By on October 30, 2008

When I set out on a comparison test like this, I have one main question in mind: if I were in the market to buy a new car for my family, which one of the cars tested would I buy? I love supple leather seats, premium sound systems, grippy wide tires and an engine with the torque of a diesel freight train. But the reality at this time is that my employer, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, has lost billions of dollars in recent quarters. Its epic balance sheet can now be described as fragile. As a financial controller, I see first-hand how budgets are being drawn in asphyxiatingly tight. I know that I’m not alone in feeling nervous about my future in this economy. So which of these family sedans would I buy? The Mazda Mazda6 i Sport.

The Mazda6 proves that buying a practical family sedan does not have to be a five year prison sentence of  Kafkaesque driving. WYSIWYG: the Mazda personifies the sophisticated sports sedan. Let’s try a little word association. Camry: Beluga. Accord: Bloated. Altima: Zen. Mazda6: Zoom. As cheesy as it sounds, from its RX-8 inspired fenders and light clusters to its aggressive rear haunches, the Mazda6 wears the Zoom-Zoom moniker well. Okay, I admit the four-cylinder is more one Zoom than the double Zoom-Zoom, but it looks the part just as well. Unique in this comparison, the Mazda6 is attractive from any angle-– coming or going.

Unfortunately, the car’s design continuity isn’t as coherent both on the inside and out. The Mazda6i’s interior is a bipolar affair; it may well have been designed by separate committees that never coordinated with each other. On the one hand, there’s the dingy committee that designed the doors and ceiling. The arm rest is a long flat uncomfortable plane with a cheap pocket pull, none of which conforms to how a person’s arm and hand want to relax. Overhead, Mazda fitted a smallish flimsy thin sun visor that looks like it was transplanted from an old Yugo.

The dash was conceived by savant part of idiot savant. From Ford-inspired air vent to air vent, the Mazda6’s dash is the best organized, most visually appealing and highest quality IP of our family quartet. The perfection of the steering wheel shames the other cars (notwithstanding RF’s love for the Accord’s tiller). The blue and orange gauge cluster lighting might be a little Nintendo for some tastes, but overall the ebony layout is more Audi mature than Game Boy. The Mazda6i’s cloth seats are endlessly comfortable and enormously supportive, ideal for both long distance love and all-out horsing around.

A gimmicky push button awakens Mazda’s perky 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve VVT engine. Producing only 170 horsepower, it only offers more juice than the pedestrian Camry. Yet this mini-mill isn’t hamstrung by Nissan’s unfortunate CVT or Honda’s inexplicable porkiness. While the Mazda6i’s not what you’d call a sports car, this engine loves to play hard.

Like the Camry and Accord, the Mazda sports Michelin Energy LX4 tires, though in a narrower P205/65R16 size (compared to P215/60R16 on the Camcords). According to published manufacturer claims, the Mazda is the heaviest of the group by a small margin. Leave it to the suspension to make the car feel and handle like an amorous gnat– flitting back and forth at will with joyous aplomb. The perfectly-weighted steering puts the front wheels intuitively where the driver wants them.

Get into the throttle and the Mazda6i’s five-speed automatic transmission grabs the right cog faster than the Toyota or Honda gear boxes or that irritating Nissan CVT doohickey. Breaking loose from tedious stop-and-go traffic never felt so good. Not in a front wheel-drive four-pot family sedan, anyway.

As you might expect, a suspension serving-up this much control dishes-up a healthy helping of harshness. While the Mazda6i falls far behind the Camry in refinement it’s not far off the marks set by the Accord and Altima. In sum, while the ride is not pillowy cream puff decadence, it remains perfectly livable. And it’s quieter than the noisy Accord to boot.

Going economical this year doesn’t have to be an exercise in self flagellation. None of these cars is bad– and they will all sell well (whatever “well” means). One is as dreadfully underwhelming as comfy grandma underwear [Camry].  One will get more sales based on its fun-to-drive history rather than on its current competence [Accord]. Many drivers will flock to another peacefully unaware that power reaches the wheels by way of a soul-sapping rubber band [Altima]. But above and beyond these, the Mazda Mazda6 i Sport has the ability to put a genuine smile on a pistonhead’s face, or turn a non-pistonhead into something of a, gulp, enthusiast.

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50 Comments on “Comparison Test/Review: First Place: 2009 Mazda 6i...”


  • avatar
    John R

    Tsssk…Meanwhile, the older, but proper Mazda6s can now be had on the low-low. Thanks, new Mazda6!

