2018 Mazda6 Review: 5 Things You Should Know

The 2018 Mazda6 is a compelling choice in the family sedan segment, even among such strong players like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Hyundai Sonata

The Mazda6 just underwent a sweeping refresh that helps it stay competitive. Here are five things you should know about this stylish family sedan:

1. It Drives Really Well

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the Mazda6 drives really, really well. It might have some of the best driving dynamics in its segment, save for maybe the Honda Accord. The steering is tight and responsive with the right amount of heft. The chassis is also brilliant and helps keep the sedan confident and flat during on-ramps taken with more aggression than normal. You definitely feel some Miata influence in the Mazda6’s bones and the Mazda6 feels way more agile and engaging to drive than most family sedans. The downside of this is that it doesn’t feel as smooth and floaty over rough roads as an Accord or Camry, so a bit of harshness seeps through, though not enough to be a deal breaker.

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The 2018 Mazda6 I tested was powered by a carryover 2.5-liter engine with 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. Although this naturally aspirated engine can be a bit coarse at times, the power delivery doesn’t leave you wanting. Getting up to highway speeds, leaping from a stoplight, or passing slower cars never leaves you feeling nervous that you might not make it. New for 2018 is a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that has 250 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque — this engine gives you more grunt should you feel the need more a more spirited drive. (There’s a review of the new turbo model coming soon, so stay tuned!)

Even when the driver assistance tech is being used, the Mazad6 still drives well, never being too intrusive, jarring, or annoying for the driver. The lane keep assist is gentle enough that you don’t have to wrestle with the steering wheel and the adaptive cruise is smooth, feels natural, and is easy to set up. The only issue I found is that the blind spot monitoring is a bit too sensitive. Often times I was long past another car and ready to pass but the system still flashed and beeped even though there was more than enough room.

2. The Interior is Excellent

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A friend of mine who doesn’t care about any car unless it’s an Audi remarked that the Mazda6’s interior was very luxurious. Mazda’s upmarket aspirations are felt in the cabin where the build quality is top-notch and the materials used are a level above its segment. Real stitching, brushed aluminum trim, soft materials, switchgear that clicks satisfyingly into place; these are all things that make the Mazda6’s interior feel premium and more expensive than it actually is. Even a base model Mazda6 comes with all the nice interior stuff, which is a bonus.

It also helps matters that the layout is clean and uncluttered and is generally user-friendly, although the infotainment system is lacking and isn’t up to par in terms of being intuitive to use.

ALSO SEE: The Simple Reason Why Mazda No Longer Benchmarks BMW

3. It’s Stylish

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In a segment were automakers seem to think that having more angles makes a sedan more attractive, Mazda is sticking to making something legitimately pretty. As one of the most attractive and elegant family sedans in the segment, it will age gracefully as its beauty lies in the sophisticated lines and subtly luxurious details, not an excessively shouty “look at me” design that is compensating for a lack of character elsewhere (ahem, Toyota Camry).

4. It’s Fuel Efficient

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The carryover 2.5L naturally aspirated four-cylinder got one important update for 2018: it now comes with cylinder deactivation. The engine can shut down the two outside cylinders if a driver is traveling at a steady pace between 25 mph and 50 mph (40 to 80 km/h) to increase fuel economy. In practice, the switchover was seamless and I could never tell when the car was running on half or all cylinders or when the sleeping cylinders were brought back online.

All in, the Mazda6 with this engine is rated at 26 mpg city, 35 highway, and 29 combined (9.1 L/100 km city, 6.7 highway, 8.0 combined), which is pretty good for a family sedan.

ALSO SEE: Mazda: Emissions of Skyactiv-X Engine Comparable to an EV

5. It’s a Bargain

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In the U.S., an automatic 2018 Mazda6 starts at $23,890 (although a manual base model is still available, but not in Canada). In Canada, a base Mazda6 starts at $28,785. Base models are pretty well equipped: G-Vectoring Control, LED headlights, auto leveling headlights, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear selector, and a dual exhaust are some of the standard highlights. Top trim, fully loaded Mazda6s go for about $35,000 (about $41,000 in Canada), which is a bargain because it comes with all the tech, leather, fancy trim, and driver assistance features you could want like a head-up display, full-speed adaptive cruise control with stop and go capability, digital gauge display, 360 degree camera, ventilated front seats, and more.

The Verdict: 2018 Mazda6 Review

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The 2018 Mazda6 is an underdog in its segment, but it shouldn’t be this way. Although not as complete a package as the Honda Accord, the Mazda is much more compelling than other competitors like the Toyota Camry or Ford Fusion. The sedan’s combination of upscale styling both inside and out, almost flawless driving dynamics, and fair pricing make it one of my top picks in this segment. So much so that if you were looking for a similarly sized Lexus, Infiniti, or Acura, you should consider the more affordable Mazda6 because it gives you much of the same luxury experience for less coin and pretty much no sacrifices.

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