The 2017 Mazda3 Grand Touring is a lot of car for a competitive price.The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi has much to offer, but it’s the fuel savings that make this plug-in hybrid a winner.

Sedans provide genuine ride control and notable fuel economy

With a multitude of new features and improvements, the 2017 Mazda3 4-Door Grand Touring (the top of three models) was not only a fun sedan to drive, it had a classy interior and handled well with its retuned suspension.

New on the Mazda3 compact are front and rear fascias, electronic parking brake, an updated and functional dashboard design, countered seats, a new steering wheel (our tester had an optional heated wheel), improved SKYACTIV Technology, and G-Vectoring Control for improved handling, among other features.

Powered by a SKYACTIV 2.5-L DOHC four-cylinder engine that creates 184 HP (other models have 2.0-L engines), it was paired to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift and Sport Mode. The combo allowed for plentiful acceleration and provided overall fuel economy of 30 MPG (27/city and 36/highway).

Likeable features on the Mazda3 are abundant, but highlights include a one-touch moonroof, rain-sensing wipers (always helpful in bad weather), heated side mirrors, LED fog lamps, excellent rear-view camera, Hill Launch Assist, and the always pleasant nine-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system.

Mazda3 has a four-wheel independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars. Ride and handling are enhanced with the Dynamic Stability Control and traction control systems that we put to the test during snowy road conditions. Combined with Mazda’s electronic power steering and 18-inch tires, we found the 3 to handle with ease during all driving conditions.

The interior of the Mazda 3 Grand Touring is comfortable and well-designed for the driver. From the leather-trimmed heated sport seats to the dual-zone climate control system, comfort seemed paramount in its design. A seven-inch full-color touch screen was easy to use and the Mazda Connect Infotainment System provided a multifunction Commander control, Infotainment system voice command, Pandora and Stitcher radio integration, plus complete connectivity to other systems.

Safety is not overlooked on the Mazda3 and includes advanced airbags (plus side-impact bags) to blind spot monitoring.

Our tested Grand Touring model had a base price of $24,195. With three option packages that included such features as LED headlamps, lane departure warning system, Lane Keep Assist, the Mazda navigation system, Mazda radar cruise control, and more, our final tag was $27,095. In our estimation, it’s a very competitive price for an award-winning sedan.


It’s all about the fuel economy on the Fusion Energi

There is much to like on the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium we recently tested, but the cost of operation is the highlight of this plug-in hybrid sedan. While on all-electric there is limited range, the combination of using electricity and gasoline has a rating of 97 MPGe (we hit just under that over a weeklong test) and 42 MPG overall on gasoline only (we posted 41.7 MPG). Overall range is 610 miles.

Power on the FWD Energi Titanium model comes from a 2.0-L iVCT Atkinson-cycle I-4 engine mated to an electric motor with a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery and an eCVT automatic transmission. It produces 141 HP at 6,000 RPM and 129 lb.ft. of torque at 4,000 RPM. It was moderately reactive, and we did not necessarily feel underpowered in any driving condition, though it does take some time to adjust to how the Energi accelerates. It’s not a racer.

In addition to the fuel economy, we did like the Energi’s LED lighting (head, tail, and fog lamps), 10-way power driver’s sport seats with leather surfaces, dual-zone climate control, heated outside mirrors (which we utilized several times to remove ice), marvelous 12-speaker Sony audio system, remote start, Hill Start Assist, and Active Noise Control (our tester was extremely quiet), among many likes.

Our one and only dislike was the very small trunk space (8.2 cubic feet) that does not allow for much cargo hauling.

The Energi has an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and gets a 5-Star government rating.

Handling on the Fusion Energi was pleasant with its electric power-assisted steering. The front suspension is a short-arm design with a stabilizer bar and independent MacPherson struts, while the rear is a multi-link with twin-tube gas-pressurized shocks. Combined with the AdvanceTrac with Electronic Stability Control, the overall suspension and handling systems worked well for us in some very icy and snowy road conditions.

Our tested Fusion Energi Titanium was $34,120. With five options, including the Burgundy Velvet metallic tinted exterior clearcoat, Enhanced Active Park Assist, a voice-activated navigation system with touch screen, Lane Keeping System and cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control with a stop/start feature, the final price was $38,815. There was a $2,000 Fusion Energi Discount that dropped the price by that amount.

The Energi is comfortable, has a cool rear decklid spoiler, is loaded with standard features, and is well designed.


Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.