By on July 10, 2014

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TTAC reader Steve submits his review of his 2014 Mazda6 Touring – with a manual!

I drove home in my new Liquid Silver Mazda 6 (Touring with 6MT) in January of this year – at just over $23,000, this is the cheapest new car I’ve bought, and also the most enjoyable.


Having previously owned a 2006 Mazdaspeed6 and more recently a 2011 Nissan Maxima, I had serious reservations about shedding so many ponies from my stable by opting for Mazda’s obligatory 4 banger. However, after a few years of the Maxima’s CVT, my left leg had atrophied to the point where I was bound and determined to buy another manual transmission, despite the power downgrade and the lack of entrants in the midsize sedan segment with an optional third pedal.

My first choice was a Cadillac ATS 2.0 RWD 6MT, but at the time I was shopping, I was not finding any deals. The tiny back seat and my three growing kids didn’t make things easier. The prospect of Detroit winters in a rear-drive car, my own lead foot (turbo engines tend to be thirsty with my driving habits) and the upward creep of the MSRP, I decided to pass.

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Although I looked at the Accord and Fusion, the sexy curves, long hood, imposing grille and general seductiveness of the Mazda6 drove me right into the waiting arms of my Mazda dealer. I opted for the Touring trim level without too much debate as it had the optional 6MT and the Sport was only available with cloth interior and could not be had with the considerably more aesthetically pleasing 19” rims. I considered the auto-only Grand Touring simply because it had quite a few extras not available on the Touring, like a moon roof, navigation, HID headlights, real leather seats and LED running lights to name a few. Had the Grand Touring been offered with a manual, I would probably have one in my driveway. But the Touring trim is really the sweet spot in terms of value; shaving at least $6,000 off of the price compared to a Grand Touring, probably more depending on equipment levels.

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The interior of the Touring trim is no penalty box. Upscale is not a word I would use to describe it, but it is tasteful and competitive with others in the class in terms of material quality. The dash is composed of primarily soft touch materials where it matters in addition to faux carbon and aluminum accents. There are hard textured plastics on surfaces where your hands are unlikely to wander. The seats are “leatherette” trimmed. It is a somewhat convincing leather substitute which is likely to fool those who don’t know better. I find that it is no better or worse than real leather in terms of comfort.

The base sound system is actually quite good; I have been very pleased with it. The Bluetooth audio works very well, as does the streaming Pandora function. HD radio is also nice feature to those who actually still listen to AM/FM. Fire up the car and my Google Music library starts playing where it left off in a matter of seconds; I assume it would do the same for an iPhone. There has been lots of criticism of the infotainment system which I find really unwarranted. It may not be the best, most intuitive system with the largest screen and fastest processor on the market, but I have managed just fine. It makes me wonder just how subjective the love/hate reviews of various infotainment systems must be.Open the manual and learn how to use it people!

The 6 has a touch screen infotainment system with a display that is roughly 5.5 inches, almost the exact same size as my Galaxy Note3. This also raises the question as to the value of these infotainment systems. Armed with a tablet, a giant phone and a laptop, what the hell do I need a fancy in-car infotainment system for? If you cannot manage to launch Google maps on the fly via voice command on your phone for turn by turn directions you probably cannot operate an in-car infotainment system properly either. My point being, these systems, particularly navigation systems, are largely redundant in my opinion. If you are so inclined though, you can use the touch screen or the command dial mounted between the gearshift and cup holders to operate the audio or customize a variety of functions such as the duration of your audible turn signal clicks, the time the exterior and interior lights remain on after the vehicle is turned off and various other functions. Climate control is easy to operate and has proven extremely effective for AC or heat. I have found that all the buttons are fairly well placed and reasonably intuitive to operate.

The back seat is spacious enough to accommodate my three children, two of whom still require booster seats sitting outboard and my five foot tall 8-year-old sitting in the center, but it is admittedly tight with the boosters. There is enough leg room for a 6 foot tall adult to sit in relative comfort behind a 6 foot tall driver.

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It’s true that ingress and egress to the rear passenger compartment is complicated by the sloping roofline but the situation is easily remedied by opening your eyes and not smashing your head into the door frame. If you find the process too daunting, you are probably lucky Darwin hasn’t yet come to claim you as an evolutionary failure in some sort of freak strangulation accident at the hands of some easily escapable contrivance. The front seats are comfortable on longer trips and sufficiently bolstered. The car has a push button start, but curiously, not advanced keyless entry. Only the driver’s window is express auto up/down and the key fob unfortunately cannot roll down any of the windows on a hot day. Headlights are auto off, but not auto on. It has a standard backup camera with cross traffic alert and blind spot monitor. The driver has a power adjustable seat. The rear seats split 60/40 to allow trunk pass through of bulky items. The trunk is sufficiently large for a few golf bags or at least one dead body.

On the road, the 6 feels downright nimble, especially compared to my old Maxima (a 4DSC it was not). The 6’s body stays planted while cornering even on imperfect surfaces where my old Maxima would have lost composure due to suspension rebound. Steering is fairly boosted at low speeds but has nice weight and feel once on the road. The 6 handles the patchy moonscape of Michigan roads rather well, even with the big rims and low profile tires. It is a firm ride, but never feels like it crashes over bumps; gracefully handling road conditions that would have shaken trim pieces off of my old Mazdaspeed6.

The car is not fast, but the 184hp and 185 torques produced by the Skyactiv 4-cylinder are a good match for the chassis and transmission. The powerplant is more than adequate for a 3200 pound car. Redline comes rather quick at just over 6k rpm and more brisk acceleration requires you to stay above 3000 rpm, shifts are relatively smooth and clutch operation is easy with a good engagement point not too far from the floor in the clutch pedal travel.

Cruising around 80 mph on the highway puts the car at about 3000 rpm, and there is what I would consider a moderate amount of engine, wind and road noise. In the last few months I have been consistently getting about 31 mpg is mostly city driving. The small amount of highway travel I have done so far has netted about 38 mpg. Fuel economy was a little lower in the frigid winter months, averaging 28-29 mpg, but I am very pleased with the fuel consumption since spring.

I have clocked over 7000 trouble free miles since I bought my 6 with no regrets, wishing only for a few goodies and options to be available with the manual transmission beyond the Touring trim standard features. But, like my father always said, “wish in one hand and sh*t in the other and see which hand fills up first”. It took me a long time to figure out what that means, and I think this crude pearl of wisdom is well suited to the compromises we all make when purchasing a vehicle. A perfect car with everything you want may not exist, but there is a vehicle that has what you need and is perfect for you.

