Best location to stay in Mallorca to explore the island? Staying 3 nights with a car. Would like to see as much of the island as possible.
Everywhere in Mallorca can be reached by car within a mximum of 1.5 hours so location isn't really that important in terms of maximising your time there. One could argue that the best location would be within the centre of the island but that's not the most attractive or interesting part.
What are your interests? We always stay in the Southwest of the island because we have a couple of timeshare weeks at the Marriott resort there however we've explored all over the island in day trips from there. Personally I love the Tramantura mountains and the villages within and I also regard Palma as my favourite Spanish city however the beaches in the south are amongst the best and the old towns such as Santanyi and Campos are great places to experience authentic and traditional Mallorcan life, particularly on the days when the excellent markets are held, the Saturday morning market at Campos is a foodie heaven. Soller, Valdemossa and Deia are unmissable and there is a wealth of less popular but no less interesting towns and villages to see however with 3 nights you are sadly restricted to what you can see. We visit several times a year and still haven't seen everything the island has to offer, it's a fantastic place and one I'll never tire of.
Second Deia, Valldemossa, and Soler as can't miss. Palma is the largest city, most touristy, and crowded, especially in the summer.
Not my taste, but has the most lodging to offer.