Midsize Madness - Day Three

Patrick M Hoey

Ford Fusion vs. Mazda 6

2013 Ford Fusion SE

  • "The Fusion drives like a car that's just stopped in this category for a courtesy cup of coffee on its way to an Audi A4 comparison test," says Jordan. "Actually, I think it might win a comparison like that."
  • Pudgy and obtrusive styling corrupts the airy cabin we want, the tallish Christopher Nelson says.
  • Absolutely great cargo capacity; now if only it were more usable. Try to reach deep into the trunk and the bumper holds you back. Maybe if you had a stick to move things around.
  • The Fusion's sleek exterior doesn't wow us any longer. "It looks slab-sided in profile, what with all the metal below the high beltline," says Skogstrom.
  • "MyFord Touch needs more attention than I can give it," says Blackwell. "For instance, just adjusting the climate control takes my eyes off of the road for longer than I'd like."
  • "Well, at least MyFord Touch actually looks good," says DeMatio. "I'm surprised by how comparatively ugly the screens are in other cars in this class."
  • There's a solid quarter-inch gap where the door panel meets the instrument panel at the A-pillar, Lassa discovers. Maybe Ford's build quality isn't as good as some of its competitors'.
  • The way the doors shut and the trunk closes reminds you that you're driving, well, a Ford. "The execution is slightly half-assed," says Nelson.
  • It's stylish and good to drive - but neither stylish enough nor good enough to drive that it should shrink the view from the driver's cockpit the way it does," says Zenlea.
  • For a car that's all about sport, there's an extreme focus on form over functionality. Everything you touch tries too hard to be stylish rather than usable.
  • A little heavy and underpowered compared with the competition, even though it feels very sporty and alert. And it's not that comfortable and quiet on the freeway, is it?

2014 Mazda 6 Grand Touring

  • Nelson is hoping to discover a cut-price BMW 3-series but is disappointed to find just another midsize sedan. He says, "To say it's more exciting to drive than its competitors is like saying a bowl of Special K breakfast cereal with banana slices is more exciting than plain old Special K."
  • The direct-injected Skyactiv-G four-cylinder is lively but isn't powerful in the midrange. Good thing it's aided by a very good automatic transmission; we love that manual mode will hold gears to redline.
  • "The well-placed paddle shifters encourage you to use the manual mode, which makes the car really enjoyable," says Skogstrom.
  • The car looks gorgeous from the front-three-quarter view, but the exterior isn't so attractive that it puts the rest of the midsize pack to shame.
  • "What a likable personality this car has," says Jordan.
  • "Mazda can't make magic with its interior the way it has with its exteriors," says DeMatio. It's very dark inside the Mazda 6, and the rear seats are comfortable but a bit claustrophobic. Less overall legroom than the Fusion.
  • A wide trunk opening, lots of usable cargo space, and 60/40-split folding rear seats that go down almost completely flat.
  • "This is a great balance of style and usability," says Zenlea. "I like the sporty steering wheel, supportive seats, and even the handbrake."
  • Reassuringly tight feel to the structure, exceeded only by the Fusion, which is about 200 pounds heavier.
  • Better city fuel economy than the Fusion by 2 mpg; better on the highway by 1 mpg.
  • "Fine highway comfort although a bit more road noise than you'd like," Jordan says. "A cruising range of about 500 miles if you're up to it."

Ford and Mazda are playing the same sporty-sedan game, but the Fusion can't match the 6's poise or prowess. While Ford is pushing the boundaries of consumer preferences with a car that doesn't look or drive like the usual choices in this segment, the automaker didn't nail down this car's details. The Fusion has a great chassis and a good powertrain, but it doesn't feel like a put-together package. The Mazda does, and this makes it a friendlier, more usable car in daily life.

Winner: 2014 Mazda 6 Grand Touring. The Mazda 6 moves into the final round.

We're down to our last two cars as the Honda Accord and Mazda 6 vie for overall victory. Check back tomorrow to read the head-to-head comparison of our finalists.