I may be turning into my father - or perhaps finally letting go of my youth and embracing the horror of being a balding, 30 something father of three children who appreciates sensible, worry-free, reasonably priced transportation. With the new Mazda6, I get all that in addition to a nice dose of exterior styling, a chassis, suspension, transmission and engine that can bring a smile to my face and some joy to my commute. I know there are plenty of cars that can best the Mazda6 in every test that involves moving, I haven’t seen any ladies flocking to me as I pull up to the club and it is not luxurious by any stretch. But, what you get for the price of admission adds up to more than the sum of its parts and I believe the Mazda6 in general and the Touring trim in particular is a true bargain in a beautiful and fun to drive package.

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138 Comments on “Reader Review: 2014 Mazda6...”


  • avatar
    cartunez

    I love the look of these when I see them and that price seems about right. If I could get 100K and or 8 years of trouble free service out of it seems like a bargain.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      As long as you live somewhere with no road salts, you might make that mark.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        My understanding is that the rust problems were mostly resolved in the mid-2000s. I guess I’ll know in a few years.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Where I run there’s an 07-09 Mazda 3 hatch, and it’s nearly rusted through above the rear wheel wells. It’s got rust as bad as some XJ Cherokee or similar. SW Ohio with salt.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          Depends. American-made Mazdas like the 6 didn’t really rust, nor did the Tribute or CXs.

          The Japanese-built ones seem to rust quite readily. The 3 and Protege get eaten alive unless you’re fastidious with body maintenance.

          The Miata and RX-8 don’t, but that might down to ownership.

          I haven’t seen any rustbucket 5s.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I have a nearly 9 year old RX-8 purchased new, that’s been driven year round in the salt belt (on snow shoes from late Nov to April 1).

            No rust.

            I clean out the inside of the rear wheel wells with baking soda & vinegar solution using a stiff brush which removes a lot of detritus, then spray Fluid Film up in that area (while covering the brake rotors/pads) in September.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I can vouch for the Tribute–only minor surface rust in the rear fender/rocker panel on a 12-year-old car, and I’ve done very little in terms of rust prevention.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The Tribute is a Ford and was built by Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        ksmo

        We get a fair bit of salt thrown on the roads around here in the winter. I haven’t noticed Mazdas rusting any faster than anything else. Actually, full size trucks seem to be the worst around the wheel arches and cab corners. Honda Accords are seen with rust at the back of the wheel arch from time to time.

        The one Mazda I’ve seen with a small bit of rust was a Protege5. Those are at least a decade old by now, I would imagine (as are the rusty pickups and Accords).

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      2004 Mazda6 here, in CA:

      Only repair of note: had to get a fix in the gas tank emissions system (was throwing a code). 6 months later, Mazda announced they were covering that problem under emissions related warantee.

      Only failures of note: Sunroof failed closed a year ago, haven’t bothered fixing. The LCD display on the dash for radio/climate control is flakey, never bothered fixing.

      Overall, no complaints apart from its Old-gen mazda and drinks like a fish (V6, manual).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        No complaints, meaning you expect a 10 year old car to have these issues?

        • 0 avatar
          Nicholas Weaver

          I’d expect a 10 year old car to no longer be perfect. Things do break over time.

          The only other complaints I have (bought new) is I bought it about 2-3 years before every car had a line-in or USB in on stereo.

          • 0 avatar
            drewhopps

            This item is currently listed as out of stock, but provided a simple $66 auxiliary connection into the stock (non-bose) stereo on my ’04 Mazda6. http://www.sylfex.com/products/AuxMod/

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        The switch on my Tribute’s sunroof is also going out, meaning I could open it but I couldn’t be sure if it would ever close again. It’s probably a small fix, but given how much I’ve used it in my 3-1/2 years of ownership (probably half a dozen times), I’ve decided to let it be. Not like I’m concerned about resale value anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      Salt does take a toll on 3′s at least up to about 2009 They don;t show like the protege but when I was doing claims I went under a bunch on lifts and The 3′s rusted quite a bit underneath. Saw some rust on 5′s too as noted all the other mazdas seemed fine.

  • avatar
    Madroc

    I just want to say thank you. Thank you for buying a family car with a manual transmission, in the highest trim level available with a stick. My wife did the same when she bought her 2010 Outback but apparently it wasn’t enough to save the 6MT for the forthcoming generation. I drive an “enthusiast” car now but I haven’t always and probably won’t always so I need all the help I can get keeping the glimmer alive.

  • avatar
    djsyndrome

    I was *just* reading Alex’ review of the new 6 here this morning. Have lived with a Mazda2 for over two years and it’s been trouble-free, but it’s tiresome in heavy traffic and I don’t feel safe with the kids in the back. Been looking to move up to a 3 or a 6, but unsure which will be a better fit.

    I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the infotainment system in the touring, specifically that connecting an iPhone/iPod via USB results in a huge delay before playing as the songs are cataloged by the head unit (and this happens on every connection). Can you comment on this, or have you only streamed via Bluetooth?

    • 0 avatar
      reluctantcommuter

      I can confirm the delay when listening to iphone or ipod via usb. It seems the head unit slowly reads all the metadata on the device before it plays any music. In my experience that means at least a 3 minute wait for my 8gb nano or more wait than I have patience for the 30gb of music on my phone. Curiously I can plug a 4gb usb drive into the port and it will play about as quick as I can back out of my driveway. The issue with the usb drive is it starts back at the first track read in and shuffle / repeat turned off each time I start the car. Streaming over bluetooth for music is the best solution other than mp3 cd. The only noticeable difference to me is the CD plays louder at the same volume, quality wise they sound about the same.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      We have the same infotainment system in a CX-5 GT. Bluetooth is a cinch, USB is a delay-inflicting pain.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      The upgrade infotainment system in the 3 reads/plays my USB quite quickly (it has 17 GB on it). It does not stay over at the beginning each time, but it does have some quirks in still figuring out.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      We have a 2010 3. While Mazda failed to include USB on that model, there was an optional $500 ipod connector. It does have A2DP Bluetooth streaming, which I find to me more than an adequate replacement, as it is usually playing before I back out of my driveway. The only downside I see is not being able to charge while driving, which is solvable by a $3 12v USB plug.

      I have head units with USB connectors as well as Bluetooth in my other 2 cars since they’re older, and in both of those I find the bluetooth to be a superior solution to plugging in my phone via USB, unless I’m driving far enough that I feel the need to charge it.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The best looking family sedan on the road by some margin in my opinion. Aggressive without approaching gaudy, like an Optima. None of the Fusion’s slab-sidedness. Unlike an Accord, it actually looks like something other than “a car”. I don’t see nearly enough of them.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    The current Mazda 6 always seems to find me nodding my head in approval, though a friend who loves his ’13 confesses that the infotainment is his biggest issue with it. Have they made any changes between model years?