  • avatar
    barberoux

    Nice review with some BIG pictures. I’m glad to read that others hate CVTs as much as I do. I always think something is wrong when driving one.

  • avatar
    gamper

    Thanks for the reviews. I drove the 2009 Mazda6 V6, love it. The Mazda is really the supermodel of midsizers and really the only choice for an enthusiast, of these four.

    Still, if you are looking for function first, I think the Accord still fits the bill best in segment.

    If you dont mind spending a few extra dollars, I think the new Maxima is easily the front drive family four door champ for enthusiasts, with sport package of course. It is better than all the other cars tested in their V6 trims, Mazda6 comes close. If I was buying right now, I think I would opt for the Maxima.

  • avatar
    plunk10

    The Mazda6 sounds like the Audi of the group. It performs the best, and looks the best, but will probably have the worst depreciation, and possibly the lowest reliability rating.

  • avatar

    The Mazda6 might be the most fun of the four, yet (for me) still not much fun. One zoom at best.

    Like gamper, I enjoyed the new Maxima quite a bit more. On the other hand, the Maxima is more expensive, and why did they have to so torture the sheetmetal?

    On the reliability front, too soon to call this one. TrueDelta would like to have a repair rate ASAP, though. So if you know anyone with a 2009 Mazda6, please send them here:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    jaydez

    William,
    Nice review… I think we work for the same company. I just found you in the directory. lol

  • avatar
    N85523

    Nice series. I wouldn’t mind seeing more along these lines. I don’t know if somebody else has brought this up in the previous reviews, but I think a Subaru Legacy 2.5i would have fit nicely into this line-up. I know they don’t sell in the volumes of the Camcordima-6’s, but it seems to be in approximately the same market and would be my pick of the litter.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The only real issue I have with this car is Mazda’s option packaging. You cannot get stability control without the sunroof, and I can’t fit properly thanks to the inch or two of headroom the sunroof steals.

    I really with manufacturers wouldn’t package major options together. I understand why they do it, and, at least in Canada, Toyota and Mazda are, by a longshot, the worst offenders. This is one area that the GM and Ford do quite well.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    I’ve enjoyed these reviews William. It has made me realize that I really didn’t put enough time into my own decision when I went shopping for a sedan. I wanted something cheaper (than what I’d been calling a commuter car), so I just went to my trusty Honda dealer and the choice, to me, was whether I wanted two more cylinders or not. Of course, after driving the 4 and 6 pots back-to-back, I fell for the additional speed (and options) choice.

    I still won’t consider the Toyota appliance. I would take a look at the Altima, but I just have never liked Nissan products and don’t have the same faith in their reliability. I like Mazda’s emphasis on sportiness and being the maverick. I don’t like that they don’t make stability control standard. They will. They just haven’t caught up yet. Surprising, considering it’s a brand-new car. I know a lot of husbands will place a priority on this if shopping for something that their wife will be driving the kids around in. That linear steering doesn’t mean so much if it’s pointing at the sky from a ditch.

    One thing I don’t get – you say that the Nissan’s CVT is “irritating” and “soul-sapping”, yet you placed it second. I know that I’d like to have a sixth gear in the Accord, along with a manual shift option of some sort, but I have never considered the Accord’s tranny irritating or soul-sapping. Given how important of a function the transmission usually is in day-to-day driving (ha ha), I find your acceptance of this odd.

    I think that the lack of stability control and smaller rear seating is going to be a deciding factor for a lot of families buying these. Many may be coming from a minivan and will not think the Honda is bloated, nor will they think the Toyota handling is sloppy. Both will be better than the whale they just left. Gas mileage is too close to matter. The Honda/Toyota reliability that has been proven over years is going to be the deal maker.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’m glad to read that others hate CVTs as much as I do. I always think something is wrong when driving one.

    I’m not in this camp. I truly dislike automatic transmissions for their complexity and inefficiency. CVTs aren’t inherently slow or power-sapping, but they sound like they might be because you don’t get the accelerative shove accompanying a shift.

    I’ve driven a CVT and AT equipped Nissan Versa as examples, and the CVT actually is quicker; the AT just feels like it.

  • avatar

    I’m curious to see the sales figures (albeit skewed by the market slide). The new 6 appears to be a competent CamCord contendor with a [small] splash of sex appeal. This could truly be Mazda’s first real stab at the mainstream. Combined with the 3 – they’ve got bread and butter wrapped up… in better packaging.

