2014 Mazda 3: is the front-collision mitigation worth buying the most expensive trim?


#1

I’ve been researching to buy a car this year, and I’ve whittled down my choices to either the hatchback Mazda 3 or Hyundai Elantra GT, but within the 3 I can’t decide between a moderately-priced trim and the most expensive version that has front-collision mitigation. I’ve tried looking for advice or reviews between various levels of the 3 and can’t find anything that gets to this question. I’d be particularly interested in hearing from people who have the version of the 3 with that feature (2014 3s Grand Touring), or even people who rejected it.

I’m really torn.

PROS: Front-end collision mitigation is generally recommended by experts, and preliminary research shows it does work.

I have a 300 mile/week commute on I-95 in the DC area, and hard-braking semi-regularly is just a fact of life no matter how much space you leave in front of you. So I think this feature would actually get USED.

I knew going into my research that I was 98% likely to want a Mazda 3, and my research only reinforced that.

I would also get other features that seem useful like adaptive cruise control and headlights, and regenerative braking (which redistributes to power accessories).

CONS: I’d preferred the idea of a used car for $20k or less, but was open to a new car for up to $25k. This would force me into new and is the most expensive version, coming in at over $28k in Edmunds TMV (I could afford it but geez, that’s a lot for a depreciable asset).

I’d be stuck with features I don’t want, namely navigation (don’t need it; use Waze), a sunroof (hate 'em); leather seats (not good for street parking in MD in summer), lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring (research shows these to be more distracting than helpful).

While IIHS is starting to review this feature, I have not seen any reviews there or elsewhere on Mazda’s version, specifically.

Bottom line: This would be a major, likely-useful safety feature on a car I already wanted, but I’d be spending anywhere from $3-10k more than I preferred and would be saddled with features that I don’t want.

I am really hoping to decide before I go test driving so I don’t have to test multiple trims of the same car (to avoid both the time/hassle and upselling). As I said above, I’d be particularly interested in hearing from people who own the car that has this. But I realize I might just have to suck it up and go try all the versions I’m considering…if that’s the advice I get here, I’ll live with it!


#2

When your car buying moves from fantasy internet road-testing to an actual Mazda showroom, you might be in for a surprise…The factories are starting to turn out 2015 models, and what you will find available now, especially a “3”, a very popular model, may not meet your expectations. Finding and paying for a “top of the line” model just to get a better front bumper, Hhmmmmm…You can get an idea what “crash mitigation” is REALLY worth by calling your insurance agent and asking him if they offer a discount for this feature…If not, save your money…


#3

I’m already tracking availability so that’s not a problem. And while there are reasons buying this year would be smart for me, I could wait if I couldn’t get what I really wanted, so there’s no pressure. I do plan on calling my insurance agent, so appreciate the reinforcement on that point.


#4

your question is unanswerable. mitigation from collision is always preferred over an actual collision so if you feel this is the best way to accomplish this, there really is no question or answer.

if you feel that option is …optional, then you should go cheaper and get the used GT


#5

Do you pay attention when you drive or are you always fiddling with the radio, CD, phone, nav and all the other distractions in current motoring? (no insult intended, but be honest!) If you fiddle, buy the top-level Mazda. If you actually “drive” on your way to work, I see little value. These features are useful, but as you point out, expensive. You need to make the final call based on your driving style and skills.


#6

If you tailgate, it might be worth having. I also drive in DC rush hour traffic, and I don’t think I need it. But if traffic or other things distract you, it might be worth it. Have you noticed that in the Mercedes Benz commercials touting front collision mitigation show someone driving that is distracted?


#7

I’ve had two accidents in 50 years. In both of them, front-collision mitigation would have been preventive for the guy behind that rear-ended me. I wouldn’t pay thousands for it, but just resolve to drive attentively.


#8

I dislike sunroofs too, but with being able to open it, and the front windows, in the summer time with a double tap’n’hold on my key fob, it helps let a lot of the warm air out of the car before you get to it. Even effective for the leather seats.

Car buying is ultimately a compromise. You buy a car you like and you either don’t get a color you want(used) or features you’ll never use(new and used).
You want heated seats but no sunroof, compromise and get the package deal or no package at all.
Want cruise control but not power windows? Compromise and get the cruise/power window package or go without cruise control.
Want stick shift and upgraded stereo and sunroof? Compromise and get the automatic or deal with lowest end trim model(typically lowest end trim level is only where the stick is offered).
Want blue exterior and tan interior? Compromise and deal with black interior because it’s the only interior color available with blue or buy a different color to get the tan interior.