    It does seem to be the case that no sooner do three or four villagers find legitimate fault with an infotainment system, that the meme is doomed to be repeated mindlessly until the end of time by lazy reviewers, despite any changes or improvements. BMW were never forgiven for their original iDrive system and Ford’s MFT is destined to be a whipping boy until the end of time. If that’s the company your Mazda 6 is keeping, enjoy :)

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Love the lines on the Mazda6. I came ‘ ‘ <—- that close to buying a 2005 5-door with a 5-speed and 4 banger.

    One thing I was surprised to read, no auto on headlights. With more and more cars having backlit gauges and display screens, I see more and more cars rolling down the road at night with the lights off – the driver oblivious for reasons I'll never understand.

    For all the hand wringing from the safety nuts about texting and driving (which makes for great headlines but only accounts for a tiny fraction of deaths/injuries) if the safety nannies wanted to mandate SOMETHING – auto on headlights (that one could manually override at each start) would get my vote.

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      The 4th Generation Subaru Legacy and Outback are notorious for this. Have to flash at least one a week to turn their damn lights on.

      On my ’03 Matrix, it had always-on Optitron gauges but also auto-headlights, so this was never an issue.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        I suppose that you are writing this somewhere in the US of A. Because every new car in Canada has daytime running lights as a requirement.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          DRLs only make the phenomenon more common. People drive around in the dark with no tail lights or other running lights and their headlights fairly dim.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          Daytime running lights does not mean auto headlights; and that is a major, major problem. Often the driver gets in and starts the car, has the daytime running lights come on, and thus forgets to turn the headlights on; they then drive down the road with headlights but no other lights on.

          • 0 avatar
            TheyBeRollin

            Cars with DRLs should be legally required to have automatic headlights. If you include DRLs, you include automatic headlights.

            I wonder why they appeared then disappeared in the US. There are still some wandering around with DRLs (ex: My brother’s Cavalier has them), but most new cars don’t. The most common ones I see now are those LED accent lights on luxury cars and wannabe luxury cars.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Yeah, in the late ’90s, early ’00s, GM decided that all of its cars would have DRLs. People thought they were stupid, and they faded away.

            10 years later, Audi does it with LEDs. Now you can pay extra and get them on any subcompact.

            I don’t understand it.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            In 2009 IIRC (might have the year wrong) NHTSA concluded that DRLs do nothing to prevent accidents. GM lobbying channels at the time where trying to make DRLs mandatory on all new vehicles at the time, and the government said, ummmmmm…no.

            I see plenty of cars with DRLs – it certainly is not just a “GM” thing. Admittedly living at 48 degrees north on a major north-south corridor, I might be seeing a fair number of Canadian vehicles on the highways.

            The only place I’ve found DRLs useful is when driving in craggy canyon areas where you can have very bright sun transitioning into dark shadows. Driving out by Soap Lake in Washington toward Coulee is a great example of this. The driver in the bright sun can’t see the car in the shadows. The DRLs really make them stand out.

            But otherwise, without automatic headlights and backlit gauges – it’s a feckin’ mess out there with people as others have stated, driving around on DRLs only, or on the more lighted section of the highways, no lights at all (not even DRLs)

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I have to admit, I did this just the other night in a ’14 Camry leaving Charlottesville airport in Virginia. Started the car, dash lit up, headlights seemed to be on, went on my merry way. Got out of the airport where it was much darker, and realized it was only the DRL’s on. That car DOES have auto on headlights, but you have to put the switch in the right position, and it wasn’t. Lighting up the dash without the headlights being on is just plain stupid.

            I’ll add another thanks to the author for doing his part to keep the manual transmission alive.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            “Lighting up the dash without the headlights being on is just plain stupid.”

            Except for parking lamps mode.

      • 0 avatar
        fozone

        With legacies and Outbacks, you can just leave your lights on all the time — you never have to turn them off, they automatically get cut when the ignition does.

        Problem solved….

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      +1, APaGttH.

      I can’t really comment on the relative danger of texting vs this, but it is a big problem for me. I drive quite a bit between two towns on two lane roads, and do more passing than is typical. Oncoming cars with the lights off scare me the most, as my eyes are not what they used to be.

    • 0 avatar
      TheyBeRollin

      Is this in the city or the country? When I lived in a city I had many cases where I forgot my lights weren’t on due to heavy overhead lighting (this was particularly bad when I was younger). I’ve gone many miles at night in a city without realizing I didn’t have my headlights on. Here, aside from downtown, you wouldn’t be able to see without them and you’d probably notice even in downtown due to the sparse street lights.

      As a result of those earlier experiences, I made it a habit of turning on my lights every time I drive regardless of whether it’s day or night.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        Country. Night is no problem as few people forget them, but that twilight zone tends to last up to 8 pm these days, which is when I do most of my travel.

        Sounds like a substantial topic for TTAC to cover in a separate entry. I’d love to hear the merits and downsides of various policies, and how people deal with it, both in terms of forgetting/remembering to turn their own lights, as well as what they typically encounter in other drivers.

  • avatar
    Kaosaur

    You’re getting off lucky. I have to watch my head getting into the driver’s seat of my car. Then again I am driving an RX-7! :D

    That 6 is a beautiful car. I’m really interested to see what they’re doing with the infotainment for 2015. The 2 (or 3 hatchback) better fits my millennial lifestyle and budget, though I will probably be springing for the new Miata.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    It looks to me like they plan on making the screen much larger in the near future, so they had to do that big plastic surround and inset around the screen. It looks awkward.

    And heaven help you for having such a giant phone.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      On Japanese market Mazda 6′s the screen is bigger, so there is the potential to have a wider screen.

      It is possible to get navigation added to the touring by switching out the screen with the nav screen in the parts department.

      Keyless entry is standard on the Touring for 2015.

      Thanks for the review – I was especially interested to know that three kids could fit in – I have 7,5 and 5 so similar ages. Glad to know they will fit in OK.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    I test drove one of these back to back with a 2.0L Mazda3 a few months back. The 6′s infotainment system seemed ok, but I didn’t spend a lot of time with it, or try my iPod Touch with it. Bluetooth streaming worked. Same system I saw when I looked at the CX-5. Not as bad as the touchscreen nav system offered in ’13-’14 Subarus.

    The 3′s infotainment system looked slick and worked really well. The i-Drive-esque knob down by the shifter is really useful, so you don’t always have to reach for the screen. May take some getting used to, but it seemed pretty intuitive. Plus the big, high-res screen is just pretty. Yeah, it juts out of the dash and doesn’t raise/lower like it would in a luxury car, and not everybody will like that, but it does its job well. Hopefully they’re able to bring this system, or one like it, to the 6 and CX-5 at some point. Maybe a mid-cycle refresh.