    Let’s hope they market it right.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    For clarification, Electronic Stability Control is standard on the Mazda6 and Accord, as is Traction Control. ESC and TC are options on the Altima and Camry. ABS is standard on all of them.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    In person the Mazda6 is a rather frumpy looking car. The front grill look like a whale with its mouth wide open. The front and rear overhangs are much to big. In profile the cars does not look very balanced, it looks like it wants to see-saw with the wheels pushed too close to the center.
    Unless the wheel wells are filled with some 19″ wheels and tires those bubbly flared fenders look hopelessly out of place. There are lots (maybe too many) of interesting styling tricks on this car but they do not compliment the overall proportions of the car. In the flesh the 09 Mazda6 looks like someone used photoshop to make the elements meet.

    This cars manages to look Goofy in the same way that the last Mazda6 did until Mazda had the good sense to tone it down by getting rid of the silly boy racer body kit look.

    Notice the fact that no pictures of the actual car being reviewed are posted here and we are looking at a loaded v6 model with the larger wheels and the “finished” exterior details. The base car does not do as good a job of hiding the goofiness of this design.

    It is the “Zoom- Zoom” factor that will continue to hurt sales of this car. People do not like cars that look like they are “trying too hard”. It is NOT an RX8 so trying to ape elements of that car’s styling is a bad idea.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    But above and beyond these, the Mazda Mazda6 i Sport has the ability to put a genuine smile on a pistonhead’s face, or turn a non-pistonhead into something of a, gulp, enthusiast.

    I own a 2004 Mazda6s (V6), and the above statement has been so true for me. Four years after buying it, it can still put a smile on my face. There has not been one time since I bought it that I wish I hadn’t. Having driven Camrys and Accords among many other cars, I can’t understand how so many people could choose these cars over the Mazda, unless it’s because they don’t know about Mazda or don’t care to know. I’ll be interested to see how the ’09 Mazda6 compares to the previous generation.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    I like the idea of CVT. I just haven’t driven an implementation that I liked. I tend to think that a conventional automatic transmission with decades of development currently trumps the current state of nascent CVT technology (despite the fact that the theory of a continuously variable transaxle has been around since the days of Di Vinci). If automakers like Nissan stick with it, the day may come when CVT bests the AT.

    As things are now, the CVT is fine for pedestrian day-to-day driving. It’s just a drag when you want to enjoy your car. The rest of the Altima is outstanding: clean design inside and out, nimble handling, nicely weighted steering, refined engine, highest fuel efficiency, excellent stock stereo, etc.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    William C Montgomery :
    October 30th, 2008 at 11:41 am

    For clarification, Electronic Stability Control is standard on the Mazda6 and Accord, as is Traction Control. ESC and TC are options on the Altima and Camry. ABS is standard on all of them.

    Thanks for the clarification. Not sure where I picked up the lack of stability control on the Mazda from. I see that the Mazda also has 5 stars front and side on safercar.gov. Good stuff.

    One additional thing… This thing is the same length, weight, interior dimensions as the Accord – at least close enough to not matter. Why is the Accord the only one considered “bloated”? Maybe people are just comparing it to former Accords.

  • avatar
    Sabastian

    Not to be all “Go America!” about it, but it would have been interesting to see where the Malibu and Fusion fell in this group. Any specific reason that they weren’t included?

  • avatar

    Sabastian: Not to be all “Go America!” about it, but it would have been interesting to see where the Malibu and Fusion fell in this group. Any specific reason that they weren’t included?

    I’ll save you from wondering: Malibu 5th place, Fusion 6th place. Possibly the other way around, but still at the bottom.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    I love the looks and performance of this car, though I’m sad to see the V6 option give way to only a 6 speed auto. The car looks very upscale going down the road with a touch of sportiness mixed in. The only styling element that seems a direct copy is the exhaust pipes on V6 models, which look more Lexus LS every time I see them.

    Great review!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Not sure where I picked up the lack of stability control on the Mazda from.

    That may have been me. It’s not standard in Canada; it’s part of the “comfort package” that adds the sunroof, power seats and a bunch of other crap.

    Why is the Accord the only one considered “bloated”? Maybe people are just comparing it to former Accords.

    Because it’s fashionable to point out how the Accord has grown since the late seventies. No one commments on how the Impala is big because it’s still less of a monster than it’s prior iterations. Heck, no one seems to bring up the fact that the Passat and, get this, the Jetta weigh as much or more than the Accord because we’re used to German cars being heavy bastards.

    The Jetta. Think about how much smaller the Jetta is than the Accord.

    But German cars are “solid”. And while the closing of a door or the feeling of mass in motion has nothing to do with quality, reviewers and, to a lesser degree, customers harped on about the “solid feel” of more massive cars.

