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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mazda 6

The Mazda 6 is a mid-size, four-door sedan that's been redesigned for 2014. With fuel economy and sporty, swoopy styling on its side, the Mazda 6 competes with models like the Ford Fusion, Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata. For more details on the latest Mazda6, including pricing, specifications, options, and photos, see our full review of the 2014 Mazda6. Just two generations of the Mazda 6 have...

The Mazda 6 is a mid-size, four-door sedan that's been redesigned for 2014. With fuel economy and sporty, swoopy styling on its side, the Mazda 6 competes with models like the Ford Fusion, Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata.

Just two generations of the Mazda 6 have been built so far, although due to Mazda's change in nomenclature it's partly a continuation of the 626. The first-generation car hit the market in 2002 as a 2003 model and ran for five years. It was available as a standard sedan, five-door hatchback and five-door station wagon. A choice of 2.3-liter four-cylinder and 3.0-liter V-6 engines were available, and could be paired with a five-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual. A Mazdaspeed version of the sedan was also available in 2006 and 2007, but was discontinued for 2008.

The most recent Mazda 6 hit the streets in 2008 as a 2009 model. On its debut, it saw upgraded engines and a new design specific to the North American market. The four-cylinder grew to 2.5 liters and the V-6 grew to 3.7 liters, increasing output for both. The four-door sedan remained, but the five-door and wagon body styles were dropped for the U.S.

Though it came in just the single sedan body style, this 2009-2012 Mazda 6 offered a full seven trim levels over its life span, across a range of economical family sedan models to luxurious grand tourers. The entry-level Mazda 6 i SV offered a strong base feature set including a six-speed manual transmission, the 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine and standard stability control and anti-lock brakes, but did without alloy wheels, keyless entry, or an advanced stereo system. The Mazda 6 i Sport added the option of an five-speed automatic transmission, keyless entry, cruise control, and steering wheel audio controls among other features. The Mazda 6 i Touring had 17-inch alloy wheels, an eight-way power driver's seat, halogen fog lights, and an upgraded six-disc stereo system. Upgrading to the Mazda 6 i Touring Plus deleted the option of a manual transmission while it added a power moonroof, electroluminescent gauges, plus blind-spot monitoring and anti-theft systems.

The Mazda 6 i Grand Touring was the highest-end model. It was fitted with the four-cylinder engine, sharing most of its features of the V-6-powered Mazda 6 s Grand Touring except for the six-cylinder car's 18-inch alloy wheels and six-speed automatic transmission. The Mazda6 s Touring Plus offered the same features as the Mazda6 i Touring Plus, with the substitution of the V-6 engine and six-speed automatic.

From 2009 through 2013, the Mazda 6 changed very little, even though the competitive landscape changed dramatically with the introduction of a new Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, as well in the last year, as new versions of the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, and Ford Fusion.

Mazda launched an all-new Mazda 6 early in 2013 as a 2014 model. While production of the U.S. version moved from Michigan back to Japan, the new car includes the company's fuel-efficient SkyActiv powertrains for much-improved gas-mileage ratings, with a diesel engine on the way as well.

In design, the latest Mazda 6 follows the radical Takeri Concept introduced at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. It's sleek, elegant, and noticeable, andin an early drive, we found the new Mazda 6 to be more refined than ever--with a driving feel that's athletic if not overly sharp and sporty. In the sharp-looking new 2014 model, a 184-hp, 2.5-liter gasoline SkyActiv four-cylinder engine is standard, along with the choice of either a new six-speed manual gearbox (a rarity among mid-size sedans) or a six-speed automatic transmission. Later in the model year, a Sky-D turbo-diesel engine will joint the lineup. Mazda's i-ELOOP system, will also be offered, using capacitors to rapidly store energy during braking or deceleration and make a further improvement in fuel efficiency.

Standard features have been boosted throughout the lineup, although we've found that the latest infotainment interface in the 6 is a little disappointing compared to others in the class. But there is plenty of standout active-safety technology in the 2014 Mazda 6, including Adaptive Front lighting, Rear Vehicle Monitoring, a Smart City Brake Support system, and a Lane Departure Warning System. 

Today the 2014 Mazda 6 starts at just $21,675 and competes against the likes of the Ford Fusion (which it once shared some running gear with), the Nissan Altima, the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry, as well as the Chevrolet Malibu, Subaru Legacy, and Volkswagen Passat.

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