    Road and wind noise was hard to gauge on the 6, as it had one of those big boxy gps boxes (or whatever they’re called) on the rear-left window. I’d guess that the reviewer’s rating of “moderate” noise at freeway speeds would be accurate. But the 2.0L Mazda3 at 75mph was uncomfortably loud. Maybe when you’re looking at the base $17k model, this is acceptable (compared to others at that price), but in a $24k Grand Touring? The similarly-price Jetta I drove that day wasn’t anywhere near that loud.

    Speaking of infotainment systems, which companies are actually doing them right, in the mid-priced sedan market?

    FYI: The same rear shot pic is used in the article text twice.

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      “Not as bad as the touchscreen nav system offered in ’13-’14 Subarus.”

      Nothing is that bad. Nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        stevelovescars

        Honda’s system is FAR worse than Mazda’s. I liked that Mazda’s system left common car-related functions separate and simple. For Honda, just changing preset radio stations and making adjustments to climate settings seemed to require an insane number of menus and buttons and often they were far too illogical in their placement.

        I really liked how Mazda’s interior seemed to simple, without all of the buttons on the Honda but with all of the same functionality.

        BTW, I found the new Mazda3 substantially quieter than the previous generation. I had a Mazda6 grand touring automatic as a test car for a week and also felt as if Mazda had made a substantial effort to quieting the ride compared to previous Mazdas.

        • 0 avatar
          Wraith

          When you drove the 3, was it the 2.0L or 2.5L? Sedan or hatch? (I wonder if the 2.5L has any additional sound dampening, or different tires.)

          The one I drove was a 2.0L Grand Touring hatch.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            My dad has a 2010 3 sedan 2.5, 6MT.with ~150k miles

            I can confirm, the sound deadening is almost non existent. Engines not loud at speed but the road noise is worse than you would expect.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Loud is relative. My 2 primary cars are an S2000 with gutted rear plastics, and a 22 year old Rodeo. Going into my wife’s 3 is silent in comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      Wraith

      Edmunds actually made a post about the 3′s road noise as part of their long term road test: http://www.edmunds.com/mazda/mazda3/2014/long-term-road-test/2014-mazda-3-road-noise.html

  • avatar
    omer333

    I test drove a 3 and a 6 with manual transmissions before I got my Dart. Had I been able to get the deal I wanted, I probably would have got the 6.

  • avatar
    John

    Karl Denninger of “The Market Ticker” blog bought the exact same car with manual transmission, and reported that adding some Dynamat dramatically reduced freeway noise. He lives in Florida, so road salt is not an issue.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Sweet ride and good for you. There needs to be greater availability of higher trim manual trans vehicles, especially when the manufacturer already offers the manual on a lower trim level.

    • 0 avatar
      SatelliteView

      This thing with MTs is similar to the whining about Windows XP going away. It’s normal and irreversible. Why the hell would someone want an MT???

      I wasn’t around when power brakes, steering, etc where “new” tech, but I can bet there were “enthusiasts” who complained about not being able to get certain options with out power brakes/steering, what-have-you.

      P.S. Old timers, was ABS also frowned upon in the old days?

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Old timer here. When power steering was introduced, it was hugely overboosted and devoid of any road feel. You could literally steer a car with your index finger. Likewise, power brakes, when introduced required you to re-learn how to brake. The problem is that drum brakes are self actuating. So, constant pedal pressure results in increasing brake engagement. The power assist amplified this effect. So, you had to push and partially release the pedal to achieve smooth stops. Given the absence of any fore-and-aft balance in those braking systems, the result of a hard braking was always rear wheel lockup, which — at speed — puts the car into a nice spin. Disc brakes solved just about everything, because they’re not self-actuating. Have driven non-power disc brakes on some British sports cars, I can tell you that a lot of pedal pressure was required, Power assist was a godsend.

        ABS was initially welcomed because, as I said, braking systems were set up so poorly and usually locked the rear wheels at speed. Fact is, ABS stops the car more quickly on wet pavement. It’s not much help on dry. And, in snow, ABS is actually worse. It should be defeatable. The proponents of ABS say that it allows the driver to steer the car (which really can’t be done in a skid). But, every winter, I see videos of modern cars (which mush have ABS) sliding down icy hills in a slow spin . . . which tells me that the wheels are locked. So, I’m wondering how that happens. I have not gone out and done my own experimentation.

        The best advantage of power steering is it allows “quicker” steering ratios than the old manual steering which was slow because of the necessary mechanical advantage built into the rack. Power assist with disc brakes is definitely an unalloyed plus all around. I’m not at all nostalgic for drum brakes, which were truly frightening.

        ABS is a real mixed blessing AFAIC. When it was first introduced, it could be defeated, which is really what should happen in snow (not ice, but snow). Locked wheels will stop the car faster in snow.

      • 0 avatar
        Snavehtrebor

        I suppose I’m an old-timer, now that I’m in my 40′s, so I’ll take this one.

        SV, shifting your own gears provides you with a better connection to what the car is actually doing. It simply feels better, and is more fun. It’s easier to transfer weight from front to back. You never have to worry about an AT holding a gear too long, or having it kick down too far when you floor the throttle.

        Aside from that, it encourages attentive driving; you simply cannot shift gears while holding your cell phone/cigarette/Big Gulp, unless you plan on running into something, or off the road. I understand that a Porsche with a PDK is faster than the same car with a manual, but I also know which owner is smiling when he gets out of the car.

        Strangely, some people seem to think that shifting your own gears means that you want flappy paddles or ridiculous +/- gates on your automatic gearshift. It’s all about the third pedal, not the shifter.

        And as a 2004 Mazda6 owner, I can say that if they offered the new car with the Grand Touring package and a manual, they would have sold me one last year.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Great review, and allow me to add to the chorus of: thank you for supporting the MT cause!

    I have a soft spot for the Mazda 6, but there are two complaints:

    1. Agreed on the road and wind noise. It’s not just apparent, it’s excessive and irritating enough to stop me from buying the car (I’m a stickler for that);

    2. Please open up the order book and make the MT available on higher trim cars!

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I was hoping they improved the road noise problem on this generation. I tested a 2012 Mazda6 right after an Altima and could tell by 30mph that the Mazda was a very loud car. Shame, great car otherwise.

      Why Honda and Mazda view road noise as a benefit in a large family sedan that is presumably purchased to take people places is beyond me. Perhaps it drowns out the sound of your kids fighting in the backseat.

  • avatar
    nutbags

    Thanks for this real life, practical and well written review. This model is on the top of my list when my GLI lease is up in 10 months for the same reasons listed; manual available with nice features at a good price point. The good driving dynamics are an added bonus. A little more power would be nice but is not necessary; I only need to merge onto a highway and cruise at 75-80 for hours on end to make me happy. Handling the curvy roads in my area would be another bonus.
    Sounds like this auto tick all of the right boxes.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    So, what is the visibility like while driving?