#9

I’m actually kinda in the same boat as you, but I’d forgotten that the top level 3 offers such a feature. The Subaru Forester offers a similar option that previously was only offered on the Legacy. But the cheapest version with the system at my dealer is $27,000 after discounts with cloth seats/sunroof/nav.

My understanding of these systems (at least the subaru’s) is that the car will brake for you but it’s not meant to do all the work. This from a C&D review of the system
"Exhilarating stuff this was not—we were only traveling 19 mph—but the system worked every time. Interestingly, the car will refuse to automatically brake itself after three successive near-misses; the driver must first turn the car off and restart it in order to regain auto braking. Subaru tells us this is a sort of warning for extremely terrible drivers to shape up, and company representatives assured us that the auditory collision-warning feature remains on in such scenarios." http://blog.caranddriver.com/we-try-out-subarus-eyesight-collision-avoidance-tech/

And a review of the Mazda’s system (in the CX5) http://www.edmunds.com/mazda/cx-5/2014/long-term-road-test/2014-mazda-cx-5-smart-city-brake-support.html
It’s great technology but you do pay quite a bit for the features. You can buy a more basic but pretty well equipped Mazda3 for around $20K. Although after our experience with a rented car’s backup camera I wouldn’t buy a new car without one which forces you to at least get one with Navigation for around $23,000 (At least for the 5dr)

I also need to ask the insurance company if there are any discounts for having such a system.


#10

Our two vehicles both have sunroofs and we really enjoy them. In nice weather roof open windows down it is almost as good as a convertible. Of course if the roof is part of a package of things you do want nothing says you have to open it.


#11

If I am to buy a Mazda, I would go the other way and choose the lower trim with 3 pedals. The inability to text or hold a phone to the ear, not to mention the planning that’s involved with picking the right gear at all times, while driving one is an intrinsic collision mitigation option


#12

@kindahandy:

Rather than base your value of the various safety devices on what some unnamed “experts” determined to be “worth it” or not, (i.e. “Front-end collision mitigation is generally recommended by experts” and “blind-spot monitoring (research shows these to be more distracting than helpful)”)…test drive cars with these features, and see how you, presonally, interact with these features.

In particular, I’m wondering if the “distracting, not helpful” dig comes from testing the blind-spot monitoring amongst drivers untrained and unaccustomed to it. Owning the car with that feature for an appreciable length of time would certainly make it less distracting, as the driver becomes acclimated to its use.


#13

My vehicles all have front-collision mitigation systems which combine the windshield with the amazing sophistication of my eyes. :wink:

Don’t tailgate, and pay attention to your driving, and you won’t need to rely on your car to stop you from running into things. I certainly wouldn’t pay extra just to get this thing - - I might get it if it were in a package with a bunch of other stuff that I wanted, but it would never activate because I generally endeavor not to hit stuff all by myself. :wink:


#14

Yep, I’ve been driving cars with only human collision mitigation systems for 50 years and it has worked fine. Now if we could maybe implant deer with the mitigation systems, that would be helpful.


#15

Makes me wonder. Two weeks ago I was driving at 70 MPH on the FWY. There was a big piece of tire (gator) on the road and one of the cars ahead of me drove over it and made it land right in my lane. I didn’t have room to move and decided that will just drive over it (my life is still worth more than my car!). It broke the plastic trim around the fender (the clips), which I bought online for $10 and fixed just before typing this. But had my car had this system, would it just see the object and slam the brakes?


#16

@galant: Yes, you used your years of experience, knowledge of the object in question, and (most likely) split-second assessment of local traffic congestion conditions to decide that hitting the object produced less lousy results than evasive maneuvers would likely produce. You made a snap “Captaincy decision” as to what action to take…the correct one, IMO.

As for what a partially, or fully, automated car would do in that situation…well, that’s the $64k question, isn’t it? I’ve made my objections very well-known…this seems like just the sort of litmus test for an automated car…and a textbook example of how “driving” is more than “manipulating the controls”: there’s critical judgement calls that come up every so often!


#17

@galant At least the Eyesight system on certain Subaru’s would slow the vehicle to try to reduce the force of the impact. Mazda’s works the same. Several brands offer a similar system in Europe but not all work the same. It all has to do with how different the speeds between the vehicle and the object ahead. Mazda’s system works up to 18mph (from Mazdausa.com) Subaru’s system will brake to a stop from no more than 30mph.