2 of 2
honda--take sominex tonight and sleep, safe and restful sleep--BOOOOOOORRRRRRIIIIIIIIINNNNNNGGGGGGG! Volks--nice looking, Mazda--very good looking with flair, Ford--nicest lines out there and very nice interpretation of Aston, Camry--not as boring as before but still suffers from "me too" styling...
Van K
So you pair the two best driving sedans against each other. Is this to minimize the bias of your inevitable push for middle of the road sedans?
Nick Ardito
Mazda baby ford sucks Hondas for old people and Toyotas are for girls. Mazda's #1 zoom zoom
Benito Pena
Mahmoud Akbarpour
A Ford one for sure
Hans Sliter
Passat VR6 SE in mine now!
Niranjan RajuKurian
face 2 face
Ben Zim
Marius Razafimahatratra
Dammy Onafowokan
Mazda. The fords profile is bloated. A pretty grille alone does not a great car make.
Simon Yee
"Bargain cars though?" Smh.Historically, VWs are known to be the least reliable too. So good luck having a better resale value with that.
Vinny Aces
None!! Of them!! ... An A4 or a C300 mb... Cause those cars posted, fully load is not far from base model premiums.
Mohammad Akbarpour
Ford brings what is expected from blue oval. So the Fusion is my take
Stefan Sliter
Raymond Doherty
I think this is a great article, I have not been surprised yet although the winner will be tough to pick. I would take the Mazda but I know that Accord is a vast improvement and it's very very good. Also the Mazda touring at 25K is really close to the GT, you wouldn't miss most of the stuff and they look almost identical.
Christopher A. Henderson-Johns
(}) Mazda 6 Zoom Zoom!!!
Thomas Voelker
Neither has enough side design .
Lee Klein
Passat is the winner...it's a no-brainer.
Bill Flintrop
The Mazda looks better, it's styling is more original. The grill on the Fusion looks like it was stolen from an Aston-Martin.
Jake Chapman
If you're dealing with the TDI then thats definitely the case. ^
Geoff Ekenstam
On American Roads
shouldn't this be game 6? accord-passat was #5... since mazda-nissan was #4!
Tim Lucas
These are definitely the pretty ones. I was hoping they would be the top 2. Fusion is my favorite.
Joe Sledge
I haven't driven the Mazda yet, but the new engine choices intrigue me. That may be the first diesel I've wanted. The Fusion's styling is both attractive and unerstated, making it appealing to a wider range of owners. But that 6 sure looks good. (})
Chuck KidneyPain Lowery
Ford but I like the Mazda too
John Hand
Alex S Lui
Mazda 6 has a original design, ford just ripped a Aston grill and call it a design....they own Aston or not, Aston style on a ford just doesn't look right to me
Mattso Samsonite
Put some slicks on em and run around Laguna Seca! Makes for a good read!
Brpraveen Kumar
its de ford
Alienx Trm
(}) 6 FTW!
Rick Merschantz
Simon Yee
Passat's resale value worth twice the Fusion/Mazda6? Come on now Craig...
Automobile Magazine
I'm not quite following, Craig--are you saying we should have used a different Passat, or that the system was flawed in general? I'd love for us to use the Passat TDI, personally, but it would have cost so much more than, say, the Optima/Sonata that the average consumer wouldn't bite. An extra $5k on a $25k car is 20 percent, after all. -BT
Miles Krasic
Passant easily wins in regards to its sporty dynamics. The Accord exceeds in everything else.
Craig Stishenko
Fact is, price point should have been forgotten. Trim level and options being the same across all cars - and then note how much more expensive one is than the other. VWs have always been pricier, for same options and trim.. But consider at resale time, it will be worth twice the Fuzion or 6. This could have been a great article, but its easy to find a clear winner.. That with the biggest bang for the buck. Should have been called, Midsize Most for Least.
Geoff Ekenstam
Passat all the way
Craig Stishenko
I normally like the articles you guys write.. But this time Automobile Magazine, I'm not impressed. Your car selection has not been apples to oranges, but granny smiths to fujis. Your putting exciting, youthful versions of your chosen cars up against a very boring variant of Volkswagen Canadas Passat. Now admittedly, a strong VW fan, I like some of the other cars chosen... Our hometeams player wasn't the best suited for this game.
Dong Truong
Arnie Prichep
Lee Klein
Passat. Easy decision.
I must admit I have been reading these dispatches with a certain amount of "detachment". As I stated in another post my youngest is about to leave college and into the world. For about the last 25 years a cars like these have been the staple of my automotive experience, 95 Subaru wagon, 2000 Olds, Saturn L200, Chevy Malibu, etc. What bothers me is that with the execption of Honda Accord none of these manufacturers make a coupe from these sedans. To be honest I have never experienced a market so devoid of choice, you can't even get a real station wagon. I just hope somewhere down the line that these folks take some of the profit from these very nice but somewhat plebeian cars and build something a bit more exciting that doesn't follow this well worn script. 
Erik Summa
Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited with EyeSight
Tommy Carlisle
Chris Story
Dammy Onafowokan
The pass at. Maintenance scares me though
Ford should have keep Mazda. When their products were based on Mazda platforms they were better cars. Now their Fusion is bested by the lighter,  better designed Mazda.
@Johnny.5spSelling a wagon would be a mistake unless a wagon that does sell in another country can be imported into a country that doesn't sell wagons well.  AKA a special order.  I prefer wagons myself.
@Johnny.5sp Nissan and Toyota both had 2 doors, but no one bought them. Same with attempts to sell wagons. What sells are Crossovers ( the modern Station wagon). 
@nknorka It's my opinion that the Fusion is only heavier because of all the "hi tech" features. And I've heard that the 6 isn't as quiet as the Fusion because they reduced the amount of sound insolation.And the Fusion rides on a good chassis, the AM staff commented on that profusely. The Mondeo has been plugging along on this platform for a while now.

@btc909 @Johnny.5sp Well let us hope that there is a change in public fashion, Volvo is going send over a wagon, if it sells well maybe some will follow.

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