2013 Ford Fusion vs 2014 Mazda6

Comparing the two most stylish, efficient and fun family sedans

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2013 Ford Fusion vs 2014 Mazda6

A lot can change in eight years. Just a short time ago, 2006 to be exact, Ford still held a one-third ownership stake in Mazda. The two companies were producing vehicles based on the same platform, and it was this year that the Mazda6-based Ford Fusion came to be. But like a Hollywood marriage, we all knew it had to end and Ford told Mazda “it’s me, not you” and left the zoom-zoom company behind.

As the life-cycles of these shared platform vehicles came to an end, it was time for the two companies to develop all-new models on their own. No longer would Ford and Mazda go on like a high school project, getting equal marks for a project in which one side did all the work.

ON THEIR OWN

Fusion 2

Ford was first up with a complete reinvention of the Fusion last year while Mazda unleashed an all-new Mazda6 this year. Interestingly, despite parting ways, the core qualities and competencies that each car possesses are remarkably similar. Both are gorgeous. Both promise exceptional fuel economy. And both deliver an engaging driving experience.

Fusion vs Mazda6 4For this comparison we have gathered mid-level versions of the two vehicles outfitted with their most efficient engines and automatic transmissions. The 2014 Mazda6 is a Touring model that begins at a base price of $24,495. After items like the technology package, fog lights and destination charges are added, our vehicle comes in at an as-tested price of $27,985. The 2013 Ford Fusion is a front-drive SE model with the optional 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine and 6-speed automatic. This package has a base price of $24,625, but quickly escalates to $29,105 after options and destination charges are added.

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The all-new 2014 Mazda6 is the latest vehicle to wear the company’s new Kodo design language. Like the CX-5 released last year, the 6 looks great and rivals the Fusion for the beauty crown in the mid-size sedan segment. These two sedans definitely stand out in a crowd of overly conservative designs like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Malibu.

K.I.S.S. vs ROCKET SCIENCE

Fusion 5

Inside, however, it becomes a tail of two very different designs.  The Fusion is the technology leader offering their latest version of MyFord Touch, two customizable 4.2-inch screens beside the odometer and a large touchscreen that handles most of the infotainment duties. As cool and high-tech as the various screens are, they can’t mask the fact that the rest of Fusion’s interior is bland and uninspiring. It looks like all the money and development resources went into the fancy technology.

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The Mazda6 on the other hand may lack the large screens of the Fusion, but the rest of the interior is better designed and richly detailed. Nearly every surface of the Mazda is soft touch and those that are not feature properly used piano black trim. It not only out-classes the Fusion’s interior, but most others in the family sedan segment.

Mazda6 3Like a slap to the face of current design wisdom, Mazda has created an infotainment unit with more redundancy built-in to the controls than a CVT automatic with paddle shifters. Want to control the radio by touch screen? Go ahead. Or, how about using the buttons beside the touch screen and on the steering wheel? Those work too. Not enough? Ok, there is also the BMW iDrive-wannabe knob and button system just north of the armrest in the center console. Finally, of course for safety’s sake, most operations can be controlled though voice commands as well.

MORE MFT RANTING

Fusion 1

And then there is the Fusion sporting the iron-maiden of automotive infotainment units, MyFord Touch (MFT). Improved over past versions in terms of simplicity, it continues to be buggy, freezing on regular intervals. Add in overly sensitive HVAC buttons and we were quickly longing for the Mazda6’s anyway-you-like-it controls.

Fusion 4But it’s not a total loss inside the Fusion. Front seat comfort, feel of the actual steering wheel and audio sound are a dead wash between the two vehicles. The Fusion’s sightlines trump those of the Mazda6 and the 16.0 cu-ft trunk beats the Mazda over a cubic foot. As well, despite giving up 0.4-inches of legroom to the 6, we found the Fusion’s backseat a more comfortable place to be. That said, neither are tops in this segment and the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry are better suited to those who will regularly transport adults in the rear.

EFFICIENCY IS THE GOAL

Mazda6 2

A big marketing point for both of these vehicles is their efficiency. Mazda goes about this with a system they call SkyActiv. One aspect of SkyActiv is to reduce overall vehicle weight and this is evident in the Mazda6’s curb weight which, at 3,232 lbs. is nearly 200 lbs. lighter than the Fusion. Powering the Mazda6 is an all-new 2.5-liter four cylinder engine that produces 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque.

