The Mazda 6 is more than an ordinary mid-size family sedan. Its chiseled body and beautiful cabin could easily be confused with those of much pricier cars. Likewise, its fantastic chassis delivers a driving experience that is normally reserved for expensive sports sedans. Collectively, these traits create an extraordinary blend of upscale ambience and unsurpassed dynamics that is surprisingly affordable. Instead of offering individual options, Mazda requires buyers to look to higher trim levels in order to get the features they want. The Mazda 6 won’t win many objective comparisons with its competitors; after all, it’s not the quickest, thriftiest, or tech-savviest. But this marvelous sedan transcends the numbers and targets the senses better than its “mainstream mid-size family car” classification suggests.
What’s New for 2018?
For the third time in five model years, the Mazda 6 receives a makeover for 2018. Its most obvious updates include subtly evolved exterior styling, a refreshed interior, and an additional engine option. The 6’s new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder slots above the standard naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four, which adopts cylinder deactivation and adds slightly more horsepower and torque. While these changes are significant, Mazda took things a step further by retuning the chassis and drastically reducing interior noise levels. The lineup also welcomes a new Grand Touring Reserve trim and a top-of-the-line Signature model. The latter has rich leather, real wood trim, and a long list of desirable standard features.
- Sport: $22,845
- Touring: $26,595
- Grand Touring: $30,095
- Grand Touring Reserve: $32,595
- M Signature: $35,645
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
There are two responsive 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines—one is turbocharged—and either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The newly added turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four develops 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Unfortunately, the turbo model isn’t offered with the six-speed manual. That’s now reserved solely for the base, non-turbo Sport model. The standard naturally aspirated four-cylinder now features cylinder deactivation along with an additional 3 horsepower and 1 pound-feet of torque as compared with last year’s engine. We recently tested the new turbocharged engine, and—surprise—it was quicker than the base version. Unfortunately, the Mazda 6 was also the slowest of its similarly powerful rivals from zero to 60 mph. Competitors offer more engine choices and more powerful ones, including turbocharged four-cylinders and even V-6s, all of which outgun the Mazda’s powertrains. The 6 impresses in spite of its power deficiency, offering above-average driving satisfaction for a family sedan, with a fluidity to its controls and handling uncommon at any price point. And Mazda manages to provide the thrills without sacrificing refinement or ride quality. The 6 handles superbly for a front-wheel-drive sedan, and the chassis responds sharply and predictably to steering inputs and aggressive lifts of the throttle, allowing drivers to tailor their line midcorner. Body control is excellent, with very little roll in turns and zero wallow or judders over rippled pavement.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
If you weren’t given the context that the 6’s interior is from, well, the Mazda 6, you’d be forgiven for thinking it belonged in a much pricier car. The quality of the materials impresses, as does the upscale, mature design and restrained detailing. Aside from a few minor annoyances with the interior controls, the cabin is first-rate and best in class. It is eminently useful, at least up front, where there are four cupholders and plenty of space to stash stuff. One of the few ways the Mazda 6 doesn’t outshine its competitors is trunk space: It gets 15 cubic feet, just like the Toyota Camry, and more or less the same as the cabooses in the Honda Accord, the Volkswagen Passat, and others.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Operated primarily by an upscale-feeling control knob on the center console similar to those used by BMW and Audi, Mazda’s infotainment system has the tactility and visual punch to impress. The dashtop display doubles as a touchscreen, albeit one that only works when the car is stationary. As satisfying and easy as that knob is to use, the menus it commands aren’t as intuitive as they could be. For 2018, every Mazda 6 adds an 8.0-inch infotainment screen that replaces the old 7.0-inch unit. Every Mazda 6 comes standard with a color touchscreen display that features a USB port, an auxiliary audio input jack, voice-control capability, and Bluetooth. The Grand Touring model gets a full-color head-up display that projects speed, traffic signs, and turn-by-turn navigation instructions onto a small flip-up display located on the upper dash in front of the driver.
Safety Features and Crash-Test Ratings
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer’s Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information, visit our guide to every manufacturer’s CPO program.