per carrier but requires the use of a roof rack or crossbars. To free up roof space, Mazda offers three different Thule Vertex Bike Hitch Carriers that manage to securely fit up to four bikes on the vehicle’s rear while still maintaining access to the cargo hatch, simplifying your travel and reminding you that the trails are waiting.

A red 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata is shown from a high angle parked on concrete.

#4 – MX-5 Miata: For Day-Tripping Couples and Solo Travelers

Are you a frequent daytripper who prefers a more swanky-feeling type of vehicle with a 360-degree view? The MX-5 Miata’s sleek, attractive design is always sure to turn heads and facilitate conversation with new acquaintances as you travel. With the launch of the 2016 model, the company’s engineers were determined to make the latest generation of the Miata lighter and smaller, with a more efficient design that truly embodies Mazda’s “Jinba-Ittai” philosophy but with a modern spin. With a convertible top for prime sightseeing quality for your day trips and a smooth, zippy quality that was meticulously developed in the Mazda labs, the Miata is a top pick for people who want to feel “VIP” without breaking the bank.

Another fun perk of the Miata is its sound quality. The fascinating thing about Mazda engineering is the attention to detail paid to solving problems that may be hard to pinpoint but create a huge impact on the driver, such as acoustic enjoyment. Of course, this may seem impossible in a convertible, but Mazda and Bose used their partnership to pursue a solution, producing an EQ Equalizing system to automatically adjust the setting when the top is lowered and UltraNearfield speakers embedded directly into the headrests of the seats. These speakers use TrueSpace signal processing to give occupants a clear surround-sound experience, even when the top is down. Supporting this entire system is Bose’s AudioPilot noise compensation technology, which monitors the vehicle’s interior environment, adjusting the audio playback according to changes happening within the cabin in real-time, making it possible to simply enjoy your ride without having to fiddle around with your music settings.