Used Car Reviews

Used Vehicle Review: Mazda2, 2011-2014

Vehicle Type

Compact Car


Mazda added the new 2 to their model range in Canada for model year 2011, and an all-new version of the subcompact is launching soon—meaning the inaugural generation of the little Mazda has moved fully into used-car territory.

A sporty grille, wide-set stance and sweeping character lines dial up the 2’s on-road presence, while numerous touches like fog lamps, a hatch-spoiler and alloy wheels add sophistication. Top-line features include high-tech rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic headlights, a chrome tailpipe accent and side-sill extensions – all of which added appeal for shoppers after affordable access to high-end feature content. USB audio connectivity is standard, making it easy to access tunes stored on virtually any device.

Every 2 shipped with dual front and front-side airbags, dual side curtain airbags, a brake override system, and three-point safety belts at every seat. Add in a flexible cargo hold with split folding seats and available roof-mounted cargo carrying solutions, and the 2 should prove a flexible little five-door that’s ready for any trip or activity thrown its way.

Shoppers may want to include the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris in their cross-shopping activities. Note that the Mazda2 has earned at least one major award for resale values – so it’ll likely command a premium in the used market over some competitive models.


All models shipped with a 1.5L, 100 hp four-cylinder engine, driving the front wheels via a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

The entry GX model grade included 15-inch wheels, power mirrors, locks and windows, tilt steering, an MP3 compatible stereo system with auxiliary and USB inputs and folding rear seats – mounting to a solid foundation for convenience, entertainment and comfort.

A Convenience Package model adds air conditioning, heated mirrors, a stereo speaker upgrade, cruise control, remote keyless entry, a trip computer and more. The GS trim grade adds alloy wheels, a roof spoiler, chrome exhaust tip, fog lamps, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, as well as automatic lights and wipers.

What Owners Like

Owners report satisfaction with overall value, styling, and fuel economy first and foremost. The Mazda2 also features a steering and handling setup that’s nicely honed for driving enthusiasts, as well as a sporty and fun-to-shift five-speed stick, according to many owners. Here’s a fun-to-drive little car with effort put into reflexes and agility. Flexible cargo space helps round out the package.

What Owners Dislike

Typical complaints include useless and awkwardly-placed cupholders, the lack of abundant at-hand on-board storage, and the wish for about 20 or 30 more horsepower.

Here are some owner reviews.

The Test Drive

Here’s a discussion online where some owners contemplate whether or not the Mazda2 might be the perfect, reliable minimalist car. In this thread, numerous owners chime in about how they haven’t had a lick of trouble with their 2, perhaps because of the long-lived and proven engine, simple feature content, and solid build quality. Durable components are also noted. 

Many owners also note that the 2 is very easy to work on for do-it-yourself types – with components that are simple to access and plenty of room under the hood.

Still, test-drivers are advised to be on the lookout for a radio head-unit that cuts out in cold weather, and should listen for a clicking or popping sound at startup, when the steering wheel is first turned. This sound is accepted as normal as the steering system first builds pressure in its lines, though anything more than a small, brief noise will require investigation.

Here’s another discussion about brake rotors that might be prone to warping, though this issue is typically dependent on locale and driving habits. Warped brake rotors need replacement or repair, and are evidenced by a pulsating sensation through the pedal, originating in the front of the vehicle, during light to moderate braking.

Squeaking or creaking noises over bumps from the rear suspension, especially in cold weather, could be the result of rubber bushings or isolators that need to be serviced or lubricated. Mazda launched a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) number 0200214 to address this issue. If the Mazda2 you’re test-driving exhibits any unwanted suspension noise, ask a dealer to check the car out against that TSB.

Other advised checks are fairly minor. Test-drivers are advised to look for the presence of water or condensation in the headlamps, which can cause issues and damage. A check of the tailgate latch and strut assembly should also be made, confirming proper operation. Finally, check that both front wheel-well liners and mud-flaps (if equipped) are secure and present, as some owners have reported issues with fasteners breaking off with the weight of built-up snow and ice.

Other standard checks apply: confirm that all fluids are fresh and filled to spec, check tires for signs of uneven or excessive wear which could indicate an alignment issue, and have a mechanic fully inspect the brakes and suspension for signs of wear.

The Verdict

Issues related to the Mazda2 seem minor and infrequent – with most being easy to identify and resolve. Add in the easy do-it-yourself repair factor, flexible cabin and fun to drive attributes, and this one appears a fantastic bet on a thrifty, no-nonsense and entertaining little car.

A list of recalls.

Crash Test Scores

IIHS Scores