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Thread: Looking at a Mazda3 - How are they for winter?

  1. #1
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    Jun 2018
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    Looking at a Mazda3 - How are they for winter?

    Hi all. I've been looking into getting a new (or used) car (manual transmission with some cargo space, likely hatchback) to replace or supplement my nearly 20-yr old Saturn SL. I am looking hard at the Crosstrek seeking some extra ground clearance and traction in the winter. I have to regularly go up a gravel incline road that is... inconsistently plowed. The good news is that when I bought some Thule chains even my Saturn stopped giving me too many problems (as long as I was willing to get out and put them on\off and freeze abit) although it would be great to have something more capable in the real ugly stuff. I also do backpacking, occasionally some kayaking, etc. Most of my driving is on roads but sometimes dirt\gravel and the roads in NY\NJ tend to be on the rough side thanks to the winters. There is also a lot of salt used. I had occasions to deal with high water before but probably not as much now. I have some elderly family members that I drive around which means I'm a little leery of anything with such a stiff\low suspension that it would be difficult to get in and out of or feel like hell with potholes.

    So you can see why I'd be looking for something like a Subaru and I like the dimensions of the CT; but the Crosstrek's AWD and clearance is balanced out by its increased costs for gas / maintenance and an engine reputed to be pretty weak (even though it might come in handy if I want to attach a hitch for a dirt bike). I happened to see a used 2015 Mazda 3GT within an hour drive and plan on checking it and some 2018 crosstreks out this week.

    I guess I'm wondering how people's experience with them have been in less than stellar road conditions. I know there are some things that I would be losing going to the FWD (don't want to take it on a beach for example) but I'm mostly concerned about snowy conditions. I'm fine with getting a set of winter tires\wheels but how much is the clearance an issue? Do those of you who deal with snow find that you're pretty capable with a good set of tires or do you end up plowing to a stop?

    And I do sometimes have to travel for 5-8 hours at a time, how does the car feel for long trips suspension\seat wise? Unfortunately I don't have anyone around here with a 3 or Crosstrek so I can't easily borrow one to find out.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by VictorySalad; 06-11-2018 at 02:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered Member concept's Avatar

    2014 Mazda3 S GT auto, 2008 MX5 6-speed

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    San Diego
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    I think it depends upon what you prefer - excellent handling on dry roads or better traction on snow-covered roads. The 3GT with 18-inch wheels will not have a plush ride like the CT, but the 3 will be faster and (road) noisier. The best thing to do would be to drive each on as many different surfaces and road topography variations as possible. I drove many winters in Connecticut with rear wheel drive vehicles. Yes, there were steep hills that my cars could not negotiate but as long as the streets were plowed, I was always able to make my way to school and work.
    2014 3S GT, Deep Crystal Blue, Eibach Pro-Kit, Enkei PF01s, Koni Sports
    2008 MX-5 Touring (Mazdaspeed CAI, HIDs, Progress/Koni Sports/Racing Beat sways, Magnaflow)
    2002 Protege ES (Sold for $1700 with 131,000 miles)

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