Bottom line: Anyone shopping for a reliable, fuel-efficient small car has got to put the Mazda3 on his or her list. Those searching for something more “fun to drive” should take a look at the Mazdaspeed3. Spoiler alert: Driving conditions can negatively affect the fun of driving anything.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The Mazda3 S Grand Touring gets good marks in all three. I found it to be a friend in nasty traffic.

Body style/layout: The Mazda3 is a compact, front-engine and front-wheel-drive automobile available as a sedan or hatchback. It is offered in five trim levels—i SV; i Sport; i Touring; i Grand Touring; and S Grand Touring.

Engine/transmission: The 2013 Mazda3 S Grand Touring comes with a 2.5-liter, inline four-cylinder, direct-injection gasoline engine with variable valve timing (167 horsepower, 168 pound-feet of torque). A six-speed manual transmission is standard. A six-speed automatic that also can be operated manually is optional.

Capacities: Seats five people. Cargo capacity with all seats in place is 11.8 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 15.9 gallons of gasoline. Regular grade gasoline is okay.

Mileage: I barely got 24 miles per gallon in congested urban traffic. But I did get nearly 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front/solid rear); four-wheel antilock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; high-intensity discharge headlamps; front and rear head air bags.

Recommended optional safety equipment: Blind-side monitoring and lane departure warning systems.

Pricing: The base price of the 2013 Mazda3 S Grand Touring with six-speed automatic transmission is $25,150 with a dealer’s invoice price of $24,052. Price as tested is $25,945 including a factory-to-dealer transportation charge of $795. Dealer’s price as tested is $24,847.