By on September 8, 2008

Back in 1987, Mazda wanted a big piece of America’s midsize pie. So the Zoom Zoom brand requisitioned an idle plant from the Ford empire. For two decades, even with heavy fleet sales, Mazda’s family sedan struggled to utilize a quarter of the plant’s capacity. Ford re-assumed managerial responsibility in the early 1990s. A few years ago, The Blue Oval Boyz moved Mustang production into the Flat Rock factory to take up some of the slack. For 2009, Mazda’s totally redesigned the Mazda6. Will the new car finally fill Flat Rock?

To that end, the previous gen Mazda6’s handsome but thoroughly forgettable shape has been replaced by a roofline that sweeps kink-free from the front fenders to the rear deck, and fenders that bulge upward and outward like those of the RX-8. It’s a sexy little thing, but there are plenty of aesthetic nits to pick.

As in many front-drive sedans, excessive front overhang spoils the proportions (Mazda’s photos favor the rear quarter view). The largest wheels accompanying the four cylinder engine—17” shoes—fail to fill the muscular fenders. Still, the new Mazda6 wears the segment’s swoopiest sheetmetal, without appearing bizarre.

Aside from a steering wheel’s homage to Wall-E’s EVA, the 6’s interior styling is less distinctive, less dramatic than its exterior. The materials are a step up, the ergonomics are excellent, and the electroluminescent instruments’ blue and red lighting (with black and silver graphics) provides Zoom with a view.

Mazda has finally caved to the American taste for space; the new Mazda6 all but matches the supersized Accord’s dimensions. But the coupe-ike roof exacts a penalty: merely adequate thigh support and limited headroom in back. If you seek rear seat comfort– or a driver’s seat with generous lateral support– shop elsewhere.

Those fearful of sliding about should consider the Touring trim level. The package offers attractive cloth center panels in the leather seats rather than the Grand Touring’s full leather. Cargo carriers will appreciate the roomy expandable trunk and its non-intrusive hinges, if not its modestly-sized opening.

The Maxda6’s features are generally in line with the competition. You can get voice-activated nav, Bluetooth and basic power adjustments for the front passenger seat— but not cushy armrests on the doors or air vents for rear seat passengers. The most curious omission: no shift buttons on the steering wheel with the automatic.

The 6’s four receives a bump from 2.3 to 2.5-liters, and now kicks out 170 horsepower. With the five-speed automatic, the four’s acceleration is adequate but uninspiring; curb weight is over 3,300 pounds, after all. With the fluid yet crisp-shifting medium-throw stick, there’s a bit more pep, but still few thrills. The engine revs smoothly to the redline, but its refinement cuts both ways. Like the old 2.3 it never seems to come on cam.

[Performance-minded Mazda buyers will choose the 6’s new 272-horsepower 3.7-liter V6— providing they can live with class-trailing 17/25 EPA ratings. FYI: The 375-horsepower Hyundai Genesis V8 offers similar efficiency Manual cog swappers also note: the ’09 six is autobox only.]

The Mazda6’s handling story is similarly uneventful—much the same as the old Mazda6. As before, the steering is light, precise and nicely weighted, with a modicum of feedback. Like most Mazdas, this one has a thinly padded steering wheel rim that asks to be guided delicately with the fingertips, rather than aggressively with the palms.

In conjunction with excellent forward visibility, the 6’s steering disguises much of the new car’s additional size and weight. In turns, roll and understeer are present but not excessive, and the overall feel is tight and precise. As before, credit goes to double wishbones up front and multiple links in back. Grip is decent, but would be better with the wider, higher-performance (but harsher riding) treads that attend the V6.

Aside from the slightly busy ride and attendant tire noise, what’s not to like? Not much. On the other hand, what’s to love? The Mazda6’s steering and handling are competent, but not engaging. Some competitors are more overtly sporty. Perhaps the Mazda’s chassis possesses a subtle excellence that requires extended exposure to fully appreciate? We’ll find out when Berkowitz spends a few days in a V6 Mazda6 later this month.

Meanwhile, brand-faithful corner carvers will want a sportier driving experience— which means there’s plenty of room for a new MazdaSpeed6. Mazda’s goal with the regular Mazda6 is to steal buyers away from Honda and Toyota. The new Mazda6 finally matches the leaders in terms of interior space and horsepower, and tops them with more dramatic styling.

That could well be enough to gain on the America’s midsize sales monsters. With its fifth attempt, even as Mustang sales decline, Mazda might finally fill Flat Rock.

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82 Comments on “2009 Mazda6 Review...”