  • avatar
    readallover

    I still have my 2004 Mazda 6. It just keeps going and going….
    Only non- regular maintenance was a PCV hose and a motor mount – that`s it in 11 years. No Rust (pacific northwest) and no ratttles. They still make the first gen 6 in China and I`d love to get another one.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “My first choice was a Cadillac ATS 2.0 RWD 6MT”

    Wow one the 47 people in the US who are genuinely interested in this car and configuration new.

    “The tiny back seat and my three growing kids didn’t make things easier.”

    Ah, but tough break Cadillac. Your no-backseat-in-a-sedan policy alienated yet another potential buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      As mentioned before, my nearly 9 year old RX-8 has been tied as the most trouble free vehicle I’ve owned (tied with a 1994 Honda Civic EX 5 speed manual I once owned).

      When I checked out the ATS extensively, not only did it have a less refined suspension than my RX-8, but the backseat had appreciably less rear legroom than my 8.

      Both the base 2.5 N/A and 2.0T motors in the ATS were also less than refined, especially given the price of the ATS, as well, IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        My mechanic had a 04 RX-8 in the shop yesterday with 204000 miles on the original engine and they’ve NEVER had a single problem with the car.

        He also said they were the most anal person he’d ever met about regular maintenance and keeping the car clean.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I have a hypothesis about the RX-8:

          A huge % of people having mechanical difficulties with the car fail to do two things:

          1) Keep the oil at or near the full line (they essentially rarely if ever take the 3 minutes necessary to ensure their oil level is at/near the full level);

          2) They do not pay heed to maintaining the cooling system/radiator/coolant level. The Renesis is a rotary motor that uses aluminum along with other metals that are in constant contact with each other, much like the 4.6 liter Cadillac Northstar, and in such motors, lack of diligent cooling system maintenance can lead to overheating incidences which radically shorten the motor’s lifespan Bout for different reasons as the Renesis does not obviously share the head bolt design of the Northstar).

          Regarding #2, I feel more confident in my hypothesis given that the largest % of motor failures occur in automatic transmission RX-8s that only have one oil cooler (versus the 2 in the 6MT) and/or RX-8s driven in extremely hot areas of the U.S., such as AZ, NV, FLA, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            I’ve had a couple problems with mine–the starter wore out, and the info screen started to glitch.

            I don’t think those a major problems, and the powertrain hasn’t caused me any problems (but I bought it used).

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The ATS is so much fail. There are many things I like about it, but I could never own one. As Bark showed in his recent write up about his Boss Mustang, the Mustang is a better car with kids than the ATS.

        And I’m glad you’re back DW, it seems like its been awhile.

        • 0 avatar
          omer333

          But only if you’re less than six feet tall.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Thanks, bball.

          I was tied up with some major deals the past several months (including involvement in expediting the sale of a certain lifestyle mall located in Clinton Two owned by Taubman and sold to an out of state REIT).

          • 0 avatar
            zaxxon25

            DeadWeight QQ about your Fluid Film comment earlier … do you only spray it into rust-prone areas or use it more as temporary undercoating? I’ve thought about using it but heard carwash undercarriage jets can blow it off.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Is it going to keep you busy into the 4Q? That is a huge deal at over $1B. I’m happy when my business lending deals cross $1M.

            Lucky for Taubman, they got rid of Fairlane too. That mall is slowly turning into Northland or Eastland. Does Starwood even know that they purchased that dump?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            zaxxon, I only buy the cans from a local heavy equipment place for something like $8 a spray can and spray it in late summer/early fall into trouble prone areas (especially the rear wheel wells). Some others buy the gallon containers and use a compressor to spray the entire underside carriage (local public works departments and snow plow companies do this with FF or other “creeping oils”).

            I have found it does NOT wash off even with road spray or after going through many automated/pressure wand car washes, but rather leaves a smudgy film that you have to literally remove by hand in the spring, using hand washing, a surfactant and much cleaning.

            It is very similar to Known Oil Spray up in Canada but I like FF because it is completely non-toxic (it’s lanolin oil from sheep wool).

            Bball, I will be less busy now even though (IMO) dumb money still pursuing a ton of RE due to our yield-starved environment.

            Taubman sold 7 malls as part of that transaction and is focusing new projects in places such as South Korea. They are a very smart company that made some idiotic moves during the last commercial real estate bubble, have shed some of those mistakes now, but nave formed alliances with governments and municipal entities going forward (such as the airport district in South Korea where they’re building a megamall attached to the airport itself).

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Welcome back DW.

    • 0 avatar
      SatelliteView

      It’s a C-class Mercedes type of car. They do not have back seats. CTS is the one comparable to Mazda 6. 28 cars later you should know this

  • avatar
    turboprius

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum, you can get a 2015 Abarth with an automatic now.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    What ever happened to the diesel? It was supposed to come last summer, was delayed…then not a word.
    And auto headlights should be on this trim. No excuses.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Optional with the automatic.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Not in the US. The 2.5L gasoline engine is the only engine avialable right now.

        If you are talking about the headlights, I think they should be standard on this trim as well.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          I am deeply disheartened about the trend to put four-bangers in America’s mainstream vehicles.

          Having owned a used Mazda 626 in the past for my kids’ transportation for many years, I was impressed with their little V6, just like I was with Toyota’s little 2.5L V6. They were technological marvels in their day!

          Americans used to make fun of the little four-banger rice-grinder engines in foreign-brand cars. Now look at what is happening to us!? Midsize cars with little four-bangers!!!

          A V6, Flat-6, or I-6 is the smallest engine I would ever choose to buy in an SUV/CUV or midsize sedan. And a 5.7L V8 would be the smallest for a pickup truck.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            The 2.5L V6 in the old 626 made 164hp, whereas today’s I4 makes 184hp.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “I am deeply disheartened about the trend to put four-bangers in America’s mainstream vehicles”

            Considering a number of 4-cylinder midsize sedans are quicker than the V6 Accords and Camrys from the early 2000s that everyone regarded as so powerful, I fail to share your concern. Heavier CUVs are another matter, but the Altima, Accord, 6, and Camry 4-pots can all reach 60 in 7.5-8.0 seconds with auto trannys and the rest of the field isn’t far behind.

            And why are you confusing cylinder count with displacement and power? Those “rice grinder” engines were small displacement, and today’s 2.4-2.5L engines bear no resemblance in either total output or power delivery.

          • 0 avatar
            djsyndrome

            Given that the SAE rating method changed in the interim, the 626 actually made even less.

            What I miss is the MX-3′s little V6. Why I bought a 200SX SE-R over that I’ll never know.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            As most of us know, Americans drive torque, not hp. With a four-banger you need to spin the squirrels up faster than you do when power pulses are distributed over 6 cylinders to get the same amount of torque at a lower rpm.