    And so when Hondas were light and airy, people complained they were felt insubstantial next to their German or American competition–guess what happened next?

  • avatar

    @ psarhjinian:

    I bitch about the Jetta’s bloated size and horrifyingly ugly styling all the time. A year and a half ago, I led an entire marketing research group in a brutal evisceration of its design, front to back. I find the fact that a 5-cylinder Jetta with automatic weighs more than a Corvette Z06 offensive.

    On a separate note, what the hell does a modern, FWD, four-cylinder family sedan need with stability control? For a tall SUV or a sports car with a propensity for smoking its tires and getting sideways, sure. For a Camry? Why? I’m a big fan of ABS, but I don’t think I’ve ever had any situation in a FWD car where stability control would have helped, and I don’t have any illusions about having a Skip Barber level of driving skill.

  • avatar
    beken

    Nice series of reviews. However, I have not actually seen a new Mazda6 yet, hence I call “no fair” on this review. The Mazda should be the best in this test as it just came out. I have many friends who absolutely love Mazdas. I really liked the previous gen Mazda6, especially with the hatch instead of a trunk. But the overall look of the car was not something my wife liked. She thought it was too “generic Asian” looking. Of this batch of cars, I like the Altima the best…except for the CVT.

  • avatar
    willamettejd

    I realize that life and commerce have inherent constraints, but this would have been a great series in which to add the Subaru Legacy and Hyundai Sonota. They don’t sell as well, but both have great virtues. For anybody in a cold-weather state, the Legacy is an amazing AWD car at the same prize point as these four. Plus, my local subie dealer swears he can get anybody into a Legacy GT (turbocharged with leather interior) for under $26K, which I don’t believe is possible with any of these 4 cars (especially when you consider AWD).

    Speaking of price, did I miss where you mentioned the MSRP of any of these vehicles?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @williametteJD:

    The prices are listed in the section that is linked to under “Comparison Test/ rating summary and performance review: First Place: 2009 Mazda 6i”

    It’s directly to the right of the stars.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    argentla :
    October 30th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    On a separate note, what the hell does a modern, FWD, four-cylinder family sedan need with stability control?

    It’s still possible to lose control with a car, FWD and four-cylinders notwithstanding. It’s less likely than a top-heavy SUV, but still possible. There is a reason why it’s becoming standard equipment on all vehicles.

    Over-correct the steering wheel in the typical “swerve to miss whatever the hell just fell off of that vehicle – we’re all gonna die” type fashion and over-correct with the same ferocity – you’re now heading toward the concrete barrier. I’ve actually seen a Lexus SC 400 do this on the highway. Not pretty. Stability control would have most likely shut him down.

    I’ve had my own ass saved by the Corvette’s excellent Active Handling while on the highway cresting a wet hill. It really wasn’t a speed thing, and it damn sure wasn’t a top-heavy thing. Any vehicle, er person, can lose control under the right condition.

    When you see cops perform that PIT maneuver where they nudge a vehicle from the rear quarter panel, you’re seeing what could happen to you in the sedan if a vehicle accidentally does the same thing to you on the highway. Stability control has a good chance of saving you or minimizing the consequences.

  • avatar
    ktm

    noreserve, you missed the point. You mentioned two RWD vehicles as an example of stability control on a FWD vehicle.

    argentla, you find it offensive that a 4-door sedan weighs more than a 2-door high-end sports car? Do you see anything wrong with that statement?

  • avatar
    noreserve

    ktm :

    FWD isn’t going to help you if your car goes out of control. Stability control will selectively brake an individual wheel and cut fuel to keep you on the intended path. I mentioned the vehicles I did because they are cars and not SUVs.

    FWD and RWD vehicles obviously have different driving dynamics, however, both can get into situations where control is not going to be recovered by the driver’s use of the gas or brake pedal. Those situations (assuming they are within the realm of physics/tire adhesion) will be helped by a system like stability control that can selectively brake a wheel like sticking an oar in the water on one side of the canoe. That and lighting fast fuel shutoff.

    Cars (FWD or not) can still lose control for various reasons. Hydroplaning is one of them. That is actually what happened to me in the Vette. There is no way I could have saved it, simply because I had no way to selectively brake an individual wheel. Even if I did, I most likely would not have been able to do it quickly enough to save it. This had nothing to do with FWD vs RWD.

    There are plenty of video clips out there showing cars losing control from over-correction. You seem to be implying that FWD cars are immune or so unlikely for this to happen that it’s not a worthwhile safety system. I, along with many others, will disagree with you.

