2014 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring Driven

The good news for Mazda is that, in the month just ended (July), the new 6 midsize sedan saw its sales jump by more than 167 percent over the previous model. The bad news is that figure is still only one-tenth the volume Toyota did with the Camry. Clearly, the midsize sedan arena is one that is dominated by big names with outsized reputations and huge built-in buyer bases. But for those who'd rather not see themselves coming and going, the Mazda 6 provides an alternative take on the midsize sedan formula, one that speaks particularly to enthusiasts.

If Looks Could Thrill
The Mazda 6 does not have the lozenge-like shape that's so common among midsize sedans. The look is purposeful and yet the lines are flowing. For a front-wheel-drive car, the proportions aren't terribly nose-heavy. Compared to the previous model, Mazda was able to shorten the front overhang while stretching the wheelbase. The overall length, however, is no greater. It makes for a more athletic look than you typically see in this class.

Inside, however, isn't quite so stylish. The all-black interior of my test car was relieved only by a bit of red contrast stitching and some dark silver trim. What the interior lacks in style, however, it makes up in function. Three large gauges are easy to read, the climate controls are large round knobs that can be operated by feel, so too can the audio system's volume and tuning knobs. The multifunction navigation screen won't dazzle you with its graphics and the touch points are small but there is a redundant iDrive-style knob controller on the console that works well. Speaking of navigation, this is another Mazda that uses a TomTom system, which lacks detail in its map but is good with its turn-by-turn directions and its ability to reroute you due to traffic.

Alert drivers will appreciate the seating position of the Mazda 6, which seeks not to relax you or give you a Shiatsu massage but to put the driver in a good working relationship with his surroundings. The seat has firm lateral support without being confining. A prominent dead pedal is well placed. You don't look out over a vast expanse of dashboard or around thick A-pillars. Speaking of visibility, the bi-xenon, swiveling headlamps in the Grand Touring model, deserve a special shout-out, as they are truly excellent.

Returning to the subject of the interior, one must acknowledge that rear-seat riders don't fare quite as well here as they do in some competitors (Honda Accord, Nissan Altima), although there is room for a six-footer behind a six-foot driver. Rear-seat headroom is adequate despite the sloping roofline. And padded surfaces are strategically located, front and rear.

The Mazda of Mid-Size Sedans
Once again, as with the Mazda 3 and the CX-5, it's the chassis of the Mazda 6 that surprises by being a standout. Maybe that shouldn't be so surprising anymore. One immediately notices the responsive steering and quick reflexes of what by all rights should be a sleepy family machine/commuter drone. In the 6, Mazda engineers have imparted a firm, almost Germanic suspension, without giving passengers a punishing ride.

A chassis like this makes one wonder what this car could be like with an engine that is equally sporting. As it is, the Mazda 6 uses the corporate 2.5-liter four, which brings to bear a respectable 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. With the six-speed automatic transmission (a manual is also available), it makes for adequate if not scintillating acceleration. More importantly, however, it returns excellent fuel economy.

High MPG Without a CVT
At our first encounter with the new Mazda 6 last fall, before EPA estimates were available, Mazda staffers shared their expectation that the 6 would achieve "class-leading" fuel economy. But given that the just-introduced Nissan Altima had been rated at a pretty incredible 27/38 mpg (city/highway), that seemed a very high bar. After all, Mazda, unlike Nissan with the Altima or Honda with the Accord, had (correctly) chosen to go with a six-speed automatic rather than pursue ultimate efficiency -- but sub-ultimate driving satisfaction -- with a CVT. Now that the EPA numbers are in, we see that Mazda is able to match the Altima's class-topping 38 mpg highway figure and that it falls only 1 mpg short in the city, with a rating of 26 mpg -- a very impressive showing. In my week of mostly suburban driving, I got an indicated 31 mpg overall.

Mazda also will soon be selling its Skyactiv 2.2-liter turbodiesel engine in the 6, which should deliver even better fuel economy. That engine, which like its gasoline counterpart will be available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, is due to go on sale in the second half of 2013.

With a pleasant and highly efficient base engine, and a mileage-champ diesel on the way, that still leaves open the option of a performance mill -- perhaps a V-6 or a turbo four? True, such a choice would be a niche offering, but it would play to the car's strengths. And as the new 6 already proves, a niche offering can be a very nice offering.

