Fourth-best back-to-school car: 2013 Mazda Mazda3
$16,700 ($16,945 for a 2014)
KBB editors give a big thumbs up to both the 2013 Mazda3 and a redesigned 2014 version that's hitting
dealers' showrooms now.
"Whether you get a 2013 or a 2014, the Mazda3 is really a standout in the under-$20,000 category," Allan says. "We really like its looks -- and more importantly, it's just so much fun to drive."
The base 2013 Mazda3 hatchback comes standard with manual transmission and a 148-horsepower four-cylinder engine that team up to produce 25 mpg/city and 33 mpg/highway. (An automatic-transmission base Mazda3 gets 1 mpg worse efficiency in the city.)
If you choose a 2014, the base hatchback comes standard with manual transmission and a 155-horsepower engine that produce 29 mpg/city and 40 mpg/highway. But unlike the 2013, the base 2014's optional automatic transmission adds rather than subtracts 1 mpg to city-driving efficiency.