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.