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I had the same debate. But I really, really, really wanted all wheel drive, so I went with Impreza. The great things about Mazda 3 are - super stylish and awesome content. The NAV system was primo (but placement a bit weird with a tablet-like thing that looks like it was slapped onto the dash). It also had an amazing sound system, which is very important to me since my compute every day is about an hour each way. And all the bells and whistles as far as sensors (blind spot, lane departure, etc.). However, that may also have been a con for the Mazda in my case because I'm a bit ADD and I found all that stuff going on a bit overwhelming and I feared it would distract me while driving. I also did not like the 'heads up' display that could not be disabled. Again, for the distraction it might cause. I am short and it was right in my eye line.
But it really came down to what I was most comfortable in. I am a small woman (less than 5 ft) and a car has to fit me just right. I previously had a Cruze and it just did not fit me right. I found the Mazda seats did not go up high enough for me.
The Subaru, on the other hand, fit me like a glove. I felt like it was hugging me the minute I sat in it. Admittedly, it is a bit more bare bones, but people know that about Subaru in general. The header is basically made of fuzzy textured cardboard. The electronics are not fancy, but I am new to them, so that is okay. The remote start is a bit weird, but fine. I can't live without remote start. And Subaru just came out with a package of safety features (of course for 2015, not available in 2014 when I bought mine). And the unbeatable feature . . . AWD!
Also, for me the dealership experience was much more professional at Subaru than Mazda. Mazda dealership was messy, they didn't have the full model books (just a little pamphlet on each one), just a weird vibe. At Subaru the salesman was very professional. He knew I did my research and didn't try to play the price game and the bring out the sales manager game. He went out of his way to get me the color combo I wanted - he had to bring it in from another state.
I love my Subaru and recommend it to others all the time. The safety factor is #1 to me. The only beef I have right now after owning it for 3 months. The windshield is cracked and also has another star from small pebble impact on the expressway. I have been driving the same route for many years with many other brands of vehicles and never had cracks, dings in the windshield from rocks hitting. The first time it happened I didn't even see where the rock hit and the next day had a huge crack in the windshield. The other issue I had was that my gas level indicator got stuck once. I've never had this issue with any other car, so I was sure the gas station had a problem. I had 70 miles worth of gas in my car, put $20 in and a mile down the road I noticed I had the same level of gas -- 70 miles worth. I went back to the gas station to argue that I hadn't actually gotten the gas I paid for. When I drove away, about 10 minutes later the gas gauge showed the correct level. I never had that happen before so was quite embarrassed that I had raised a stink at the gas station.
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