2019 Mazda3 AWD First Drive: First-Class Compact

Long a front-wheel-drive-only proposition, the 2019 Mazda3 sets itself apart from the compact herd with its first all-wheel-drive system. We’ve already had a go in the two-wheel-drive 3, but today’s video and feature will focus on the all-wheel-drive version and how the new drivetrain impacts the little car’s character.

To test the 3’s driving credentials, Mazda brought us to Squaw Valley, California, approximately seven miles from the pristine shores of Lake Tahoe. At 6,000 feet above sea level, the mountainous terrain provides a perfect winter playground to test the 3's new all-wheel-drive setup before we descended into Sacramento (where it was already springtime) for testing in everyday conditions.

If you’re a customer that deals with less than ideal weather, then the all-wheel-drive 3 is likely your best bet without succumbing to crossoverdom. The new drivetrain works alongside the same naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine as the standard 3, while a six-speed automatic is the only transmission available. Despite our own wishes to the contrary, Mazda is not offering an all-wheel-drive 3 with a manual gearbox (for now).

2019 Mazda3 AWD: First Drive

The carryover engine is good for 186 horsepower (139 kilowatts) and 186 pound-feet of torque (252 newton meters). Similarly, the transmission is mechanically identical to the 2018 car but includes a few software twe...