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.

Drive: Front-wheel

Trim levels: Sport, Touring, Touring Plus, Grand Touring

Body style: Sedan, 5-passenger

Engines: 2.5L I-4, 170 hp, 167 lb-ft
3.7L V-6, 272 hp, 269 lb-ft

Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 5- or 6-speed automatic


CARGO SPACE: 16.6 cu ft

The Mazda 6 carries over unchanged from last year, when it received a face-lift. It’s among the biggest cars in its class, designed exclusively for the U.S. market, and is available with either four- or six-cylinder power. This segment is really heating up with the white-hot Hyundai Sonata, the elegant Kia Optima, and an all-new Toyota Camry, but the 6 rewards its driver with some of the best handling in the class.

Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are ABS, traction and stability control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

All: 18-21 mpg city/27-31 mpg highway

  • Roomy and elegant
  • Good handling and steering
  • Powerful engines
  • No hybrid or diesel option
  • Fuel economy lags behind

The Mazda alternative to the mainstream sedan.

  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Nissan Altima
  • Toyota Camry
  • Volkswagen Passat

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