    It’s a “do I have my house in order” type of moment when loss of control does happen. I give thanks to the stability control gods when I can, as I probably wouldn’t be here otherwise.

    One example is appropriate here to me – that of side head airbags. There are a number of people who don’t think they’re necessary or who don’t really care if their vehicle has ‘em. If you’ve ever watched the BMW clip years ago when they pioneered them, you’d see the benefit. The pole is unforgiving, even at 20 MPH. It’s just a matter of chance really whether you are in that situation. If you are the dummy, you’d want that cushion as you slide toward that pole. Just as you’d want stability control if your base Altima’s ass end starts to want to come around and say “Hi” doing 65 MPH.

  • avatar
    VFR800A

    When I got my 2007 Altima 3.5SE, ESC was bundled with leather package (in Canada). I couldn’t care less about that option and mostly still don’t see the point. The only time I felt it working were when I wanted it to, meaning I was driving “recklessly” (too fast in snow or rain). It is my opinion (and you’re free not to share it) that in most occasions where ESP is at work, it’s because of driver error. Hydroplaning? Don’t go so fast in the rain! Avoiding an object? Don’t follow too close! All basic lessons I learned in driver’s ed that most people don’t apply anymore.

  • avatar
    CoffeeJones

    I remember reading something about the new Mazda 6 being one of the first Mazda cars that was mostly designed, engineered, and built in the US for the USDM.
    I’m hardly a patriot, but it’s a counter example to the Clarkson-esque mantra of “Americans are fat stupid and ride around in badly made cars.”

    Will this platform be underpinning the 2010 Ford Fusion?
    My father has been using FoMoCo cars since the dawn of time, and if the Fusion is on par with this car, this would be the first blue ovaled car I could strongly recommend to him.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    I gotta say, what in the hell was Mazda marketing thinking with the name MAZDA6? Man, if you wanted someone to screw up the name, there you have it. Gotta capitalize the thing AND make the 6 italic. Oh, and the thing would read – if you’re stating the manufacturer also – Mazda MAZDA6. Sigh… I’d subtract a couple of points for that. :-)

    And don’t forget – It’s “totally, completely, 100% new”. I think I’d remember that name otherwise, thank you.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    I gotta say, what in the hell was Mazda marketing thinking with the name MAZDA6? Man, if you wanted someone to screw up the name, there you have it. Gotta capitalize the thing AND make the 6 italic. Oh, and the thing would read – if you’re stating the manufacturer also – Mazda MAZDA6. Sigh… I’d subtract a couple of points for that. :-)

    And don’t forget – It’s “totally, completely, 100% new”. I think I’d remember that name otherwise, thank you.

    Post submitted twice to parrot Mazda MAZDA6

  • avatar
    Taldan9

    Extra weight on cars = safety equipment and good crash test results. I understand that some people – well, a lot of people – go through life with an attitude about safety that is not intellectually based, but instead is based on a kind of teenage attitude/belief that they are invulnerable and do not need various items of safety equipment, despite scientific proof and evidence as to the number of lives saved/serious injury averted.

    Unfortunately, for the rest of us that do not belong to the Justice League of Superheroes, the ‘kryptonite’ of accidents exists in every day life and we need ESC, seat belts, etc. I have been in the insurance industry for a long time and have heard people explain their failure to use seat belts, from their hospital beds, by stating that they had never been in an accident and didn’t think they needed to wear a belt – ‘a belt can kill you’ is popular.

    Nothing is sadder, of course, then listening to that explanation from the mouth of a parent whose young child is dead or permanently disabled. A belief that ESC ‘does nothing’ or that you don’t need it borders on the irresponsible and certainly displays a lack of understanding about cars and safety.

    On a lighter note, I test drove an Accord and a Mazda 6…and chose the ‘heavy’ Jetta TDI with its ‘excessive’ torque.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Extra weight on cars = safety equipment and good crash test results

    One point about ESC that detractors miss: it’s all software, and it weighs nothing. When people talk about mass and safety, it’s crash structure (and bigger engines, transmissions with more gears, more metal in general) that results in increased mass, airbags aren’t heavy, and the electronics and software to run ESC can’t weigh more than pound.

    I’d second that ESC should be a mandatory feature. People aren’t going to magically become better drivers (and, really, it’s not like they’re really much worse than they every have been) and, even then, bad things happen to good drivers who are otherwise doing all the right things.

  • avatar
    Sabastian

    I’ll save you from wondering: Malibu 5th place, Fusion 6th place. Possibly the other way around, but still at the bottom.