  • avatar

    I drove one last week. It won’t be in my garage. It is too big, too heavy, and the cloth interior looks like something out of the sixties. A Buick at best.

  • avatar

    An excellent review. But I wonder: does it beat the Accord or not, all things considered?

  • avatar

    Thanks, limmin.

    I wanted to go drive an Accord again, to refresh my memory of that car, but haven’t had time. Relying on a year-old memory, the Accord feels roomier inside (though the tape measure says only the headroom is significantly better) and its chassis feels more firmly damped in the German idiom. In comparison the Mazda feels lighter, with higher frequency ride motions, and more Japanese. Which is better? I remember being more impressed by the Accord, but maybe my expectations were lower.

    The main card the Mazda has to play is styling. Want a BMW copy or something swoopier and more original?

    As always, I’m hoping for an early reliability result for the Mazda6. All depends on how quickly people buy them then sign up to participate in the surveys.

  • avatar

    Limmin brings up an interesting question. The way I think about it, the Accord, 6, Altima, Camry, Malibu/Aura and Fusion/etc. are all competent vehicles. And they all are very similar. Choice of 2.5L I-4 or ~3.5L V-6; similar trim levels and equipment options; even similar levels of reliability, I think.

    The question in my mind is which of these vehicles is more appropriate to the individual buyer. For example, when I was looking 5 years ago, I liked the Passat and Altima, and was really tempted by the 6. But I bought the Accord because the combination of economy, reliability, rear seat room and driving fun hit the right balance for me.

    Michael has written a good review. I hope the comments today are more about what in particular makes a specific midsize sedan right for you and your needs, rather than the usual “Camry sucks/Accord is ugly” conversations you see elsewhere.

  • avatar

    Oddly, I’m still waiting for someone to offer a car in this segment that I really enjoy driving. None manage to be as sporty as the old Acura TL (new one as well?) or the new Maxima. Does it really cost extra to make a car engaging to drive?

  • avatar


    I had the same underwhelming experience when I test drove both cars a few weeks back.

    The 4 was better balanced with better mpg…but loud and slow at start up.
    And the six had really stupid mpg for the unexciting performance.

    True…THE most beautiful looking low end mid sized car, but it needs to pick it up a little to get all the passion juices running.

    The car(s) were fun to drive, however.
    I might be alone here, but they still blow away the others for fun.

    Now a Mazdapeed6 is what’s missing here.

  • avatar


    One more question…

    What did you think of the 4’s power at take off when compared to the Accord?
    See, I always thought Honda had the very best 4, Mazda the best feel.
    When I drove the new 6, I thought the complaining sound would wear on me after a few hundred red lights.
    You memory still have this?

  • avatar

    Interesting engine choice. Maybe I’ve been around VW/Audi too long, but why don’t they make the base engine the 2.3t instead of a 2.5?

    Tune it down to 210-220 hp and offer class-leading four-banger performance and ~30mpg highway, then you still have another 60hp premium on the V6.

    I just fail to see how this car fits “Zoom Zoom” vs. falling in with the rest of the midsize crowd. I have high hopes for Mazda, so I’ll withhold judgment until I drive this one. In other news, I’d love to see the Mazda5 get the engine upgrade, too.

  • avatar

    Michael, You pose an interesting question. However, based on consumer preferences, I find it difficult to see how the automakers would benefit from building a car in this segment that is engaging and fun to drive. What is everyone buying? Accords and Camry, and neither of them are very engaging. So when the average consumer (aka. no on reading this site) goes car shopping, and they would test either of these cars, they get something that is easy to drive (read: boring). But if there was a car that demanded you attention when driving, the average consumer wouldn’t want it, it would simply be too much work. So that means the automaker would be spending money to build an engaging family sedan, only to have it turn into a niche product. And those don’t make you money.

  • avatar

    Why does the 3.7 get such poor performance with both its MPG and its power?
    I expected so much more.

  • avatar

    My memory isn’t good enough to remember the Accord 4’s acceleration. I do think the Honda engine has a more thrilling top end (this being quite relative) but low down? I will say that in my experience Mazda and Ford engines don’t feel as strong at lower RPM as many competitors do.

    I did briefly drive the Mazda V6. It certainly doesn’t have the grunt off the line some others do, despite the class-leading peak figures. It comes on cam up around 5,000. So if you don’t really push it, it doesn’t feel as strong as the specs suggest it should. I suspect this is why it underwhelmed you, ppellico.

