Mazda3 Ground Clearance: What To Know

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Red Mazda

2019 Mazda3 by Vauxford — CC BY-SA 4.0

Before we dive deep into Mazda3’s ground clearance and how it affects the vehicle, let’s define what ground clearance is.

Ground clearance, or ride height, is the shortest distance between the underbody of a vehicle and the point where the tires touch the ground.

Mazda doesn’t have a set ride height for every trim of their Mazda3 model. Instead, their sports models tend to be a bit lower to the ground, while other models tend to be a bit higher. However, the difference is almost unnoticeable, as it varies by an inch, from 5 inches to 6 inches. 

But why would that be important to you? Let’s find out!

The Importance of Ground Clearance

Ground clearance affects a vehicle in many different ways. Whether that’s performance, economy, safety, and comfort.

How Does Ground Clearance Affect Performance?

The ride height of a vehicle can either improve or decrease the car’s aerodynamic properties. The more air has to go underneath the car instead of above it, the worse aerodynamics the car will have. That’s one of the reasons why sports cars and supercars oriented towards high performance ride lower to the ground. The Mazda3, with its 5 to 6 inches, benefits from good aerodynamics, so it doesn’t lose horsepower.

You should keep performance in the back of your head, but it shouldn’t be your primary concern, as ride height doesn’t have a drastic effect on performance. What you should pay attention to is fuel economy.


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How Does Ground Clearance Affect Fuel Economy?

Ground clearance has an effect on fuel economy the same way that it has an effect on performance. Ground clearance affects the aerodynamic properties of a vehicle, and a vehicle with worse aerodynamics will have to work harder and consume more fuel in the process. The Mazda3 rides relatively low to the ground, so it benefits from improved fuel economy. 

Ground clearance’s effect on performance and fuel economy was tested by multiple car enthusiasts that decided to lift their vehicles higher off of the ground. This evidence is of course anecdotal, but many drives report noticing their fuel tanks becoming emptier quicker than before (which again, makes sense, given the vehicle’s increased air friction profile.)

However, the first thing that riders tend notice is how the comfort levels change depending on the ride height.

How Does Ground Clearance Affect Comfort?

Ride height isn’t the primary factor when it comes to comfort. The primary factor is the suspension setup. Ride height only allows you to drive around with a softer suspension, improving comfort tremendously. If you ever ran over a porthole in a low-ride-height sports car, you’d know exactly how uncomfortable it can be. The same can be said for trucks and SUVs—if you’ve ever driven one, you know how much more comfortable they usually are.

Mazda3 is “the middle of the road” vehicle regarding ride height and comfort. Depending on the trim you choose, Mazda3 offers quite a comfortable ride, but there are vehicles that are much more comfortable.


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How Does Ground Clearance Affect Safety?

There are multiple ways ground clearance impacts safety. In fact, safety might just be the most affected aspect of a vehicle by ground clearance. Here’s how:

In the comfort section, we mentioned the connection between the suspension setup and ride height. There’s only one negative of having a vehicle with high ride height, and that’s body roll. Body roll can be quite dangerous, especially on unfamiliar roads.

And naturally, the higher the vehicle rides off of the ground, the more body roll you’re going to experience. Mazda3 has 5 to 6 inches of ground clearance, so it doesn’t suffer from body roll. You can safely turn sharply without your Mazda flipping over.

A benefit that Mazda3 does not receive from its “middle of the road” ground clearance is visibility. Lifted pickup truck and SUV owners have the luxury of seeing above other vehicles on the road. This can come in handy pretty much on a daily basis, but it can also save you from getting into a road hazard, as you’ll be able to see everything happening on the road from further away. 

Lastly, high ground clearance allows you to drive over obstacles that other vehicles cannot drive over. For example, you’ll be able to drive over, and climb, a curb that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to climb. Dirt, rocks, bumps, and potholes just won’t affect a vehicle with a high ride height, while they could easily damage a lower-riding vehicle.

With the Mazda3, you won’t have to worry about damaging your vehicle’s underbody, but you won’t be able to climb curbs or off-road it either. If you’re looking for a vehicle made for off-roading, check out the Toyota 4Runner and why its ground clearance makes it such a great off-road SUV.


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Mazda3 Ground Clearance

Mazda3’s 5 or 6 inches of ground clearance (depending on the trim) make it a pretty balanced vehicle. Sports trims with 5 inches of ground clearance are a bit higher off the ground than cars dedicated to high performance, but other than that, the Mazda3 is your everyday compact car.

Just because its ground clearance doesn’t stray much from the herd, doesn’t mean that it isn’t an excellent compact car. In fact, the 2021 Mazda3 is thought to be the best compact car by many car enthusiasts, and that’s high praise considering that it’s competing with Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas.


Ground clearance shouldn’t have a huge impact on your vehicle purchasing decision, especially if you’re looking for a compact car such as the Mazda3. Still, you should know what to expect based on the 5-6 inches of ground clearance.

From the Mazda3 you can expect a very economical compact car made for pavement exclusively that offers solid performance. Of course, you can take it off-road, but don’t expect to get away without some damage. If you’re looking for a vehicle basically made for off-roading, we invite you to look at something like a Toyota 4Runner. For those looking for a great compact daily commuter with an average ground clearance and some other great comfort and performance features, the Mazda3 is one to watch.

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