Ford aims at superior efficiency using their now ubiquitous family of EcoBoost engines. In a segment filled with 2.4-2.5-liter engines, Ford offers up a diminutive 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine strapped to a turbocharger. It produces 178 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Like the Mazda6, torque is sent to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Mazda6 6Power delivery is more evident and more immediate in the Fusion thanks to the turbo. But, the power band feels narrow and after the initial thrust of torque, the engine begins to run out of steam. Around the city this engine is great, but take the 1.6-liter onto a country road or freeway and the power begins to tail off rapidly.

The Mazda6 behaves in quite the opposite fashion. Initial throttle tip in is delayed, in an obviously attempt to improve fuel efficiency , but once underway, it comes alive. The engine gets more powerful as the rpms increase and really moves the 6 above 5000 rpm. The 2.5-liter though, does not become buzzy at higher rpms and remains smooth and quiet no matter how hard it is being punished. It may be due to this quieter engine, or maybe the Mazda6 has fewer sound deadening materials, but more wind and road noise make their way into the Mazda’s cabin than the Fusion.

ONE DELIVERS, ONE DOES NOT

Fusion vs Mazda6 3

So exactly how fuel efficient are they? The Mazda6 is officially rated at 26 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. This bests the Ford Fusion’s 23/36 mpg rating.

But that’s just on paper. In the real world, after a week of testing, the gap widened further. The Mazda6 returned an average of 30.4 mpg of mixed driving while the Fusion could only muster 25.0 mpg, which continues a recent trend of Ford test vehicles lately not living up to their fuel efficiency ratings.

Compare Specs

2013 Ford Fusion SE
vs
2014 Mazda6 Touring
Vehicle 2013 Ford Fusion SE Advantage 2014 Mazda6 Touring
Engine 1.6L Turbo Inline-4 - 2.5L Inline 4
Horsepower 178 hp Mazda6 184 hp
Max. Torque 184 lb-ft Mazda6 185 lb-ft
Transmission 6-Speed Automatic - 6-Speed Automatic
Fuel Economy 23 MPG city / 36 MPG hwy Mazda6 26 MPG city / 38 MPG hwy
Observed Fuel Economy 25 MPG Mazda6 30.4 MPG
Weight 3,421 lbs. Mazda6 3,232 lbs.
Front Headroom 39.2 in. Fusion 38.4 in.
Front Legroom 44.3 in. Fusion 42.2 in.
Rear Headroom 37.8 in. Fusion 37.1 in
Rear Legroom 38.3 in. Mazda6 38.7 in.
Cargo Capacity 16 cu.-ft. Fusion 14.8 cu.-ft.
Starting Price $24,625 Mazda6 $24,495
As Tested Price $29,105 Mazda6 $27,985

On the road, vehicle dynamics tip slightly in favour of the Mazda6. It feels more tossable in the corners and agility is better than average. At the same time, despite weighing less than the Fusion, the 6’s ride feels more refined. The suspension is set up with a nice balance between sport and comfort. Not only is it one of the more engaging vehicles in the segment, but it features a ride comfort on par with the likes of the Honda Accord and Volkswagen Passat. In fact, only the squishy soft-riding Malibu can beat it in this department.

Just like with the interior, the Fusion does have its own strong points when it comes to chassis dynamics. It has a more precise steering feel, better braking feel and also overall better brakes.

THE VERDICT

Fusion vs Mazda6 4

The Fusion was in tough during this comparison test. Not only is the Mazda6 cheaper to purchase, but also cheaper to fill up at the pumps. Add in a more attractive, easier to operate interior as well as a more rewarding driving experience, and the 6 is the clear winner of this comparison.

That’s no knock on the Ford either as the Mazda may just be the new benchmark for mid-size sedans. Yes, the Mazda6 is just that good.

2013 Ford FusionSE 1.6L EcoBoost

  • skf

    I am owner of a Fusion 2013 Luxury Plus with Ecoboost 2.0. All my cars were European made Fords. The last one was a Mondeo mk III, manual V6 2.5, made in England and I still have it. For me this car was the base of comparison with other Fords and makes. It is comfortable, relatively fast and low gas consumption. I don´t like automatic cars, but the Fusion is a real glove. After the Mondeo it seems to be a whale, a big comfortable, noiseless and dynamic giant. Comparing gas mileage, Fusion is better than Mondeo despite of Mondeo´s manual transmission. In the city both of them drinks almost the same. I am very satisfied with my Fusion, and never had any kind of problems with this car. My dream is a Ecoboost 2.0 Fusion but with manual gearbox. This could turn it to the best car of its category.

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