The Mazda 6 has long been one of our favorite mid-size cars, but it's had a hard time hitting its stride in a segment of the market that's crammed with ever-better -- and ever-better-looking -- sedans. Launched in 2009, the current-generation Mazda 6 is an elegant, modern sedan with flared front fenders reminiscent of the newly departed RX-8 sports car. With imposing presence and upscale looks, the 6's exterior is as handsome as it is conservative--especially when viewed next to some of this segment's more flashy entries. Inside, the 6 is highly functional. Upscale options include a blind-spot monitoring system, touch-screen navigation, keyless go, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and a backup camera. The spacious rear seats split and fold, giving access to a very large trunk. Under the hood is an optional V-6 that's the biggest in its class. Originally seen in the CX-9 crossover, the 3.7-liter V-6 found in the uplevel 6s brutalizes the front wheels with 272 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, and yet torque steer is commendably well controlled. In reality, the base 6i's 2.5-liter four-cylinder is powerful enough for most drivers, even if its five-speed automatic transmission isn't quite as refined as the V-6's six-speed. The four-cylinder is also available with a six-speed manual, an homage to Mazda's Zoom-Zoom mantra.
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