Why is Mazda Not Popular?

Anyone familiar with Mazda as a company can tell you that they’re pretty different from other comparable car companies. Their ads and marketing have very different energy than ads from companies like Toyota and Honda, and many experts have said that Mazda vehicles often don’t sell very well. Mazda makes a variety of vehicles that are fast and fun to drive, so it’s a bit baffling to most consumers as to why Mazda isn’t a more popular brand. If you’ve been looking at Mazda vehicles and wondering why the brand is not popular, stay tuned! In this article, we’ll be going over all the reasons Mazda is not popular, including scandals, marketing, reliability, and more.

Mazda Brand History and Overview

Before we get into all the reasons Mazda is not popular today, let’s take a look at the brand’s history. Mazda Motor Corporation is based in Fuchu, Hiroshima, Japan and has been around for more than 100 years, as it was established in January of 1920. Over the years, Mazda has made a wide variety of vehicles, ranging from three-wheeled trucks all the way to the new enhanced 2022 Mazda CX-5

Mazda began formal operations in the United States in 1970 and has been a well-known automaker ever since. From 1974 to 2015, Mazda was in partnership with the Ford Motor company, and many people don’t know that Mazda played a large part in the development of well-known Ford vehicles. Mazda helped Ford develop the Explorer in the 90’s, and both companies sold the car, with Ford taking the ‘Explorer’ name and Mazda marketing the vehicle as the ‘Mazda Navajo.’ While both were essentially the same vehicle, Mazda’s version flopped while the Ford Explorer became the best-selling sport utility vehicle in the U.S.

Today, Mazda is no longer partnered with Ford and while it is a well-known brand, many think it is dropping in popularity. This is due to a variety of reasons, from marketing to scandals to reliability of vehicles. The brand had a boost in popularity during the pandemic, but there are still many factors that have contributed to the public’s lower regard of Mazda compared to other brands.

Why is Mazda Not Popular

Mazda Scandals and Recalls

One of the biggest reasons Mazda is not popular or has suffered lapses in reputation is due to scandals and recalls. Recalls are a necessary part of auto manufacturing and happen on a routine basis, but particularly dangerous recalls can be bad for the optics of a company. Additionally, if recalls are widespread, even if they aren’t very serious, they can create a hassle for owners and deter people from wanting to buy cars from that company.

In 2016, Mazda had to recall 2.2 million cars worldwide over a tailgate issue. The recall impacted six different Mazda models, 400,000 vehicles in Japan and 1.8 million vehicles sold on the international market. Thankfully the issue wasn’t a dangerous one: the paint had simply been applied to the tailgate incorrectly, which could lead to corrosion if left unchecked. While Mazda did the right thing by repairing these vehicles free-of-charge, it still created a huge hassle for millions of car owners worldwide.

In 2019, Mazda had a much more serious recall of 3,323 Mazda 3s in Australia over fear that the wheels could fall off, due to a rattling noise that happens before wheel detachment. The cars in question were sold between April and June of 2019, and this recall understandably caused a lot of panic. 

The idea of your car’s wheels falling off while driving is terrifying for most people, as it has the potential to seriously damage your car and cause a life-threatening accident. While repairs again came at no extra cost to the owners, it’s understandable that many thought twice about purchasing a Mazda after hearing about this recall.


Aside from scandals and recalls, another reason that Mazda does not seem as popular compared to other brands is due to marketing. As we mentioned earlier, Mazda’s advertisements and marketing materials are noticeably different in tone from other brands like Toyota or Honda. This might be a bit surprising, but one of the reasons Mazda has less popularity could be because they have a narrower target market than most automakers.

But Mazda is not the only company that neglects marketing—

  1. Kia, with the Kia Stingers
  2. Audi, with poor marketing direction for Audi TT

When looking at Mazda’s ads, they emphasize the sportiness of the vehicles as well as the enjoyment of driving, something that many car consumers don’t have in the forefront of their minds when looking to purchase. When Mazda’s VP of Marketing for North American operations Russell Wager was asked about this, he confirmed that the narrow target market theory was true. “You know what? Mazda’s not for everybody,” Wager said. “Our target is not all 17 million new-car buyers that bought last year. That’s not our target. Our target’s about 15 percent of them. And our target cares about design, our target cares about how their vehicle drives, our target loves a vehicle that is fun to drive.” 

Quality, Safety, and Reliability

Another reason Mazda is not as popular as other brands could be due to quality, safety, and reliability. This category is interesting, as the actual safety and reliability scores of a vehicle don’t seem to impact its popularity as much as its perceived safety and reliability do. Regardless of Mazda’s actual scores, many people have a negative opinion of Mazda due to the previously mentioned recalls and scandals.

In reality, Mazda is fairly reliable as far as auto brands go, but not top of their class. A 2019 MotorEasy dependability rating placed Mazda as 19th on the list, judging by a variety of factors including number of repairs and reported issues. 

It will cost you nearly $8000 for maintenance and repair costs during your first 10 years of service, exceeding the industry average by ~$1200. Additionally, CarEdge reports that there is an 18.43% chance that the Mazda will require a major repair during that time. 

Wrapping it Up

Overall, there are many contributing factors as to why Mazda is not as popular as comparable automotive brands. Of course, one of the major reasons is due to its scandals and recalls, which placed doubt on the safety and reliability of an already middle-of-the-road brand. 

In addition to that, Mazda also markets very differently than brands like Toyota and Honda, meaning that their target market is much smaller than that of the average American car brand. Mazda vehicles are no slouch by any means—they make some beautiful, high-performing sporty cars—but they also don’t appeal as much to the average American car consumer since they don’t prioritize safety and practicality. 

Be sure to stay updated on the latest car trends as well—

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