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Mazda3 hatchback. Photo: Mazda

This week I'm driving the 2019 Mazda3 hatchback, which starts at $23,600, but with the premium all-wheel-drive package, sells for $28,900.

What's new: The hatchback's Polymetal Gray is a newly developed exterior paint option that fuses the hard appearance of metal with the glossy smoothness of plastic for a unique look.

  • Inside, the red and black interior's soft-touch materials gives this compact car a real premium feel.
  • It's available with a manual transmission, but my test vehicle had an automatic mated to the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.

Overall impressions: Like all Mazdas, it's fun to drive and high quality, but the back seat is cramped, rear visibility is limited and the infotainment system is difficult to use, with many tasks requiring at least two steps.

Advanced safety stuff: Mazda's i-ActiveSense suite of advanced safety features is standard on most versions, including a driver attention alert, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic warning.

  • Yes, but: The base Mazda3 doesn't even come with standard automatic emergency braking, which, through a voluntary industry agreement, should be standard in virtually all cars by 2022.

The bottom line: I've always been a Mazda fan, and the Mazda3 is excellent, but a handful of disappointments, like the clunky infotainment system, could cause me to choose another model.

Go deeper

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Netflix tops 200 million global subscribers

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix said that it added another 8.5 million global subscribers last quarter, bringing its total number of paid subscribers globally to more than 200 million.

The big picture: Positive fourth-quarter results show Netflix's resiliency, despite increased competition and pandemic-related production headwinds.

Janet Yellen plays down debt, tax hike concerns in confirmation hearing

Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen at an event in December. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Janet Yellen, Biden's pick to lead the Treasury Department, pushed back against two key concerns from Republican senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday: the country's debt and the incoming administration's plans to eventually raise taxes.

Driving the news: Yellen — who's expected to win confirmation — said spending big now will prevent the U.S. from having to dig out of a deeper hole later. She also said the Biden administration's priority right now is coronavirus relief, not raising taxes.