  • avatar

    Michael Karesh

    Interesting…got me thinking that maybe instead of just listing peak hp/tq numbers, manufacturers should also publish “hp/tq at 3,000 RPM” figures to appeal to where people actually drive the car most of the time. That speaks volumes without even having to drive the car personally.

  • avatar

    The rear looks like an Accord and with Acura muffler RL Type.Hey if you are Mazda lover why not but still consumer need a refine car not another car that looks any other car.

    I am just tired of eating checharonis on my rice and beans.

  • avatar

    My needs are simple – fast, and a manual. Altima V6 is the only one that does both. The fact that I can get 29mpg hwy doesn’t hurt either.

  • avatar

    Honda needs to hire some Mazda designers pronto. This thing looks great in photos and even better in person. It shows up the Accord for the brick-on-wheels that it is.

    Too bad, though, that Mazda is drinking the same “bigger and softer is better” Kool-Aid that the good people at Honda are chugging non-stop. A big raspberry also for not offering a stick with the V6. And what the heck is up with the awful fuel economy?

    Is it any surprise that two of the sportier sedans out of Japan of late – the Altima and new Maxima – are actually SMALLER than the models they replace. Thank heavens Nissan said “No thank you.” to the “Would you like to supersize that?” question.

    I’d be tickled if they came out with a Mazdaspeed version of this sedan, but I kind of doubt they will.

  • avatar

    I hear you. Pity Mazda dropped the manual in its V6, as well as the more useful body styles. I think Altima is the only midsized with a V6 manual right now.

    For whatever reason, the other foreign automakers treat the manual as the choice for pennypinchers (i.e. those who can’t afford an auto) as opposed to the choice for people who like driving. Of course, the domestics don’t even bother offering a stick.

  • avatar

    While it’s a good looking car. Mazda tried to cater to too many consumer types. There is nothing wrong with being a niche player in this segment and offering an enthusiast-minded FWD sedan to people…you’ll sell in smaller numbers but you’ll get repeat buyers.

    How did the car perform at full-tilt? I’ve noticed with some Mazda products that around the city, the steering is tight but the electro-hydraulic system feels a little overboosted…however, at higher speeds it is spot-on in how nicely weighted it is and points exactly where you want. Same with the suspension, it tends to smoothen out at higher speeds or in aggressive driving.

    I’d like to see this compared to the Altima, as I feel the 6 and Altima are probably cut from the same cloth… which should not be the same as the Accord and Camry.

    Seems like another new FoMoCo product with plenty of potential but still a lack of attention paid to the details…which is where it really matters.

    Let’s hope the upcoming 3 replacement will succeed in a way that the new 6 hasn’t.

  • avatar
    ex gm guy

    I have been in that Flat Rock plant. It started out life as the Ford Michigan Casting Center. Scariest place I have ever been, with buckets of molten cast iron driven around on overhead tracks by crazy men.

  • avatar


    Ford has developed a turbo version of the V6. I fully expect that engine to power a new MazdaSpeed6.

  • avatar

    The V6 in the new Mazda6 does get a bit worse fuel economy than the Camry or the Accord, but it also has (slightly) higher horsepower numbers than either of them, and (more importantly) a noticeable chunk of extra torque. The engine (basically the same as in the CX-9 with a few modifications and the Lincoln MKS) is smooth and powerful, and is definately the one to have over the I4.

    Driving the car around the interior is roomy yet cozy, enough space to be comfortable but not so much that you feel you are in a big car. The car also feels smaller than it is driving around, and has an extremely tight turning radius.

    I’ve only had a chance to play around with a loaded V6 Grand Touring model, so I can’t comment on the cloth or interior of the base models, but in GT trim it is very nice, and the Bose sound system is one of the best I have heard in a car in this price range.

    Midsize sedans are more or less appliances, and Mazda did make some concessions to that with the new 6. However with sportier handling and more power than the Accord or Camry instead of just making a clone, at least some of the core essense of the brand is left for those who don’t want to completely surrender to mainstream sedan boredom (after all, the Camry is becoming the new minivan).

  • avatar

    Darn…the European market got cheated.

    We get exactly the same car with an uglier rear.

    Or is it just the pictures?

    Anyway, at least we still get the Wagon…

  • avatar

    Michael Karesh and others…
    I know it is still my favorite mid size, but I was so hoping for the extra bit to make it my perfect car.
    I mean, it always had that sporty feel and driver’s feel, but was always underpowered.
    The Mazda3 has the zoom zoom…but the 6 never quite did. It had the feel, but never the get up an go.