    Really? I would have thought that the Malibu could have at least beaten the Camry, and the Fusion is known for being pretty decent to drive as well. I don’t, however, disagree with having the Mazda in first place. It looks like a great car.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Taldan9:
    Extra weight on cars = safety equipment and good crash test results. I understand that some people – well, a lot of people – go through life with an attitude about safety that is not intellectually based, but instead is based on a kind of teenage attitude/belief that they are invulnerable and do not need various items of safety equipment, despite scientific proof and evidence as to the number of lives saved/serious injury averted.

    Ok, but where do you draw the line? Mandatory air vent and rear view mirror airbags? How about mandatory helmets for drivers? Or at least for children? If I was a helmet manufacturer I’d run ads stating, “What kind of child hater would put their 8 year old in a car without a helmet?”

    Bottom line: There’s a certain amount of inherent risk in moving at any speed in a car.

    And don’t forget the near total absence of social (or insurance industry) pressure to hold drivers responsible for blindingly stupid behavior. Examples abound:

    Remember all the brain-stem mommys who decapitated their kids by NOT-seat belting them in front of an airbag?!? Or the senior idiot who got probation for mowing down a dozen+ people at that California farmers’ market? Or UPS getting sued because they think (properly in my opinion) that the deaf shouldn’t be allowed to drive a truck.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I’ll save you from wondering: Malibu 5th place, Fusion 6th place. Possibly the other way around, but still at the bottom.…

    I guess the fanboi filter is set on high. With automatic assumptions like this, even the few truly worthy cars Detroit makes don’t stand a chance.

    Jabba the Hut weight is no guarantee of good crash results, either. Good design is worth more than just senseless mass.

  • avatar
    davey49

    The 6 might be a great car and worthy of a purchase. I think it looks hideous.
    I like boxy cars.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Thank you for this comparo. :)

    It’s useful for real-life people and it was really entertaining. :D Wonder where Sonata would’ve placed.

  • avatar
    changsta

    It is interesting to me that so many find the new Mazda6 so attractive. I think that the front end is absolutely horrendous. The headlights are much too droopy looking, and I feel that it absolutely ruins the car. The European version manages to somehow look much more expensive.

    Having said that, the interior is quite nice on first inspection, but look a little closer. I sat in one while my Mazda5 was in the shop, and I noticed that the slotted piece of plastic on the central part on the top of the dash was improperly fastened on all sides… the car I sat in was the GT V6, so I was more than a little disappointed… that trim lever stickers over $33,000 in Canada.

    I think that while the Mazda and Nissan might be more fun to drive etc, if I were buying for the long haul, I would be purchasing an Accord, styling be damned!

  • avatar

    @ ktm

    I’m offended that a compact sedan weighs more than a big, bulky sports car with a seven-liter V8. That the Jetta weighs more than, say, a Miata is one thing, but a Corvette is not a small car.

    More to the point, I’m annoyed that the Jetta weighs over 300 pounds more than many of its similarly sized competitors. The five-cylinder Jetta weighs something like 350 pounds more than a well-equipped Mazda3 2.3 sedan, which is not exactly svelte itself.

    I agree, though, that comparing stability control on a powerful, RWD car like a Corvette with a FWD family sedan is kind of spurious. A powerful rear-drive car tends to be prone to lift-off oversteer, which is rare on FWD cars. Most FWD family sedans understeer, and lifting off will just tuck the nose in. If it breaks loose, it’s more likely because of surface traction conditions (wet or icy road, broken pavement), and stability control can’t save you from that.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Nice to see mazda garnering some success with this model in terms of comparos. While I do agree that this car wins this battle in 4cyl form, I also think that it loses the war.

    I would be suprised if this latest version outsells the prior for two reasons: First, I suspect that many who were Mazda loyalists have left the group due to automatic only V6 trims, and the loss of hatchback and wagon versions. Second, there are simply too many other viable contenders in this segment to poach the mazda buyer. Subaru regulary poaches sales to cross-shopping mazda traffic in my area (including myself at last time).

    To the commenters that take issue with the styling: the boy racer versions were the later ones with altezza taillights 18inch wheels and lower valance fog lamps. The earlier ones were cleaner and in 2003, the 6 was drop dead gorgeous compared to its competition. It really boils down to whether you accept the RX8 influence or not. If you don’t like it, you will not be fond of the styling of this car or practically anything Mazda offers.