            I admire the Germans and Japanese for their innovative engineering when it came to VVT, SOHC and DOHC four bangers, at a time when America’s finest engine in that class was the venerable pushrod iron duke.

            Two of THE finest I-4 engines during the 1980s were the BMW 318/320, and the VW/Audi 1.6. Both were contributory to the development of the I-4 engines from Toyota and Honda, and both designs were improved upon by the Japanese.

            But I’ll take the smoothness of a 6-cylinder over any four-banger any day, even with major counterbalancing. A 2.5L V6 takes the cake for me over any 2.5L four-banger any day.

            It may be the trend for OEMs to hype up four-bangers in midsize vehicles, mostly because of CAFE and EPA mandates. But that doesn’t mean we all have to play along. As far as I know, the OEMs are still selling all the V6 midsizers they can produce, and pretty much demand whatever price the market will bear.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @highdesertcat

            This is simply not a blanket statement you can make in an era where virtually every engine has variable valve timing. And it is certainly right out for anything with a turbo. Cylinder count affects smoothness a little (balance shafts make this largely moot), and the sound, but it really has not a thing to do with power output and delivery.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            krhodes1, unlike others who offer comments, I do not advocate that MY preferences and druthers are the be-all, end-all that should be accepted by everyone. Far from it!

            Those other individuals like to cite facts to support their conclusions but leave out the emotions that drive each and every one of us to buy what we choose to buy. Or, more precisely, what we can afford to buy.

            My preferences for V8 pickup trucks has been presented here often enough. I am deeply concerned that EPA and CAFE mandates may make the Tundra 5.7L V8 obsolete in the very near future, like maybe 2016.

            I hope to still be able to buy a 2015/2016 Sequoia 4X4 with that magnificent 5.7L engine to replace my wife’s 2012 Grand Cherokee.

            And when I replace my 2011 Tundra 5.7 DoubleCab, I hope to replace it with a 4-dr, 4X4 2016 Tundra Limited 5.7.

            So my views on putting four-bangers in midsizers runs along the same parallel.

            We own a 2008 Highlander Limited 4X4 V6 but I would never have bought a Highlander with a four-banger. No way! The thought alone disgusts me!

            Ditto with the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee my wife drives. It has the Pentastar 3.6 V6 in it and it is just barely adequate to haul that vehicle around.

            Not so much going up the mountain. Put a couple of people in it and that tranny is as busy as a one-armed wall-paper hanger.

            People who settle for a four-banger do so for their own reasons. No doubt!

            If they had driven the 6-cylinder version of that same vehicle, let’s say a Camry, Accord, Altima, Subaru, Highlander, Explorer or Cherokee, they would prefer the 6-cyl and buy it, IF they could afford it.

            I see this trend to smaller engines to be purely driven by the US government limiting the choices we have, through mandates. You know, raise the CAFE and the OEMs have to produce more vehicles with tiny engines in order to meet the new mandate.

            There’s no way that a four-banger can ever be as good as a 6-cylinder engine in ANY configuration, Inline, Flat, or Vee.

            Oh, they can make infinitely more hp, like a Cosworth-Vega, or a fully-blown Lotus, but those are not engines for Joe Sixpack and Sally Homemaker.

            I sure did like the 2.5L V6 engines of the Mazda 626 and Camry of yore. Smooth, economical, long-lasting, reliable and with the right balance of power to weight ratio in a compact package.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Doesn’t matter what your preferences are, or whether you somehow force them on others. From an engineering perspective you are simply wrong. If you have some sort of preference for engines with more than 4 cylinders, more power to ya, but there is no need to disparage them as being somehow lesser JUST because they have only four cylinders. Crap engines come in every cylinder count, as do fantastic engines.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            krhodes1, Maybe I should have stated that more people would choose to buy 6-cylinder engines if the mix had not been forcibly altered by government mandates.

            I can still remember how disparagingly most Americans thought of the little four-banger rice grinder engines of the past.

            Yet here we are in the America of 2014, going down the same path of reducing engine size and choices, just like the Europeans and Japanese had done decades ago.

            C’mon now. Some of the best four-bangers came out of Germany, Italy and Japan while America was still running on pushrod engines.

            We Americans chose six cylinders then over those four-bangers if given the choice in those cars; like the 328 BMW over the 318/320. Or the 2.5 V6s over the 2.0/2.4 four-bangers from Japan.

            This is driven by the government, not by buyers’demand.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Most buyers want fuel economy over power. Today’s fours produce excellent fuel economy with more than adequate power. More power than v6s had even 10 years ago. A four has less friction and is thus inherently more efficient. People bought 325is over 318is because they had 50% more power and gas was cheap. Today, the four cylinder turbo 328i will leave my inline-six 328i in the dust performance-wise while getting significantly better fuel economy in a bigger car. The price of it not sounding as nice (in a car where either way you can barely hear the engine anyway) is a very small one indeed for that sort of advantage.

            Ultimately many engineers have settled on 500cc’s per cylinder as being an ideal size. You can see this across many brand’s families of new engines – 1.5L triple, 2.0l four, 3.0l six. It makes sense to have more cylinders if you are going to have a bigger motor, but there is nothing inherently inferior about a “four-banger”. Just because you are older than dirt and remember when small cars with four cylinder engines were almost universally crap does not make it true today.

            This Mazda is an excellent example of modern tech at work – a 0-60 time about the same as an early ’80s Porsche, while the author is reporting 30mpg in the real world IN THE CITY and nearly 40 on the highway. Why would you want or need more in a mostly non-sporting family sedan, assuming you have a normal or above sized penis? ;-)

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Well, I’ve outlined my philosophy on engines and live my life accordingly. It is true that I am older than dirt, and the life experiences gathered along the way play a part in my philosophy.

            I find it noteworthy that the current Mazda6 still offers a V6, if I am not mistaken, and my guess would be that they will sell every one of them long before they sell out of all the 4-bangers.

            Buyers can fool themselves into believing that 4-cylinders are better than 6, but, all things being equal, I’ll take a V6 Mazda6 over a 4-cyl Mazda6 any day.

            Not as far-fetched actually, since my grandson in Fallbrook, CA, may have to trade in his 2010 Wrangler on a midsize sedan because of a recent addition to his family.

            My recommendation, if he asks, “Buy a Mazda6 w/automatic, even if it costs $32K.” I believe that to be the best option, for the greatest resale value in the future.

          • 0 avatar

            Sorry highdesertcat, that’s not correct. The current generation of Mazda6 dropped the V6 option because it simply wasn’t popular. The largest and only engine available in the 2.5 4-cylinder you see in this review.

