Spent the better part of 10 days on the road in a Mazda2 traveling from Chicago to San Diego and back again. Thought I'd share my impressions on the car.
For the tl;dr crowd:
Averaged 30.4 mpg
Typical Mazda interior
Unabridged riveting tale chap:
The Friday before last (May 4th), my buddy and I took some basic travel supplies + clothes and headed off on a roadtrip in a True Red Mazda2 Touring with ~6,200 miles on the odometer that looked like this:
Prior to the trip, I had been interested in a Mazda2 so having one for such a trip made for perfect coincidence. For those not familiar, here are the basic stats on the car:
100hp/98tq 1.5L 16V 4-cylinder
~2,350lb curb weight
0-60 in 9.2 seconds
Top speed of 109mph
The trip itinerary went like this: Chicago -> St Louis -> Oklahoma City -> Albuquerque -> San Diego -> Las Vegas -> Denver -> Chicago
First and most-noticeable was how well the car drove. It weighs as much as my '89 Integra did but feels much better planted to the road than that car ever felt. Steering response is sharp and brakes catch very quickly. Surprisingly little body roll/lean considering how cheap the car is. As far as power is concerned, the 100hp/98tq may be at least 54lb-ft short of sufficient for safe passing, but it felt like plenty in this car even with the additional ~500lbs with us in it. It didn't stand a chance in any aspect against the Z8 we ran across on Mulholland and the engine had a tough time climbing I-70 by Denver up to the ~11,600-foot elevation, but it never gave off that impression that we could have dead.
I was also quite impressed with the interior. Much like in my sister-in-law's Mazda3, the interior in this car is surprisingly cavernous and well-arranged. The dash and door cards, though, (much like they are in the Mazda3), are easy to mar/scratch. The trunk is roomy enough for two medium duffel bags and tools without a problem. There are several cup holders and change trays of various widths and depths in the center console. Map pockets in the front door cards flared in width toward the front of the car meaning you could stash items of wider width in there (such as a CD case). The rear doors, however, do not have pockets. Also, the part of the elbow rest on the front doors where you put your fingers in to pull the door closed was padded with soft material. This is great as I hate having something rattling in there as it does in most other cars. Lastly, the car does have a good seating position relative to window shape for cruising with your arm resting on the door.
Other things of note:
The Yokohama Avid S34F tires performed very well from the canyons of California to the snow/ice of Denver. Always good grip except for minor hydroplaning in New Mexico.
Very little highway noise.
There is no engine temp gauge, only one blue dummy light to let you know the engine has not warmed up to optimal temperature, and one red dummy light to let you know if the engine is too hot.
Wider-than-expected turning radius. I tried to turn around 180 degrees at a gas station around the pump island and could not do it in one smooth move.
Small 11.3 gallon gas tank made for stopping 2-3 times a day to get gas but at least it was cheap and quick to fill up.
Overall trip fuel consumption was at 30.4 mpg. Trip consisted of almost all highway driving, never more than 5-7mph over the limit.
No satellite radio. Not sure if it was just this car that didn't come with it or if the Mazda2 doesn't have it as an option at all.
No sunroof. Again, not sure if at all available from Mazda.
The cruise control would occasionally go into thermostat mode where it let the actual speed fall nearly 5mph under the set limit and then overcompensate by bringing the actual speed over the setting by 2-3mph. A few times, the cruise control would just randomly shut off or gun the engine to 5,000 rpm on level roads without much elevation change up or down.
The distance to empty display would sometimes add mileage to the range instead of subtracting as we're driving along. This might be because of the gasoline moving about in the gas tank.
The headrest makes for a vision obstruction if you look over your shoulder on the door side.
Placement of the shifter being in the dash makes it pretty easy to tap into neutral when bringing your hand up from the center console area.
The backs of the front seats do not have storage areas.
The seats were quite comfortable and did not wear us out sitting in them day after day for a week and a half. The side bolsters were quite supportive on both parts of the seat even if the did feel flimsy in hand.
The front passenger seat can slide forward of the B-pillar if you need to fit a large item into the back seat area.
It is possible to turn the trunk light on/off with a switch but the light doesn't illuminate the trunk area very well.
You do have a button to turn the DSC off, which was nice, but there is no indicator to inform you if wheel slip was detected.
Only one 12V port.
The glove box does open without crashing into your shins, which is more than I can say for most other cars I've been in.
There is no dummy pedal to rest your left foot on, but there is a flat vertical carpeted space where a dummy pedal would have gone.
All in all, I liked the car and I would consider owning one if I were in the market for a new small car. Only things I'd have to have that this car did not come with is a sunroof and manual trans.