The Mazda6 was all-new for 2009, completely redesigned and re-engineered. Its launch was lost in the recession, but it carries into 2010 as one of the most appealing midsize sedans on the market. It looks great inside and out, offers a wide range of popular features, delivers commendable fuel economy, and is very well finished. Mainly, it delivers sparkling performance and is a terrific driving experience among midsize sedans. It's also attractively priced.
The Mazda6 is roomy inside. It delivers plenty of room for four or five adults, along with a big trunk that holds as much as can be fitted under the cargo covers of some SUVs.
It is available with a choice of a four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine, each one responsive and efficient. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder has 170 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque and is EPA-rated at 21 mpg City, 30 mpg Highway with the six-speed manual transmission and 20/29 mpg with the five-speed automatic. Drivers seeking fuel efficiency over performance will find both with this four-cylinder engine. The 3.7-liter V6 makes 272 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, delivers extraordinary performance and is still EPA-rated at a commendable 17/25 mpg, City/Highway. The V6 is among the most powerful in its class and is a delight to drive. Versions with the four-cylinder engine are i models, as Mazda6 i, and those with the V6 are s models, as Mazda6 s. There are five trim levels with the four-cylinder engine, with the top two of those trim levels being also available with the V6. Prices begin at under $20,000 and can go to over $30,000 for a full loaded V6, but a very nicely equipped Mazda6 can be had for around $30,000. They are all sedans; no wagon, no two-door, and no MazdaSpeed versions are currently available.
The Mazda 6 is available with a full range of features and technology, including navigation with voice activation and all the expected sound system capabilities. But what we like most about the Mazda 6 is its driving dynamics.
The Mazda6 competes against an impressive group of midsize sedans, but we think people shopping the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, or Hyundai Sonata should have the Mazda6 on their comparison test-drive lists. Particularly, those who enjoy and appreciate a higher level of the driving experience need to consider the Mazda6, because it has a sportiness aspect not matched by the competition.
Changes for 2010 are minimal. A Touring Plus model has been added to the lineup and includes a moonroof, Bluetooth, Blind Spot Monitoring System and other features as standard equipment. The V6 versions of the Sport and Touring trim levels have been deleted. Availability of some options and features has been changed, and the Grand Touring version is now available with a comprehensive Technology Package.
The 2010 Mazda6 is half a foot longer than the previous generation, with 4.5 inches added to wheelbase and 2.3 inches to width. Despite this, it doesn't look like a big car, especially with nothing adjacent for scale. But with its flowing roofline similar to oxymoronic four-door coupes and real coupes like the Audi TT, wraparound overhangs that appear shorter than they are, and sleek lines overall, the Mazda6 comes across as a smaller, trimmer, tidier car than some of its more boxy competitors.
From dead ahead or in your mirror the diamond teardrop headlamps laid over the front corners add a hint of French to a Mazda RX-8 face, and from any other angle the floating front fenders are signature Mazda: The edgiest, most distinctive front-end in the mid-size market. An upper body crease that would normally go to the front wheel stops just shy of that floating fender, and the rear wheel arches have double creases to mirror the front.
The Mazda6 five-sided grille has a deep V-shape to it and it's all body-colored. There is no chrome beyond the logo wings, and darker colors show even fewer character lines for the most fluid appearance. Fog lights are set in horizontal openings but the lights themselves are vertically-oriented.
At the rear, taillamps wrap well around the sides, and V6-model exhausts are distinctively shaped stand-offs not actually connected to the pipes themselves. You could stretch the shape and find the RX-8's influence in numerous places on the Mazda6. This is a very distinctive-looking car and, if you like edgier style and more modern design, you will probably love the Mazda6.
The Mazda6 cabin uses contemporary materials, with metallic-finish surfaces rather than phony wood trim. The exception is the console trim that slashes across the passenger's dash which, on some models, appears a cross between silver-veined black granite and ash-black burnt wood with wide rings in it. It's a look we've not run across recently. Most finishes are appropriate although you will find hard plastic on the doors below the armrest and some console dash pieces; this parallels some cars in the class, while others like the Accord are better.