    Your remark about Mazda and Ford engines being better performers higher up doesn’t make sense.
    Most of us regular (pretend) performance guys never really push cars the way you and others do.
    But we want to feel like we are in a performance car in the everyday driving we do.
    So how our cars perform leaving a red light or maneuvering around urban and suburban streets is what we truly need.

    This is the only fun we have in our cars, really.

  • avatar

    Many of you are missing entirely an important point.

    Since the Mazda 6 is made in the same factory as the Mustang it suffers guilt by association.

    If you store food in the fridge with an onion, eventually everything will stink.

  • avatar

    A Bose stereo is never a good stereo. Mazda or Mercedes. Car or home.

  • avatar

    Interestingly enough, in the Edmunds Comparo just posted, the Mazda6 bests the Accord and Altima in observed fuel economy and also bests them in every performance criteria. All were V6 models.

    Mazda6 V6 20mpg
    Accord V6 18mpg
    Altima V6 17mpg

    Not bad. I could see the new Mazda6 making its way into my garage.

  • avatar

    Never knew about the FORD engine on a Mazda.

    The weird part is that lots of people don’t like Ford except me.

    They buy a car that has a ford engine like Mazda an then bad mouth the former or never bought Ford.

    I bet majority of MAZDA lovers don’t know that Ford has a contribution on their Mazda’s.

    That would be suprise for all Mazda fanatic out there.

    Bose stereo is not bad at all. I rather use Bose stereo than Audiovox

    I thought Bose is made in Germany?
    So, it should be a great product.

  • avatar

    One of the reasons I buy Mazda is because they’re owned by Ford. Had many (Great!) Fords in the family. Alot of Mazda owners are aware of the Ford connection, it’s all over the car.

    Bose is American, probably made in China now.
    The speaker cones are thin paper and most of the systems are 2-ohm, so the amp is not a high-wattage.

    The factory Ford stereo in my 2004 Explorer sounded a bit better than the Bose in my Mazda and in my parent’s 2002 E430 (and the previous 1998 E50).

  • avatar

    Well, for some reason the edit function isn’t working. I guess my point was: it’s not worth spending the extra money for the system…as it’s not better than the factory stereo. And with the money saved, you could always buy some better speakers for under $100/pair.

    But then you’d have to forgo the sunroof.

    (now the edit function is working)

  • avatar

    Mazda is easily my favorite Japanese automaker.

    Pretty much all of their products actually excude their “zoom-zoom” affordable and fun performance ideology and act as something a little more than just a four-wheeled appliance.

    Still, I wish our version of the 6 looked as good as the one sold abroad.

  • avatar

    Seriously BEAT, I doubt you could find a mazda enthusiast who doesn’t know about Ford’s controlling interest.

  • avatar


    Seriously some people just buy a car that they like and no nothing about the history of that car and one of them is my mother or me.

    It is the marketing aspect of how you can just buy a car and no nothing about it’s history or who made the engine etc etc.

    Ask someone now if you don’t believe me?

    Do you see a Ford emblem in a Mazda or see a sign that was made by Ford and use on a Mazda. Or Zoom Zoom commercial and suddenly at the end of the commercial. This message was approved by the Ford Company. No? right

    That’s what I am talking about.

    As for buying a Japanese car They are all the same for me. They handle almost the same after owning Mazda, Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

    You just have to buy the car the will last forever and that is the Toyota.

    An like the American cars they have different handling and performance

    I did my research not even Wikipedia mentioned the FORD with Mazda.

    Can you guys tell the truth to avoid for the consumer to be confuse.

    After mentioning that the engine of the Ford will be in the Mazda.

    I wonder if the consumer will still buy Mazdas? tsk tsk tsk

    I hope they put the engine of a Mustang on a Mazda that would be rice rocket there.

  • avatar

    Michael – thanks for the heads-up on the turbo V6 – most encouraging. But I hope thay are also developing AWD for this platform.

    Blowing on 3.7l of displacement sounds like a recipe for gobs of hp and torque, and if it’s all going to the front wheels, that sounds like a recipe for enough torque steer to twist this thing into a pretzel.

  • avatar

    BEAT, my Mazda has several Ford labels on it, they’re on parts you can see in the engine compartment and under the car.

    However, there are many consumers who don’t even bother to look around their car and will not see those Ford labels. However, enthusiasts and magazines have pointed out the shared parts and 33% ownership that Ford has in Mazda.

    We can go one step further with the Mazda6 and tell the consumer that the new 6 is based on a revised platform of the old 6. Which is what Ford based the Fusion (and it’s triplets) on. Unfortunately this isn’t a Ford and Volvo shared platform like the Mazda3.