  • avatar

    Up until mid 2006 I was driving a big V8 ford looking for a new small car that will save me some gas, that was a big deal for me.
    I was at Costco parking lot ready to do my weekly shopping and as I approach the store entrance, 2 nice girls, standing next to 2 black Mazda 6’s, asked me if I would like to take a test drive and get a $20 gift card to use in Costco.
    You need to be a moron to say no, so as we go on the hwy, I’m trying very hard to keep the speed around 60 (V6 model) and the girl keep pushing me, “hit the gas, see how it feels”, I was thrilled, the car felt so good, I never drove a 4 door car that felt so eager and fun, it was a big contrast from the Avis rental Camry I had for a week that summer.
    At the end, I did not get the 6 but the 2.3 liter 3 hatch, the smile is still on my face every time I drive it.
    Love Mazda!

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    You need to be a moron to say no, so as we go on the hwy, I’m trying very hard to keep the speed around 60 (V6 model) and the girl keep pushing me, “hit the gas, see how it feels”, I was thrilled, the car felt so good, I never drove a 4 door car that felt so eager and fun, it was a big contrast from the Avis rental Camry I had for a week that summer.

    Haha. If only ever test drive went like that… “Go ahead, see how it feels. Go faster!”

    :)

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Multiple studies have concluded that stability control reduces accident rates.

    from http://www.esafetyaware.eu/en/activities/esc_information.htm :

    ” Mercedes data indicates that the installation of ESC as standard equipment on all of its vehicles has resulted in a 29 percent reduction in single-vehicle crashes and 15 percent fewer crashes overall. Based on these figures, the widespread installation of ESC in the United States could save as many as 5,000 lives and nearly $35 billion in economic losses annually. This study, which implements German government data, is especially significant because all new Mercedes vehicles are equipped with ESC as standard equipment.

    DEKRA Automotive Research in Germany indicates a 27 percent reduction in serious loss-of-control crashes. It also reports that 37 percent of corner accidents are definitively influenced by ESC, confirming the Mercedes findings.

    The European Accident Causation survey, conducted throughout Europe, shows that ESC had a positive influence on the total number of loss-of- control accidents.

    The Swedish National Road Administration study shows that ESC was found to reduce accidents with personal injuries. It goes on to recommend the implementation of ESC in new cars as quickly as possible and also advises consumers to choose vehicles with ESC, especially in countries with wet and icy roads.

    A study by Toyota in Japan reports that vehicles with ESC showed a 35 percent reduction of single-vehicle crashes, which could save an estimated 6,000 lives annually in the United States, and a 30 percent reduction of head-on crashes, saving another 2,500 lives. The study also confirms Mercedes’ conclusion that ESC is more effective in higher speed ranges when vehicle dynamics play a greater role and when the crashes that occur are more severe.”

    Interestingly enough, the data for ABS by itself has shown almost no reduction in accidents. The problem with ABS appears to be that people don’t use it because they don’t just stomp on the brakes as hard as possible when it would help, and some people feel the vibration from ABS activating and BACK OFF, which is the wrong response. Stability control, on the other hand, doesn’t require any change in driver instincts to work it’s magic.

  • avatar
    Taldan9

    ihatetrees:

    “Ok, but where do you draw the line?”

    You draw the line at the point where scientific evidence demonstrates diminishing returns.

    It is tricky; for example, I had a school bus case that showed that the local school board could have designed routes – requiring more buses, more money – that meant no kid would cross the road after getting off a bus. Is this going too far? Additionally, having an additional employee on every school bus, a monitor, reduced, at the time, child fatalities getting off a bus to zero for the 6 year period (in California) prior to this case. The school board did not have monitors. The Board was either ignorant or felt it important to save local taxpayers the increase in taxes necessary to pay monitors.

    Currently, there is a movement to require back up sensors on all cars. The equation here is 6 children, since the average number of deaths of children who are killed, by their parents, in back up accidents is 6 per year.

    How do you make that call?

    By the way, a leading cause of car accidents involving children in this jurisdiction are parents hitting children around school drop offs.

    Yes, people are foolish and drive badly.

    Going off to discuss helmets in cars, etc., goes too far, but the real world discussion, if you are a legislator or a government official is very real. In fact, you hold people’s lives in your hands and have to overcome resistance to safety measures.

    “And don’t forget the near total absence of social (or insurance industry) pressure to hold drivers responsible for blindingly stupid behavior.”

    I happen to agree with you on this. A lot of people in the insurance industry believe that driving impaired – once – should rate a lifetime ban. Unfortunately, all that will do will increase the number of drivers who drive with suspended licenses. Jail time for driving offenses does not meet with societal approval, unfortunately. Juries do not support such efforts, for reasons that are difficult to fathom, until you think about the issue of intent in criminal law.

