2012 Mazda3

2012 Mazda3 Credit: Tribune Media Services

Q. When will the more-efficient Mazda engines be available? When will the new Mazdas with SkyActiv technology be on car lots for purchase? Is it worth the wait if you are thinking about a new car with that type of gas mileage?

A. The 2.0-liter Sky-G engine (the G stands for "gasoline") is supposed to be available in the 2012 Mazda3 sedan later in October, and it will team with either a new six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, both with Mazda's SkyActiv technology. The engine incorporates direct injection, a high compression ratio (12:1), weight savings and other engineering features that give it 155 horsepower, 148 pounds-feet of torque and higher fuel economy than current Mazda3 engines.

The Sky-G four-cylinder has EPA ratings of 28/40 mpg city/highway with the automatic and 27/39 mpg with manual. That's a significant jump over the Mazda3's current 148-hp 2.0-liter, rated at 24/33 mpg with an automatic, or the 167-hp 2.5-liter, which gets 22/29 mpg with an automatic.

What's not to like? The only hesitation we would have is that the SkyActiv engine and transmissions are new, and although they aren't revolutionary, their long-term durability is unproven. So bear in mind that early adopters are the first to discover any quality or reliability issues.

The next Mazda to get SkyActiv technology will be the Mazda CX-5, a new crossover SUV due in spring 2012 that will include weight savings and other efficiencies in its design to improve fuel economy. Mazda also plans a 2.2-liter SkyActiv diesel four-cylinder for the U.S. market in spring 2013 that the company says will have the fuel economy of a hybrid.

© 2011, Cars.com

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