While compact SUVs – cute utes – are currently all the rage, the midsize sedan market is still hotly contested, and there are a lot of vehicles out there to look at. There’s the Ford Fusion, the Honda Accord, and the Toyota Camry. Then there’s others like the Chrysler 200. Finally, there’s the offering from Mazda. The Mazda6 is supposedly the “driver’s choice,” and we spend a week in one to find out.
(Full Disclosure: There might have been some begging to get a Mazda6 in for review. I’ve been wanting to drive one for awhile. Mazda said “sure,” and sent one my way with a full tank of gas.)
Technically, it’s called the Mazda Mazda6, but from this point forward I’m calling it the Mazda 6. Our review unit was a fully-loaded Grand Touring with the optional GT Technology Package. Fully-loaded doesn’t even begin to describe the features and technology that this car had. All-in, it came with a MSRP of $33,695, which included the $820 delivery charge.
For your money you get a 2.5L DOHC I4 engine making 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. This is part of Mazda’s SkyActiv system that also has Mazda’s i-ELOOP regenerative engine braking system. Power is sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. A manual transmission isn’t available on the Grand Touring trim level.
All of that technology means that the Mazda 6 is rated 28 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway, or 32 mpg combined. During our week of testing, we saw 40 mpg or greater on the highway. For a midsize sedan loaded with heavy technology, that’s impressive.
Other creature comforts include dual-zone climate control, heated seats, and Mazda’s excellent infotainment system. It supports everything you’d expect, including SiriusXM and HD Radio, but also has mobile app support and Bluetooth. Overall, the system is easy to use, and you can use either the rotary knob in the center console or the touchscreen to control the interface.
Other technology features include a heads-up display showing you speed and other information. Unlike the HUD on vehicles like the Corvette Stingray, the HUD is projected onto a piece of plastic that rises out of the dash when the ignition is turned on.
It’s functional, but it’s not as crisp or clear as the systems the put the information right on the windshield. Also, we couldn’t figure out how to turn the system off. Maybe it’s there, but I couldn’t find it in the sub-menu. However, I found the system useful enough to want to keep using it.
We also had LED exterior lighting, including headlights, side markers, and rear lights. The adaptive front lighting system causes the lights to point in the direction of the steering wheel, so you can see around corners when it’s dark. Automatic high-beam control is also part of the package.
But you really don’t buy a Mazda for the technology, even though they cram a lot of it in, you buy a Mazda for the driving experience. The Mazda 6 does not disappoint. It’s one of, if not the best midsize sedan I’ve driven in terms of handling and balance.
And balanced it is. We took it down our favorite testing road and was generally impressed with how it handled. It’s a balanced machine, and understeer didn’t seem as noticeable as on other cars. With the car set in “Sport,” the improved throttle response and faster transmission shifts felt like that’s how the car should behave all the time. It’s a car that wants to be driven.
While less than 200 horsepower doesn’t seem like a lot, it is enough for this car. Like the MX-5, Mazda doesn’t overdo it on power. Yes, on paper that means that the Mazda 6 might not look as impressive as the Honda Accord with multiple engine options, it doesn’t mean it’s not a hoot to drive.
The Parchment Leather interior is gorgeous, though being a lighter color it shows dirt easier. That’s not Mazda’s fault. It’s a beautiful color, and contrasts nicely with the plastics and soft-touch materials of the interior.
There’s plenty of room for rear seat passengers, and the truck is of good size. Since it’s not using a hybrid system or batteries to achieve it’s good fuel economy, you have space left over for stuff and things.
Like most Mazdas, the driving position is spot-on and everything is within easy reach. Remember folks, this is a driver’s car.
Complaints? I have very few. I had to turn the automatic high beam assistant off, because it seemed overly sensitive to ambient light. Also, the radar-based cruise control would lose the vehicle in front of me even on the smallest curves. But overall, none of this would prevent me from buying the car equipped exactly as this review unit was.
Overall, I can’t see why I wouldn’t buy one of these cars myself. Lots of technology, good driving characteristics, and a price that is less than the competition when similarly equipped makes this a good buy. It’s even an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ with all the technology, meaning I’d feel comfortable with my kids and family in this car.
If you’re in the market for a midsize sedan, there’s a lot of good stuff out there. But before you pull the trigger, make sure you give the Mazda 6 a test drive. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- Great driving dynamics.
- Great fuel economy.
- Loads of technology at a good price.
- Lack of a more-powerful engine option.
- I don’t own one.