The seats are cloth on the SV, Sport, Touring, and Touring Plus, and have good support and comfort.
We found the most striking interior on a Grand Touring, with very light gray leather upholstery and door panel inserts contrasted against black carpeting, lower seat trim, console, dash, and door tops and bottoms. It's a stylish way to get the sun-belt comfort of light colored upholstery without making a mess of a white carpet every time you get in. The Grand Touring is full leather with perforated center sections.
We found the Mazda6 seats comfortable front and rear, regardless of upholstery or power assist. There is generous room inside, so even six-foot-plus bodies can sit in front and then jump in back without moving the front seat, even on cars with the moonroof. As is frequently the case with rooflines like this one, the heads of rear riders might be where the roof meets the rear window, so make sure the belts are snug if you see a big bump coming.
The rear seat does offer spacious accommodation, a center armrest (no pass-through), and a 60/40 split seatback that's easy to fold, but we did not find any AC vents or reading lights.
Outward visibility was good in all directions. The hood slopes out of sight, common in this aerodynamic era. The roof pillars are not so wide that they obstruct vision; the outside mirrors are fairly low and so is the dashboard, all adding up to a good view out. Xenon headlights are included with the Grand Touring's Technology Package, and dash and cabin lighting is more than adequate with either set of gauges.
Instruments are laid out with fuel and tachometer to the left, speed and coolant temperature to the right, with gear range (on automatics), odometers, and outside temperature indication between the two. When shifting an automatic manually the gear selected is shown in a large font above the odometers.
At top center of the dash is a deep red digital display for climate, radio and clock information, easily read by anyone in the car. Below it are center vents, the audio system or navigation if so equipped, and basic three-ring climate controls. On the sides of the dash next to the big greenhouse windows are sizable, omni-directional round vents.
All the systems are simple to use, our biggest complaint being the beep that accompanied every volume adjustment made by the steering wheel toggle but this is probably one of the 24 adjustments (along with door lock programming, turn signal click volume, and blind spot monitor on cars with it) the dealer can alter for you.
The navigation system found itself, tracked, and rerouted quickly, and it responded to the first word we tried. However, the Bose Centerpoint sound system with 10 speakers including a 9-inch subwoofer was infinitely more fun to listen to.
Most controls are on typical stalk layouts, while blind spot off, trunk release, stability control defeat and the like are to the left of the steering wheel next to a small storage tray. More storage can be found in the center console, doors, and glovebox.
Touring Plus and Grand Touring models come with a Blind Spot Monitoring System, though the Mazda6 has no significant blind spots. At speeds greater than 20 mph the system senses vehicles adjacent; it casts an orange image onto the exterior mirror if it senses your car going where another car is, and makes a noise if you signal while it senses a vehicle in the way. It worked better and caused fewer false alarms than similar systems we've tried on other brands.
Cargo space is one of the strong suits of the Mazda6, as the 16.6 cubic feet of volume covers the class and is about double what some hybrids have. One needs to lift cargo only to the top of the bumper and slide it in, the car's sweeping roofline making the vertical opening much larger than the depth aspect. There are no hinges or trunk arms within the opening nor cargo shelf impediments, and the rear seatbacks can be released from the trunk.
We noted no fit and finish issues inside or out, and found the basic structure very stiff, with no creaks or squeaks while entering steep driveways or taking angled traverses of sharp bumps.
Driving enjoyment is nothing new to Mazda and that has been successfully maintained with this refined Mazda6. Some purists might complain about the lack of availability of a manual transmission with the V6 engine, but the four-cylinder manual is still quite entertaining and it is available on the top-line Grand Touring models, so you can have your nav, heated leather seats, and a stick-shift together.
The four-cylinder engine, with 170 horsepower, gets the job done just fine, with the best coming on as the rev counter swings through the 4500-4800 rpm range and keeps pulling to near redline. It's plenty to get the Mazda6 around town or up a hill and cruises on the highway effortlessly at less than 3000 rpm, regardless of transmission.
