Mazda has been living up to its tagline, "Zoom. Zoom.," for years. Long known as the sportier of the Japanese manufacturers, this engineering powerhouse has a knack for designing cars that are simply fun to drive. Take for example, the well-known Mazda Miata. It's not the fastest sports car in the world, but the Miata offers more fun-per-dollar than any of its pricier competitors.
The same has been true of the Mazda 6 sedan, ever since its debut in 2003. The 6 was clearly gunning for Camry and Accord customers, right out of the blocks. But unlike the sleepier Toyota and Honda offerings, Mazada's four-door offered sleek styling and a performance experience – within the budget of average family sedan buyers.
Redesigned for 2014, the new Mazda 6 retains its sportier and sleeker edge on the competition. However, Mazda has clearly stepped up its attempt to reach luxury buyers. The new Mazda 6 is larger, and it looks and feels more like a luxury sedan than a cost-effective sport sedan.
Like its predecessor, the new 6 retains its sporting soul and good looks. This car is fun to drive, great on gas (38 mpg highway), and incredibly good-looking. The more mature Mazda 6 has grown to better accommodate backseat and front seat passengers, too. No complaints from six foot plus back seat riders and the trunk can handle the golf bags to boot.
Inside, Mazda's step upscale includes a litany of luxury options. Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity, a backup camera, voice command recognition, and more. Those with deeper pockets could splurge on the Bose Centerpoint audio and the Mazda navigation system with traffic updates. Like its competitors, a host of safety and security features come standard on the new Mazda 6.
Labeling this car a "6" is now a misnomer; the six-cylinder engine is no longer an option. Sending two cylinders to the grave of federal mileage standards, for 2014 all models come with a 2.5 liter 184 horsepower four cylinder. Now for the good news, it acts nothing like the four cylinders from just a few years ago. Running quietly most of the time, the engine propels this comfortably-sized four door from 0-60 in just 7.0 seconds, very acceptable for a 3,300 lb car.
With a six-speed transmission that butters through its gears like luxury sleds twice its cost, the Mazda's forward thrust is complete. However, what speeds up must slow down. Behind this Mazda's 10 spoke rims lie four disc brakes, which slow the car from 60 to 0 in an impressive 117 feet.
In summary, Mazda has tweaked almost every component on its new Mazda 6. This sporting sedan offers family-budget buyers a luxury looking and feeling vehicle. It delivers plenty of space for five adults, competent mechanics and an exhilarating driver's personality – all while delivering 37 mpg highway.
Best of all, the 6 starts at about $20,880, though it drives and feels more like a $40,000 Infiniti. If you are looking for fun factor-per-dollar--or for any sedan value--you'd be hard pressed to find a better buy.
© 2013 John Dickerson and John Kehlenbeck, Horsepower Auto Reviews
The new Mazda 6's interior feels downright lavish.