With only 5.5 inches of ground clearance on every trim, you should only take a 2022
Mazda 3 Hatchback off-roading if you really hate the paint job.
Now in its fourth generation, the latest Mazda 3 seeks to woo buyers with a premium interior, sporty handling, and stylish looks. Upgrade to the turbo engine, pair it with a manual transmission, and what have you got? If you answered “an adventure vehicle,” sorry—you’re wrong.
The Mazda 3 Hatchback is not a good off-road vehicle. So before you go risking your neck (and your
car insurance), here are a few reasons to steer clear of tough terrain in your Mazda.
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2022 Mazda 3 Hatchback clearance by trim level
Low ground clearance comes standard with every Mazda 3, regardless of whether it’s a hatchback or sedan. You’ll have to customize the suspension if you want to increase the height of any of its trims.
The Mazda 3’s ground clearance by trim is as follows:
At the top of the line, you’ll find leather upholstery, heated seats, a sunroof, and front and rear parking sensors—but no added ground clearance. For that reason, we can’t recommend any of the Mazda 3’s trims for off-roading—they’d all perform terribly.
By contrast, the highest trims of a confident off-roadster like the
Toyota Tundra add increased tow capacity, heavy-duty suspension, and enhanced traction technology.
Mazda 3 Hatchback ground clearance over the years
Aside from a sudden growth spurt in the 2010s, the Mazda 3 has remained low-profile across every incarnation. Low ground clearance means a lower center of gravity, which equates to better handling—a central pillar of the model’s sporty reputation.
1st generation, BK (2004 to 2009): 4.8 to 5.7 inches
2nd generation, BL (2010 to 2013): 4.7 inches
3rd generation, BM/BN (2014 to 2018): 6.1 inches
4th generation, BP (2019 to present): 5.5 inches
Why you should care about ground clearance
High ground clearance is essential for off-roading—the space between your vehicle’s chassis and the ground determines the size of the obstacles you can overcome. Too little, and you risk scraping or damaging important parts of the undercarriage.
Seasoned adventurers recommend a ground clearance of 10.8 inches for rock crawling and between 8.8 to 9.4 inches for over-landing. At the very least, you need 6.6 to 8.7 inches to take on gravel. Pardon the pun, but when it comes to ground clearance, even a 2014 to 2018 Mazda 3 falls short.
Is the Mazda 3 Hatchback a good off-road vehicle?
No. Taking a Mazda 3 Hatchback onto gravel, sand, muddy roads, or rocky passes is a surefire way to rack up high repair bills (and potentially medical bills, too). Consider instead the
CX-5. With 7.6 inches of ground clearance, it can take on gravel with ease.
The best (and most affordable) protection for adventuring
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