Mazda delivers unique cars in each segment of the marketplace it competes in. The small automaker doesn’t seem to mind that it’s not like the Hondas and Toyotas out there because Mazda does its own thing, and that thing is very, very good.
Engine: 2.5L four-cylinder
Power: 184 hp, 185 lb-ft
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (MPG): 27 MPG city, 35 MPG hwy. 30 MPG Combined
Can Fuel Economy (l/100kms): 9.1 city, 6.7 hwy, 8.0 combined.
US Price: $34,370 (as tested)
CAN Price: $38,790 (as tested)
Although it’s true that crossover-crazed consumers aren’t buying as many sedans as before, the body style is still a very attractive option. As bigger, taller cars can be more comfortable, spacious and versatile, sedans can be more driver-oriented, stylish and agile. The Mazda6 embodies all that’s still good in sedans.
An attractive design that hasn’t changed too much since its introduction a few years ago, the Mazda6 is loaded with style without being overdone or obnoxious. The grille and headlights flow nicely from one to the other, while the wheel wells bulge on the edges of the hood like a sports car. The rear end of the car is smooth as well, and the car has an aesthetic elegance that’s not found elsewhere in this segment. If you were to buy a sedan based on style alone, the Mazda6 would be the top choice.
Good Engine with No Other Choices
Fortunately, it’s more than just a pretty face, with decent performance to be found under the hood. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine makes 185 horsepower, which is competitive with most entry-level engines from other automakers. There’s no engine upgrade, however, so the 2.5-liter is all you get. That’s paired to a six-speed automatic, which has been a bit of a sore spot in previous iterations of this sedan. Fortunately, the years have been kind to this powertrain and Mazda has refined it convincingly. The engine doesn’t have the voice of an angel, but it’s rare to find a car in this segment with a distinct soundtrack.
The powertrain delivers either a very smooth or very sporty experience. By default, it swaps gears effortlessly and cleverly. The automatic gearbox is well tuned and reacts to the driver’s inputs well, almost precognisant in its operation. There’s also a Sport mode that makes the gear changes a bit more aggressively and holds onto gears a bit longer. Pair that to the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and things get even better. It feels custom-tailored to those who’ve had sporty, manual cars in the past and still want that driving experience. Mazda also doesn’t have to resort to using a dull CVT to eke out good fuel economy in this car either, with the vehicle averaging about 30 mpg combined.
Hot Handles for a Family Sedan
The Mazda6 also moves like few other sedans out there, at least those with under 200 hp. The electric power-assisted steering is well weighted and feels excellent for a family sedan. Adding to this sporty feel is Mazda’s new G-Vectoring Control system. Subtle and natural feeling, GVC automatically controls engine torque when the driver begins steering so that weight is shifted to the front wheels and maximizes grip upon turn-in. After the turn-in phase, the system controls the torque again to balance the weight rearward. You might not even notice it working, but the benefit is that the steering requires fewer corrections and you’ll always feel a sense of confidence behind the wheel of a Mazda6.
The sedan’s safety features and driver assistance systems will also help provide a good sense of confidence as well. Safety features like blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and automatic adaptive headlights are some of the highlights. There’s also a color head-up display with traffic sign information, which is handy, although the clear plastic screen that presents that information looks cheap. The new Toyota Camry has a more conventional setup for its HUD and it looks gorgeous. Mazda could definitely use a freshening up here.
There’s even more fancy tech inside, too. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep warning, and assistance along with Mazda’s forward collision warning and braking system were all added to our tester and worked as advertised. The system is fairly lenient and relaxed; the cruise control system reacts decently to changes in traffic conditions. It’s not super reactive, but the distance is right, so other motorists won’t cut in front of you, making the car slam on the brakes.
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These features are becoming commonplace in vehicles in this segment, but where Mazda really punches above its weight is with the interior design. Classic, upscale and attractive, the car features wonderful details like soft, chrome-finished controls, sleek stitching, and pretty two-tone Nappa leather upholstery. Passenger space in the Mazda6 is not as generous as some of its competition, and the same goes for cargo space. Clearly, if you want a car that’s oriented more for passengers than drivers, then the Mazda6 isn’t the ideal option.
The Verdict: 2017 Mazda6 Review
Our fully loaded tester rang in at $34,370 in the U.S., which includes the extra price paid for the sexy red paint finish. That price gets you a sedan that drives like no other in its class. Sporty and fun, the Mazda6 is also a seriously attractive car inside and out. It may not be the most spacious, but it certainly has its upsides.
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