Mazda 6: Sporty Family Sedan
The Car Family
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Mazda makes some of the best driving vehicles of any manufacture this side of BMW and they are well priced. The Mazda Miata is the best small sports convertible, the Mazda 3 the best compact sedan, and Mazda 5 and 7 are the best handling small minivan and crossover SUV. With all that wonderfulness the company decided to update its family sized Mazda 6 sedan. The result is a sensational looking sedan that is bigger and better in every way from the previous model. The downside is pricing that puts it squarely against established competitors from the US and Asia as well as some reported quality lapses. We found our test vehicle very tight with only a slight hesitation from the transmission when going uphill to mar a great week.
Engine wise we strongly recommend the 2.5-liter four-cylinder with its170 horsepower over the potent 3.7-liter V6 rated at 272 horsepower. The four has a five-speed automatic or six speed manual transmission while the V6 has a six-speed automatic. The four is plenty potent for most non-mountain driving and you can get an honest 23 mpg in mixed driving. The V6 is a bit gruff, but certainly offers more poke, but it is only rate at 20 mpg in similar driving situations as well as costing more to maintain.
Although the 6 now only comes as a sedan, there are a plethora of packages that can drive the price up over $10,000. The major decision to make with this Mazda is which of the seven trim levels to order plus other options from xenon headlights, to dual-zone automatic climate control and a must have blind-spot monitoring system. The satellite radio packages is terrific. During one stormy sessions we could even look at the weather radar for the area we were in as well as get weather warnings and traffic updates. If you live where inclement weather is a concern this option is worth it.
Mom’s view: Attractive, but at a price. Those in the backseat are going to complain about the sun hitting them at certain times of the day. This is one car that begs for after market window shadings. The side pockets on the door are too shallow, the cupholders aren’t snug enough, and the larger tire and rim combination can create a great deal of noise over some surfaces. The athletic ride is fun, but can be tiring on unkempt roads and I believe the sedan relies too much on its tires for its cornering meaning that it is important to test drive models with a variety of tires and rim sizes to make sure you get the right combination.
The low step in height of the Mazda makes it easy to enter, but leaving is a bit of a problem if you are wearing a skirt or aren’t as supple as you once were. The large trunk is a plus and the back seat splits and folds. Safety wise the Mazda comes with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, airbags in front and along the sides of the sedan and this helps with the excellent crash scores.
Complicated best describes the look of the interior, although the packages isn’t unattractive. The gauges have red back lighting and there is good legroom for all passengers. The interior trim is not up to my standards.
Safety wise the Mazda has a some noteworthy devises such as a stopper that keeps the brake pedal from moving rearward in case of an accident, a well isolated fuel tank, six airbags with side-curtain bags cover all the front and rear door glass and a very important rear seatbelt brace to resist cargo shifting in accidents. I have seen cars where a heavy item in the trunk came into the passenger area and caused considerable damage. Mazda’s system helps prevent such a tragedy.
Driving the Mazda constantly reminds you of it sporty intentions. Only the Nissan Altima with its sports packages can keep close, but that models does not have the attractive exterior the 6 promotes. The bottom line for me is that this model is the segment leader in looks and handling, but suffers from a pricing strategy that needs to be challenged by interested buyers. It is not as fuel friendly as the competition, but it certainly is more entertaining to drive.
Dad’s view: An interesting combination of looks and ride, the Mazda 6 clearly is hoping that performance and fun make it a sales success against the bland, and I mean bland, competition. The five-seater is comfortable to drive and ride in, but the real cachet of this model is its ability to be so many different vehicles based on the trim packages ordered. From the rather sedate acceleration of the base four cylinder engine to the rumble of the powerpacked V6 the buyer has the ability to create everything from a true sporty car to a luxury sedan to a gas sipper based on the option packages. This range also makes selecting one version over another a difficult choice and so test driving this Mazda a must. There are some concerns about Mazda’s reliability, but since that also applies to Toyota and Honda we would just make sure that the three-year or 36,000-mile limited warranty with roadside assistance is in the glove box.
Two notes worth considering with this Mazda is the absolute importance of considering the blind-spot detection option that offers both visual and audio warnings if you are turning into an occupied lane. The second option is the streaming audio. I liked the Mazda’s looks, but for a family I would go with the Mazda 5 minivan. It is really fun to drive and is easier to get in and out of, but, of course, offers none of the stunning looks of the 6.
On the road the Mazda is peppy and a bit noisy with the larger tires. The steering has a light feel with very little feel to it. Understeer is appropriate for a family sedan and the chassis is tight and responsive to sharp inputs. The brakes are acceptable, but what this Mazda stand out isn’t really the handling, but its distinctive look. You are going to feel a sense of pride every time you click the remote entry key fob knowing this beauty is yours.
Working woman’s view: The engines and transmissions are average. Nothing dramatic, nothing exceptional, and not really pushing the technology envelope, especially in terms of fuel economy. With that in mind you would think that the pricing would be a little more enticing, but it isn’t. In other words, when you shop for this Mazda bring a sharp pencil because I have noted some terrific deals. I liked the Mazda, except for the stop, start button that is a bit to trendy for me. I would strongly consider this model, but the Mazda 5 and 7 are priced in the same range and offer me the utility I need, despite not having the looks.
Young working male’s view: Sales are picking up at my open software based http://www.eracks.com and so I might eventually be able to afford something has sharp looking as this Mazda 6. The stock sound system does okay considering it only uses a handful of speakers and I couldn’t find a subwoofer. The ride was decent and the trunk absolutely a joy to use with a low liftover and lots of room. Our test version did not have the newest audio features, although there is Bluetooth available. The steering wheel is loaded with buttons and the night lighting is good, but the interior still could use some more illumination. One of the most interesting items that literally catches the eye are the blue and read backlighting for the readouts. Generally, this is a good Mazda that offers a very distinct change from the others who have dominated these segment of auto sales. If you like its handling, ride and looks this is the car for you. If fuel efficiency the latest in electronics, and don’t want to make a statement with what you drive, look elsewhere.
Family conference: The Mazda 6 is what it always have been and that is a family sports sedan that appeals to those who hear that different drummer. For a list of all vehicle websites go to For links to all major manufacturers go http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html