Both automatic and manual transmissions have well-spaced gears to make the best of the four-cylinder's output, and the shift and clutch action on the six-speed showcases Mazda's sports car abilities without any sports car compromises.
The 3.7-liter V6, with 272 horsepower, has plenty of mid-range torque and delivers spirited acceleration. This engine, similar to that in the Mazda CX-9, is both larger and more powerful than those of its competitors and, although we didn't measure its performance, we suspect it might outrun the others in the class. The Mazda6 with the V6 delivers good, if not class-leading fuel economy.
Each Mazda6 model has its own calibrations for the same suspension system, and they tend to feel more buttoned down as price and engine size increase. But a lot of this can be traced to tires, and a four-cylinder car with the 17-inch wheels is arguably the most fun on a winding road because it's easily a couple of hundred pounds lighter than the V6 models. Upgrading tires later would add fun and grip.
At the top extreme, a V6 on 18-inch wheels has plenty of grip and surprisingly good sharp-impact rejection (think lane-divider dots) but it is on the firm side, not recommended for lousy infrastructure and some road noise seeps in to the cabin. At the other end of the spectrum, a manual-transmission Sport model on steel wheels doesn't offer quite the same grip, but it does give the same good steering feel and response, directional stability, and solid braking. All the models have stability control but even some ham-fisted co-drivers never invoked it, suggesting there's a lot of stability inherent in the design.
The closest competitors in the grip and ride components would be the Malibu V6 for ride, Altima V6 for fun, four-cylinder Accord for fun, and Camry for commuting comfort. The Mazda6 leans toward the fun end of the spectrum, while maintaining a good ride quality.
The 2010 Mazda6 is a terrific entrant in the midsize class, with lots of room and refinement. It is definitely in the mainstream of midsize sedans, yet Mazda has maintained the exceptional driving characteristics for which the brand is well-known, a trait that should prove popular with those who enjoy driving and don't consider a car mere transportation.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent G.R. Whale test drove the Mazda 6i and Mazda 6s models in Los Angeles.
Build and price your dream Mazda Mazda6 in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
2014 Mazda Mazda6$21,987 | 17,200 mi
2014 Mazda Mazda6$21,995 | 3,115 mi
2014 Mazda Mazda6$22,855 | 19,476 mi
2014 Mazda Mazda6$24,992 | 9,189 mi
2013 Mazda Mazda6$16,888 | no mileage
2013 Mazda Mazda6$17,987 | 45,300 mi
2012 Mazda Mazda6$14,995 | 32,279 mi
2012 Mazda Mazda6$14,997 | 36,536 mi
2012 Mazda Mazda6$15,393 | 29,155 mi
2012 Mazda Mazda6$15,993 | 32,550 mi
2012 Mazda Mazda6$15,994 | 35,004 mi
2012 Mazda Mazda6$16,393 | 29,362 mi
2012 Mazda Mazda6$16,393 | 27,338 mi
2012 Mazda Mazda6$16,477 | 30,913 mi
2012 Mazda Mazda6$17,230 | 36,026 mi
2011 Mazda Mazda6$17,862 | 32,654 mi
2009 Mazda Mazda6$18,509 | 57,342 mi
2008 Mazda Mazda6$14,455 | 111,117 mi
2007 Mazda Mazda6$11,977 | no mileage
2006 Mazda Mazda6$6,999 | 120,251 mi
2006 Mazda Mazda6$8,900 | 90,215 mi
2006 Mazda Mazda6$11,950 | 68,561 mi
2006 Mazda Mazda6$11,999 | 96,600 mi
2005 Mazda Mazda6$6,999 | 171,384 mi
2005 Mazda Mazda6$10,999 | 99,330 mi
2004 Mazda MAZDA6$6,995 | 150,815 mi
2004 Mazda Mazda6$6,999 | 123,030 mi
2004 Mazda Mazda6$9,900 | 109,371 mi