This Mazda 6 was a bit of a letdown for me. When Mazda launched its newest-generation 6, the company didn't bother trying to hide that this American-specific model was a bigger, softer car tuned more for the masses. But bigger and softer are quite the opposite of the Zoom-Zoom mantra we appreciate in Mazda cars. Predictably, then, there are shortcomings.
The steering is vague and lifeless on-center, and turn-in feels sluggish. Once you get the wheel turning, things do feel a bit more solid and confident, but it's still far short of my expectations. Handling has also been compromised for the sake of ride comfort.
Despite those shortcomings, there's still plenty to like about this four-cylinder 6. The five-speed automatic in our tester was excellent, making quick, hardly perceptible shifts. The interior is absolutely perfect, both from quality and style perspectives. I was especially intrigued by the wavy gloss black trim pieces with their pattern mimicked in the central seat panels. The four-cylinder moves the car with sufficient authority, but it does groan a bit under moderate acceleration.
When the results are totaled, this Mazda 6 amounts to little more than a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord in my mind. It's a perfectly acceptable mid-size entry for most drivers, but Mazda has lost the edge that used to differentiate this car.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor