Getting a practical car doesn’t have to mean sacrificing fun. Of course, your next car should be functional, safe, and a good buy, but you also want it to be fun. Fortunately, with the 2024 Mazda3 and 2024 Subaru Impreza, “fun” is most definitely on the agenda.

Let’s look at these two compact cars, which are on the more entertaining side of their segment.

2024 Mazda3

Mazda builds attractive, fuel-efficient small cars that are fun to drive, and the 2024 Mazda3 certainly continues that legacy. With Mazda, you also get to pick the package your fun comes in: sedan or hatchback.

Six trim levels are available on the 2024 Mazda3 to help you make the right choice. The entry-level Mazda3 is the 2.5 S and only available as a sedan. It’s powered by a punchy 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, putting out 191 horsepower. However, if you move up a few trim levels, an upgraded turbocharged powertrain with its available 250 hp awaits.

The Mazda3 is a car that’s comfortable, good on gas, and long on fun — like most of Mazda’s lineup. Pricing starts at $25,335, including the destination charge.

Mazda3 Highlights

Right-footed fun: The base engine in the Mazda3 is the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder developing 191 hp. It’s a good engine with impressive fuel economy, but if you’re looking for even bigger power from your small car, moving up to the turbo model nets you an impressive 250 hp when using 93-octane fuel.

Carbon Edition: The company added the Carbon Turbo trim for the 2024 model year. Carbon models boast more aggressive design with features like darkened wheels and other aesthetics, and standout interior amenities like red leather upholstery.

Safety features: For 2024, Mazda’s iActivesense bundles a suite of impressive standard safety tech including automatic emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and automatic high beams. Additional optional features include blind-spot monitoring and an adaptive front lighting system.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Mazda3 models for sale near you.

2024 Subaru Impreza

2024 Subaru Impreza RS with the ocean in the background.

The 2024 Subaru Impreza received a complete redesign, and it now only comes as a hatchback. For many, that will be just fine as they like the flexibility and accessibility that style offers.

Subaru often conjures up images of road-rally machines tearing up the countryside. The new Impreza is not designed for that; however, the base model provides a solid 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine delivering 152 hp with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Move up to the RS trim, and power comes from a 2.5-liter engine with 182 hp. Pricing starts at $24,115, including the destination charge.

Subaru Impreza Highlights

Bang for your buck: The new Impreza comes highly contented. So much so that the base model comes with only one option: 16-inch alloy wheels. Move up to the Sport and you can order an All-Weather Package (heated seats, mirrors, and wipers), plus a grouping that includes a sunroof, rear cross-traffic detection, a blind-spot monitor, and automatic emergency steering.

A safe choice: Subaru models are typically thought of as very safe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration supports the notion, giving it a 5-Star overall safety rating, just like the Mazda3. Additionally, it uses the brand’s EyeSight safety technology suite, which includes pre-collision braking and automatic emergency steering.

Plenty of fun: Subaru put some effort into making the Impreza a better vehicle, and the results are clear. Our test driver notes that while it’s not in the league of the WRX, the Impreza is a strong performer, especially when using the paddle shifters in the RS model. Additionally, the new chassis is 10% stiffer, which allowed engineers to set up a ride that is more comfortable on long trips while being more responsive on twisty roads.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Impreza models for sale near you.


These compact cars have long reputations for being simple and enjoyable fuel savers. They’re also similarly equipped with infotainment and safety tech features. They also both receive top safety scores from NHTSA and the IIHS.


There are a few differences, starting with the Mazda3, which has more tech and more power. If you’re willing to sacrifice some interior space, then perhaps the Mazda3 is the way to go. The Subaru Impreza is a strong performer with plenty of room and impressive fuel economy, and it has the advantage of standard all-wheel drive in every trim. In short, there’s no wrong answer here, just the best answer for you.

2024 Mazda3 2024 Subaru Impreza
Starting Price $25,335 $24,115
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.5-liter 4-cylinder 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower 191 hp @ 6,000 rpm 152 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 145 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic CVT automatic
Fuel Economy 27 city/37 highway/31 combined mpg 27 city/34 highway/30 combined mpg
Also Available AWD; manual transmission; turbo 4-cylinder engine 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine
Basic Warranty 3 Years/36,000 Miles 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 Year/60,000 Miles 5 Year/60,000 Miles
NHTSA Safety Rating 5 Stars 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 107.3 inches 105.1 inches
Overall Length 183.5 inches (sedan), 175.6 inches (hatchback) 176.2 inches
Width 70.7 inches 70.1 inches
Height 56.9 inches 58.3 inches
Turning Diameter 34.8 feet 34.8 feet
Headroom, Front 38 inches 39.8 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.3 inches 38 inches
Legroom, Front 42.3 inches 42.9 inches
Legroom, Rear 35.1 inches 36.5 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 55.7 inches 56.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 53.5 inches 55.3 inches
Cargo Volume 13.2 cubic feet (sedan), 20.1/47.1 cubic feet (hatchback) 20.4/56 cubic feet

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