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Just bought the 2014 Mazda 6 Touring.  Love the styling, good fuel economy with 31 MPG on spirited driving.  Steering feedback is responsive with firm but not harsh suspension.  I was debating the Accord EX, or Fusion but I decided on the Mazda 6 due to its styling and standard options on the Touring model.  
The problem with the diesel is related to capturing unburned hydrocarbons for emissions. If the car is driven too often for short trips where the oil doesn't get up to temperature or if the engine shuts off during a re-injection cycle, it can find its way into the crankcase oil. Pretty much every modern diesel with these filters are susceptible, not just Mazdas. The problem essentially comes down to this: If you drive a lot of short trips, you need to follow a stricter maintenance schedule of checking oil more often and getting it changed if the level rises too much. (If that is too difficult for you, you should not buy any diesel.) If you normally drive longer distances, a less strict maintenance schedule can be followed with less frequent oil changes.
@ James Katt:  Can you tell me where you got this info?  I would love to read about it.  I can't imagine Mazda would release the diesel if these oil problems (well, they aren't problems, they are just bad engineering) were the best they could do.  If your info is not recent, hopefully Mazda has fixed the problems,
James Katt
As if 8/26/2013, I read that the Mazda 6 Diesel is having severe problems.  Apparently, with the diesel, you must check the oil every 600 miles. And you have to get an oil change every 1200 miles.  Otherwise, the diesel engine seizes up and the warranty is cancelled.  This is abominable.  What happens after the warranty expires?  Do you still have to get an oil change every 1200 miles or the engine seizes up?Having to get an oil change every 1200 miles is ludicrous.  It is also very expensive over the lifetime of the car. In contrast, the BMW X5 diesel only needs an oil change every 10,000 miles. And you don't have to check the oil every 600 miles.  This is sad.  But then Mazda has no experience with diesel engines like Volkswagen or BMW.
Good thing I went for a 2014 Mazda 6 Touring 6MT. Handling is superb. Near German in feel, close to my old ride, a B5 Passat. Granted with EPS, the Mazda 6 is not plagued with the same notorious "wandering steering" problems common with the Camry, Optima or Sonata, nor transmission issues plaguing the Accord (CVT) or engine oil leaks (V6). FYI, these issues are based on owner complaints from the NHTSA Safe car.gov website.
@Sabbas P:  I don't know where you live, but where I live there is no such model in stock.  In fact there are very few new Mazda 6's in the Rochester, NY area .for sale.  Which transmission do you have?  (You don't say whether you have a stick or auto, which usually means you have an automatic.)  Unfortunately, you can only get a sunroof with the Grand Touring.  Mid-level Accords (EX) have a sunroof standard, and most all mid-level midsize cars have a sunroof option.  Mazda made a big mistake with the touring not having a sunroof available as an option.
Sabbas P
I would never pay $30k for any midsize sedan. However, I did pay $24k for my 2014 midlevel Mazda6 Touring. It has Almond Leatherette surfaces to contrast the otherwise darker interior (much better than any competitors cloth seat offerings at this price point). The touchscreen Pandora/Bluetooth stereo offers much better sound quality than the Accord and Altima mid level stereos. I average between 34-37 MPG in a 50/50 highway/suburban split route and I averaged 40.3 MPG on a trip to/from Atlantic City last weekend. It also surprisngly comes standard with Blindspot monitoring and Rear Crosspath detection-very useful after a long night in Atlantic City. The Touring Mazda6 is by far the best value in its class, it is just too bad there are hardly any reviews of it. It looks almost exactly like the Grand Touring model on the outside/inside and far better thannanything in its class.
Ken Johnston
The new 2013 Honda Accord has beat all rivals in overall performance since being introduced (Passat, Camry, Sonata/Optima cousins, Fusion, Malibu, Altima etc) and in a Car and Driver event driving around two tight cone courses at Candlestick Park in SF and other places the handling if the Accord was obvious over the Sonata, Camry and Altima (the Ford Fusion did not make it to SF but was included elsewhere).... The Mazda 6 roundly beat that same 2013 Honda Accord in recent comparisons in both Car and Driver and Motor Trend ..... The Impala is a full size and rated well recently against the Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, etc in its category but will not come close to the Mazda 6, Honda Accord, etc in the midsize handling performance.....
Mizi Mtshali
Very Mercedes face
James Moody
I would like to see how it does against the Passat and new Impala.
Ken Johnston
The KIA Forte is a compact and competes with the Mazda 3 which will blow every current compact (no diesel yet though for the 3) when it releases in september.... The KIA Optima and related Hyundai Sonata are the midsize cars that compete with the Mazda 6.... They have great content and warranties but Mazda has rated #1 for both the Mazda 6 and related Mazda CX-5 off the same platform due to its handling and suspension .. the Koreans have not mastered this yet but the Kias look great with their lead designer stolen from Audi several years ago....
Justice Edwards
I dig the styling, but you can get a KIA Forte SX and it will just about outperform this car, for a lot less jack.
#btc909:  It's only a "graveyard at night interior"  if it has a black interior.  Buy one with the "dune" interior.
Jake Chapman
Mazda's are now the most fun you can have for under 30k. The hottest family sedan on the market!
Get rid of the graveyard at night interior, the 5.8" NAV screen needs to go, make i-ELOOP standard.  This will need to lose the 6 speed auto eventually.
Mattso Samsonite
Mazda came up with this one on their own! ...proud of them, it was time.
Waleed Amin
متعة القيادة
Making a turbo 4 available would bring more enthusiasts to the table. The new 6 is already a fun car to drive through the twisties. However, it's not as quick as the new Accord or Altima.  I will either stick with intro luxury for now, or perhaps wait a bit longer to see what Subaru does for the next gen Legacy coming out late 2014.
If I wanted a 4 cylinder midsize I don't think I would pay over 30K.  That is the price of an Accord V6 with all the goodies except the nav.  (For some stupid reason Honda charges an anachronistic $2,000 for the nav system.  And this is not a package-- all you get is the nav with the buttons on the dash and steering wheel and, oh yeah, the screen has more pixels.)  I have driven new Mazda 6's with both automatic and manual transmissions.  I was impressed.  Then again, I was impressed with the Accord CVT model and a bare bones Fusion 2.5.  I think that we are at the point where you can just point at a midsize car and take it home and be quite happy with it.
James Moody
Does Ford and Mazda still share chassis etc. Sure seems like a twin sister to the Fusion
@ed124cThe one that shows all of the dirt?  I have a beige / cream colored interior vehicle now, I won't do that again.
@Matt Simmons Funny I used to think it was Ford that was saving Mazda all those years. Also that Skyactiv was a gimmick.I always knew Mazda had the best driving compact (Mazda3) for a long long time, but gave credit to the Ford partnership.Now it feels that Ford was a boat anchor keeping Mazda from really shining. I wish that Mazda broke away 10 years ago.Can't wait to see what Mazda does in the next 10 years as Skyactiv goes thru the entire lineup then goes onto the 2nd gen of refinement...

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