Sitting in 5th position in sales last year just a few units shy of fourth place, the Mazda3 struggle to crack the top 3 where the Hyundai Elantra sits comfortably.
Things could be different this year thanks to the brand-new 2019 Mazda3 unveiled at the last Los Angeles Auto Show. Completely redesigned, the new Mazda3 will look to steal some market share away from the 2019 Hyundai Elantra. Not wanting to make things too easy, Hyundai refreshed its compact offering this year.
We therefore get two modern compacts that come in a variety of trims, models, and versions. Given how popular the Mazda3 and Hyundai Elantra have been and are still today, both will likely end up on most buyers’ shopping list when in the market for a compact.
We’ll start by comparing both on the basis of specs and on-paper value, then later we will compare how both behave on the road. We drove the 2019 Mazda3 a few weeks ago so don’t hesitate to check out our review, and we’ll be driving it again in March. As for the 2019 Hyundai Elantra, the changes made this year are mostly cosmetic.
2019 Mazda3 vs 2019 Hyundai Elantra – Features
Let’s start with the new Mazda3’s i-ACTIV all-wheel drive system, a surprising and significant addition to this new generation. Nobody expected Mazda to add AWD to the new Mazda3, but everyone will agree it’s probably one of the best features of the redesigned model.
The 2019 Mazda3 is just one of two compact models to offer all-wheel drive, the other being the Subaru Impreza. Better yet, you can get an Mazda3 with AWD starting at $26,000 in the GS trim. In other words, you don’t have to get the top-of-the-line and most expensive trim to get all-wheel drive.
The 2019 Hyundai Elantra is front-wheel drive only. For many that’s not a problem and you can certainly get through winter just fine with FWD, but it will never compare to the feeling of stability and added safety you get in an AWD vehicle.
Both the Mazda3 and Hyundai Elantra offer a ton of safety features, but Hyundai does offer what it calls Safe Exit Alarm which warns you of an oncoming vehicle from behind when parked parallel to the street so that you don’t open the door. The Mazda3 doesn’t have this.
It does have G-Vectoring Control, a system that uses the engine’s torque to reduce vibrations and stabilize the vehicle on the highway. The system will improve comfort by reducing movements felt inside the cabin at lower speeds and the city, and you don’t have to adjust the steering wheel as much on the highway to keep the car going straight.
Both Safe Exit Alarm and G-Vectoring Control are useful. That said, we have to side with the Mazda3 and its available all-wheel drive system when it comes to choosing which model stands out in the features department.
2019 Mazda3 vs 2019 Hyundai Elantra – Engines
The Mazda3 didn’t get a huge powertrain overhaul with its latest redesign. The base models still get the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder SKYACTIV-G engines with 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. It can be paired with either a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed automatic.
The 2019 Elantra gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine standard as well with a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic as well. The only difference is that this engine makes slightly less horsepower (147 hp) and a lot less torque (132 pound-feet of torque). You do feel the difference on the road.
The 2019 Mazda3 offers a more powerful, 186-horsepower 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G that also has 186 pound-feet of torque. Here you really feel the difference.
The Elantra has an average fuel economy rating of 8.3 liters per 100 kilometers in the city and 6.4 liters per 100 kilometers on the highway with the automatic. The Mazda3 averages 8.4 l/100 km city and 6.4 l/100 km highway. No difference there. There is not a significant difference if you opt for the more powerful 2.5-liter engine in the Mazda3, but with both Mazda engines fuel consumption on paper is slightly higher.
With all-wheel drive, the 2019 Mazda3 averages 9.0 liters per 100 kilometers in the city and 7.2 liters per 100 kilometers on the highway.
Putting all of this together we come to the following conclusions:
1) The 2019 Mazda3 has more power than the Elantra
2) The 2019 Hyundai Elantra is more fuel-efficient than the Mazda3
3) i-ACTIV all-wheel drive in the 2019 Mazda3 doesn’t penalize the owner too much in the fuel economy department.
2019 Mazda3 vs 2019 Hyundai Elantra – Value
Let’s get this out of the way right now, the 2019 Hyundai Elantra is more affordable than the 2019 Mazda3. The Mazda starts at $18,000 while the Elantra is offered starting at $16,999.
The Elantra offers heated front seats and air conditioning out of the gate. If you want these features in the Mazda3, you either have to add the Convenience package for $2,300 with the manual gearbox which pushes the price up to $20,300, or add the automatic gearbox which bumps the price up to $21,600.
The Mazda3 does offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard while the Elantra only adds those features in the Preferred, Essential and Ultimate. The Elantra Ultimate is also the only model to feature adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and prevention, and forward collision assist while you’ll get all of that and more starting in the Mazda3 GS ($22,700) which includes the i-ACTIVESENSE active safety package.
The 2019 Mazda3 with i-ACTIV all-wheel drive starts at $26,000 and is only available with the more powerful 186-horsepower engine.
Overall, the Mazda3 is generally more expensive all things being equal than the Elantra.
Both the new Mazda3 and the Elantra have a lot to offer. Neither is a bad choice on paper. The Hyundai has the advantage when it comes to value, the Mazda when it comes to power, both are similar in the fuel economy department, and lastly the Mazda is the only one with all-wheel drive. Next up, we have to compare them on the road. Stay tuned.
2019 Hyundai Elantra Images Gallery
2019 Mazda3 Images Gallery