  • avatar
    DearS

    Now I’d like to see the Mazda 6i go against the Cayenne V6, Lexus ES350, Lincoln MKS, a Boxster and even a Big pickup. I don’t like the taboo associate around such comparisons. Its ok to want to choose to explore what it means to compare all of these vehicles for purchase. Is the Cayenne worth me working harder? Is the ES350’s luxury and power better than a Mazda 6i’s sporty character to me? Is it worth working to get the ES350? Is it worth owning both at different times? I want to think beyond the fucking box that has become a fucking obstacle to my freedom. I fucking hate such behavior. Anyhow, I like the review.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Looks like the old Mazda6. The only difference are the big muffler and the new front end.

    170 hp is too soft for a big car like this.

    I don’t like the buttons on the steering wheel. They are too small to press. If this is a good car the CRUISE CONTROL should work while on third gear or used the cruise control for paddle shifting like what I do with my 08 Lancer.

  • avatar
    campocaceres

    Not too surprised this car is first place considering Mazda has had a little more time to tweak it before bringing it to market compared to the other brands.

    I like its looks. To me, it is fresh without being overly obnoxious. I actually got a “trying too hard” feel from the previous iteration, this one seems to take many of the same styling elements and adds a little understated maturity (again, my opinion).

    However, I do feel that the silver surrounding the foglights was a mistake on darker cars. This car looks better in white.

    Also, is the wagon version going to make it to the US? I actually think that version looks almost sexy. Not tall and frumpty like wagons tend to be, more of a shooting-brake resemblance without the overly elongated look that tends to come with that.

    Also, on the weight thing, don’t forget that a big complaint about the Honda is that it feels heavy too. If this car feels nimble and darty despite its relative weightiness, what is there to complain about?

  • avatar
    usmc4hire

    While shopping for a new mid-size family bla, bla, bla I took the Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Ford for a run. My last stop was at Pontiac where I fell in love with the G8 GT (yea, I know, totally different car). The Pontiac dealer was so desperate for my sale that he offered to let me keep the car for a week. What a huge mistake on his part (while fun to drive, the G8 was a hunk of poor fitted crap).

    Thanks to a number of reviews I went to check out Mazda’s 6. Knowing that I didnt want a I4 I went strait for the V6. What a joy to drive. It didnt take long for me to talk the needy dealer (needed end of month numbers) down several thousand on a fully loaded touring model.

    For the week that I have owned this car it has been amazing. Great fit and finish (way above the others in this group). Has a great sportiness that this group has been missing. While its no G8 GT in the speed department, I get to the stoplight in comfort, style, and in a reliable way. All that and I’m only 1 second slower. I’ll take it.

  • avatar
    treedom

    I was at the Mazda dealer the other day getting a new headlight bulb for my Mazda3 and happened across a shiny black 2009 Mazda6 V6. The car is unbelievably beautiful in a dark color — Mazdas in general look far better in person than in photographs. The 18″ wheels of the 6-cyl model fill out the wheel arches properly. The RX8 style fenders are breathtaking. The rear is a little Lexus-generic, but you could do worse than look Lexusy. The interior, with its fake zebrano wood and footwell lighting, made me feel like I got a $50,000 raise. The rear seat and trunk are gargantuan. The features (this one had a value package of some sort) are dizzying, from blind-spot warning to Bluetooth. And the thing is packing damn near 300 horsepower. So of course I had to drive it.

    First, surprise: dead battery. It seems nobody is in the market for a 17 mpg performance sedan. Next: it may look Lexusy but it doesn’t drive that way: road noise and impact harshness are surprisingly prominent. And yet: not a hoot to drive. For one thing, like the new Accord, it is so physically BIG that us small-car guys don’t feel comfortable placing it. For another, the steering is overboosted, and the 6-speed autobox is dedicated to the doomed mission of wringing some economy out of the exuberantly profligate powerplant, meaning slow downshifts and eager upshifts. One hopes it’s an intelligent auto that learns your driving style over time, but the salesman didn’t know.

    Like all Mazdas, the illusion it gives of driving a much more expensive car will inevitably be shattered at some point by some detail: a hard armrest, an underwhelming stereo, a rattle from the steering column, the bizarro cloth-and-leather seats.

    Then they offered to sell it to me at an enormous discount. Like, down to what I paid for my Mazda3 4 years ago. I’m not sure I need a sedan the size of Kansas that drinks like an SUV and STILL doesn’t have a proper dog-compartment like a wagon. But I’m as intoxicated by gross excesses of horsepower as the next dude. And as the ladies say about that Coach bag on sale for half price, “how can I afford NOT to buy it?”


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