            Without exception, the larger engines are routinely much much much less popular than the 4-cylinders, simply because they aren’t necessary. In today’s world, there’s nothing that our 4-cylinders can’t accomplish in a smooth, refined way on an on-ramp that the V6s can. What different does it make if you have 180 or 260 horsepower if you are stuck lumbering along at 15mph in traffic? This is the (logical) reasoning of most people.

            There there’s this: In family sedans, 4-cylinders often provide better dynamics. While V6 engines are getting lighter, the balance and handling are often more pleasant in the 4-cylinder due to the weight difference. I know this to be the case in fairly recent Accords, for example.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “Well, I’ve outlined my philosophy on engines and live my life accordingly”

            Yes, it’s called being stubborn as a mule.

            The base four-cylinder engines you feel are being foisted on us in midsize sedans perform as well or better than the optional V6s of 15 years ago. Today’s V6 and turbo-4 midsize sedans blow those old V6s out of the water.

            Maybe I’m too young of a whippersnapper to properly remember the blazing glory of the 156hp 2.5 liter 1991 Camry V6 or the 3.0 liter Ford Vulcan, but I can read a spec sheet well enough to know that the current 2.5 liter 178 hp Camry 4 cylinder will absolutely destroy the old one in every acceleration and fuel economy metric you can throw at it.

            There’s no need to panic. Today’s midsize sedans have never performed better and unlike in the past, Americans are now completely spoiled for choice.

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            @highdesertcat

            22% of Camry buyers take the V6. 15-20% of Accord buyers take the V6. Hyundai, Kia, Ford and Mazda don’t even offer a V6 in their midsizers. I’d say the market has spoken and the V6 lost as a mainstream choice, just like manual transmissions or any of the other options favored by folks who like to drive as opposed to folks who want a car to get them where they’re going with a minimum of fuss.

            The good news is, there still are cars catering to people who want a V6 (Accord), or a well-optioned manual (Mazda), or whatever else you’re looking for. Unless it’s a RWD brown diesel wagon with a stick, of course.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            “Without exception, the larger engines are routinely much much much less popular than the 4-cylinders, simply because they aren’t necessary.”

            They weren’t necessary 10 or 15 years ago when most people took the good engine, either, luxury is never necessary. Now average transaction prices are higher than they’ve ever been, the smallest shitboxes are offered with heated suede lined cupholders, but we don’t want luxury under the hood? Bull. The death of the up motor isn’t a customer choice, it’s federal meddling preventing manufacturers from offering them to us anymore.

            First, fed mileage testing is still done on the slow treadmill that drastically overstates the benefit of small motors and transmission tricks, especially on their 48 mph “highway” which is the number that goes in advertising. Compare EPA stickers to CR testing on actual roads for otherwise identical cars with different powertrains.

            Second, they’ve moved the CAFE goalposts so far and so fast that manufacturers are no longer permitted to sell a high mix of good motors. 10 years ago, getting the six instead of the four was a $1000 upcharge and available on every trim. Today it’s $2-3,000 in and of itself and typically requires $5-10,000 in high markup filler to even see the option. Offering it in volume trims to the working slob class would mean too many sales.

            That short line of buyers at the counter for a $31,000 V6 Accord isn’t the V6. It’s the $31,000.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Thank you one and all for your input to this specific thread. My son and grandson have both been reading along, and collectively we have decided on a course of action.

            While I was discussing in the context of the 2014 Mazda6, of which there were still a few V6 versions available, the 2015 Mazda6 does come in only the 4-cyl flavor. For us not a contender.

            We came to the conclusion that a 2014 Accord V6/automatic in any trim is the first choice, and a 2014.5 Camry V6 in any trim was the alternate.
            There are still a few of both of these left in San Diego County.

            Since now is the time to buy left-over 2014 models because of the high discounts, if my grandson is unable to close, the choices will be applied to the same 2015 models, albeit at substantially higher prices.

            If that turns out to be the case, his Wrangler and $10K cash money may not go the distance, and his dad and I will have to pitch in.

            Thanks again for all the discussion.

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            Based on Baruth’s experience, and every single other review I’ve ever read of the Accord, I doubt you, your son or grandson will be disappointed. We’re living in pretty much a golden age of television dramas and midsize sedans.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Astigmatism, we pretty much think the same. You just can’t go wrong buying an Accord or Camry, and the bigger the end-of-model-year discount, the better.

            My grandson is just getting started in real life, got out of the Marines June 2013, so at age 25 he hasn’t got a lot of margin for financial error.

            At least he is asking for input from his dad and granddad, rather than blindly blundering about on the second biggest purchase in his life.

            We should know more tonight. He’ll be shopping Oceanside, CA, after he gets off work at 4:30 Pacific time. His wife’ shift ends at 3pm, so they should still have some time to shop before it gets too late.

    • 0 avatar
      3800FAN

      Unnoicially discontinued. The gas 2.5 is so good the diesel would never be worth the extra cost.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      They keep mentioning it, but it’s delayed due to emissions. They have to suck too much performance from it to pass, and they aren’t willing to do that. However, they will get it out before a year from now (test fleet writers have confirmed they’ll get one), and if it needs the urea treatment system to get it done, they’ll do it (albeit Skyactiv was supposed to obsolete that tech).

  • avatar
    Loser

    Nice review. The new 6 always catches my eye and my wife even comments every time she sees one. I looked at these a few months ago and could not get into the drivers seat without my butt hitting the door frame, I’m only 6ft and 170 pounds . My wife will be replacing her 4Runner soon and this car is on her list.
    Thanks for taking the time to write this review.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I think the author’s correct – the 6 Touring is the sweet spot in that line up. I would have picked the same car, in Deep Crystal Blue.

    I just realized recently that the Touring with the automatic has additional option packages that aren’t available with the manual. One offers a moonroof and upgraded speakers, the other is the “tech” package that includes the auto-on headlights the author’s looking for.

    Also, I’m surprised that they only gave the 1-touch window to the driver. I have two Mazdas, same year. The 3 only has that option for the driver, the Miata has it for both windows. I always find myself waiting to roll down the passenger window in the 3 after 1-touching the driver’s side. Just kind of irritates me.

  • avatar
    mikedt

    I have a Miata now and as much as I like it and the convertible aspect, it doesn’t/can’t be used as much as I fantasized. But it’s been a gateway drug to the Mazda lineup (5 VWs before that) and I’m very tempted by the 6 with a manual. Too bad they didn’t bring in the wagon. It’s gorgeous and even more tempting.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      OH, man! I was also thinking about the wagon. I dunno, but the wagon has to be one of the most beautiful cars I have seen in recent times.
      How damn ridiculous we don’t get a chance to own one.
      I was soooo looking forward to a diesel wagon a year ago and still no chance of seeing th car!
      And as far as the comments of the auto headlights not being part of the touring JUST because it is stick is rediculous.
      Touring is touring.
      It should be available…the entire tech package with it should be there.
      Bring on the wagon, Mazda. You would be a hero company.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Are you saying that he’d have auto headlights if he had an automatic? That *is* ridiculous. I’m sure the entire system is modular. Mid-sized sedans should have automatic headlamps as standard equipment, and *definitely* should once you upgrade from the base model.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Thanks for the kind word on the review guys. I am the author. My write up got cut up a bit as it was pretty wordy. I included a little info about Cadillac shopping and how I cut the Fusion 1.6 and accord sport from my shopping list. Derek kept almost all of the substantive Mazda6 stuff though. I did put a note about some brake fade in heavy stop and go 70-0 highway traffic, and also criticized the stock tires wishing for a little more grip. Traction control on dry pavement seems non existant, easy to induce wheel spin. Most of the highway noise is wind and tires, engine is not an issue IMO.

    I’ve never tried the USB, always bluetooth so I guess that may be why I never had any issues with infotainment. Not sure why you would need USB vs bluetooth?? To address a few questions, visibility is pretty food all around, rear is a bit lacking, but generally non issue for me. The three kids is possible, did a 2 hour round trip to Ohio, but not advisable, it’s tight when boosters are tossed in. My wife has 3 rows so we would normally take that.

    Sorry about picture quality, they looked better on my phone I swear.

    I just picked up a 2014 Buick Enclave for the wife who came out of a minivan lease, was going to do review of that perhaps as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      This was a great review, and I’d look forward to hearing your thoughts on the Encore.

      The USB is mainly an issue when my phone runs out of juice and I use the USB to charge it while playing music. It is an unfortunate PITA – I’d prefer to have it run power off the USB and audio off of Bluetooth, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Does the USB connection offer enough juice to charge the phone if you are using the screen for navigation?

        I’ve had an aftermarket head unit where USB couldn’t keep up with the energy demands of the phone with the screen on, and barely charged it with the screen off. I think this head unit only offered 5V,0.8A, compared to 5V, 1.2A on the travel adapter that comes with the phone.

        In other words, if you are worried about charging, an adapter with an appropriate power output is probably better than the USB on the head unit anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      360joules

      I thought this was a very balanced review from someone who is not a journasuar. If your car really weighs only 3,200 pounds, no wonder other reviewers have complained about road noise since a Chevy Cruse weighs 3080 pounds. Although the bigger rims on a Grand Touring trim may be more aesthetically pleasing, you’ll be punished less on your next set of tires. Thanks for sharing!

    • 0 avatar
      omer333

      What was your problem with the Accord Sport? Only two colors available with the manual transmission?

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    nice review. is that 38 mpg highway figure at 80 mph or something slower? what sort of mpg did you see at 80?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice review. Mazda 6 is certainly a very aesthetically pleasing sedan, probably the best in segment in that regard.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I concur. I would rate the Optima in second place and the 200 in third. I would put the Fusion higher on the list, but its stubby, alien-eyed rear end ruins the whole look for me…

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    I test drove the 6 Grand Touring a few weeks back and walked away dissapointed. Contrary to every review I’ve read I did not find it engaging or “fun to drive”. The motor is weak and clanky loud running out of juice and shifting just when you expect a 4 banger to take off, the tires are wayyy too big and wide for the car and lead to excessive road noise and ride compromise. The steering was lighter than my grand marquis (but it was responsive). The trunk is shallow..then I sit in the 3 and the front seat compartment is the exact same size and almost all the same interior parts…the 6 really just feels like a high level 3 trim line. Why get the 6 when the 3 is almost the same car for thousands less?

    I then test drove a 2013 Sonata… MUCH more power, better ride, better handling, better interior…. No comparison. Sorry Mazda. By making the new 6 based on the new 3 platform you made a GM mistake with the 6 ie…making your cars too similar to the point where they cannibalize each other.

    Almost all 6 reviews out there all reak of hype….when all reviews are awesome for a car few people buy it says something…

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The 6 has >100 cu ft of space and the 3 has around 95 cu ft. The 6 is appreciably larger inside. As the reviewer said a 6 footer could sit comfortably behind a 6 foot driver.
      Also like to like the price difference is around $2K

  • avatar
    Carzzi

    “185 torques”. Sheesh, what is this, Jalopnik? I kid, I kid. It’s a much more wieldy term than “lb.ft”, which some erroneously denote as “lb-ft”, or, more egregiously, “lb/ft”.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    So you haven’t got navigation, a sunroof or HID headlamps, but you do have convincing vinyl upholstery, very tasteful wheels, dual-zone climate controls, blind-spot monitoring, a backup camera, fog-lamps that some manufacturers (*cough* *cough* Volkswagen) reserve only for top trims…and by far the best styling to grace any mid-sized sedan in recent history.

    Eh, I could totally make that work. Of course I’m far too lazy to get a manual transmission in a daily-driver…

    The only thing that would piss me off is the fact that Mazda still has the “NAV” buttons for cars that don’t have such a system, and which probably cannot be retrofitted with it. How much could it have cost them even to just put blank bezels in those spots? Seriously? And what’s more, Mazda’s system is actually worst-in-class, or at least tied with Volkswagen’s dreadful RNS-315/RCD-510/RNS-510 systems. Mazda should feel blessed that it has an opportunity to use CarPlay…

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      You can add the NAV. You buy from the parts department for $500 the NAV equipped head unit and then have them swap out the two units.
      The Touring is a pretty good spec, I personally don`t like a sunroof so that is not a loss to me.

  • avatar
    danman75

    That’s a great looking car! My neighbor just bought one. I initially confused it for an Infiniti q50 (another looker in my opinion).

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Nice to see Mazda still carrying the torch, to a point. Still are forced to make compromises to get a 6-speed. The Accord Sport is just an LX stripper with big wheels and dual exhausts. Would have impressed me more if it were based on the EX instead. At least it exists… for now…

    There will be no 6MT Fusion after 2014. Put that on the extinct list with the Altima, Maxima, Camry (not that anyone cared about a Camry), Sonata, Optima… This is a tough segment for manuals.

    I just got a 2007 Altima sedan 3.5 6-speed, and minus the rattles (which I’m working on), it’s a total blast to drive. Screw 4-cylinders, I’ll drive old V6′s until I can’t get em anymore.

    The 6 is a nice car and the most beautiful sedan on the market. I loved it when I test drove.. then looked in the window of a GT at all the stuff I could NOT get, and said to myself, “screw this.”

  • avatar

    Excellent review on an underrated vehicle!

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    What is it with road noise in today’s sedans? It was so bad in my Mazda that I didn’t buy another Mazda. It’s bad enough in the rear seat of the previous-generation Fusion to make a child cranky—and shockingly, not one bit better in the Lincoln MKZ version of that car.


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