    But yes, much of the marketing does try to seperate the two brands.

    Jeager- I’m sure the Mazdaspeed6 will have a version of Ford’s touted EcoBoost V6…but maybe with some different naming. This platform is AWD capable, as the platform currently has (and had) AWD models.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the Edmunds info.
    I hadn’t gotten there today yet.

    See, this is the kind of stuff that drives me nuts!

    So what’s with the EPA?
    Who the hell CAN we trust for our basic numbers.
    We all know that its very dependant upon the way we each drive, but can’t we all just agree on the basics?
    Are the EPA numbers that questionable?
    Do they float that much, depending upon who you are?

    I am just waiting for somebody who has purchased the new VW TDI Jetta to tell us what they are getting compared to what the EPA lists.

    IF the Mazda does this well when compared to real worl Honda and Nissan, then it does indeed belong on my list.

  • avatar


    Where did you get that info on a turbo?
    I scanned these replies and cannot find it.
    Is this in referrence to a speed6?

    Also, folks…let’s get over this anti Ford thing.
    They and Mazda have done very well together.
    The outlook of Ford in the next 2 years looks wonderful and exciting.

    As for as the Bose discussion, I am so busy enjoying the car and drive, I hardly ever even use the sound system anymore.

  • avatar

    Thanks Texn for info I didn’t know that. because I don’t drive the new Mazda 3 or 6.

    I don’t care about the Ford on the Mazda because I respect Ford and I’m just not use to see or hear a Ford on a Japanese car.
    Unlike the Mitsubishi all their parts I think are Mitsubishi.


    Mazda dealers never or rarely mention that Mazda have Ford parts?

    I just asked 5 people right now if they know about their Mazda have Fords parts?

    To their suprise their eyes got bigger. They all said no and they all drives Mazda 3

    I wonder if BMW used a Mercedez tranny or Ferrari used a Lamborghini engine. That would be funny?

    You are relying on salesperson to tell you more about a Car?
    I rather rely on my 75 yr old grandfather who used to be a Mechanic for Ford.

    There is nothing funny about a Japanese car using an American parts.
    Someone who is buying a Japanese car that expect all parts are made in Japan not made in USA.

    That’s my point.

    Next time buy a Honda ask the the dealer if the Honda has Mercury parts on it.

    Look at Acura CXS comments people don’t like it because the body is from a Honda Civic. They are both the same company same parts and the country they came from and still people complaint about the CXS.

    Do you think Ford and Mazda combine parts no one will complain about it? that would be weird not FUNNY

    or should I say there are just too many Mazda lovers in TTAC than Acura.

  • avatar

    Holy Moses, people!
    Mazda never mentions it uses Ford parts?
    That’s misleading the consumer?
    You’re kidding, right?

    Do you have any idea how many parts are shared between brands?
    Even brands not related?

    If a sales person had to list this with every consumer conversation, a car would never be sold?

    This funny.

  • avatar

    gamper, ppellico, I don’t know what Edmunds’ drive cycle is like, but that kind of mileage in an Altima in a mixed-cycle is horrible. Let me be frank, I beat the snot out of my car, and I average 24. Oh, and it’s an SE-R, and it runs on mid-grade with no detriment. If I spend a weekend driving nothing but “city” roads, I get about 20. I can’t imagine how I’d get it down to 17, maybe fill the trunk with cement? My window sticker said 20/28, so if I average 24 and get 29hwy, I guess I’m at what the sticker says. And I was at what the sticker said for my GTi, and my Mustang…

  • avatar

    “Oddly, I’m still waiting for someone to offer a car in this segment that I really enjoy driving. None manage to be as sporty as the old Acura TL (new one as well?) or the new Maxima. Does it really cost extra to make a car engaging to drive?”

    Is it really not as sporty as the TL? I’ve always thought the TL wasn’t a sporty driving car.
    You may have to blame the buying public or marketers for the lack of low cost sporty mid size sedans.
    The previous 6 was always considered by reviewers as the sportiest of the bunch but it was largely ignored by buyers.
    You may have to blame US safety regs for the excessive overhangs beyond the front wheels. I’ve noticed that European only cars very often have short front ends
    How does the 6 compare to the 3?

  • avatar

    PPELLICO you said

    Do you have any idea how many parts are shared between brands?

    Sony is using the HDTV Flat panel screen by Panasonic but Sony cost more than the Panasonic. Is that alright with you?

    gimmeamanual: I believe you because I drove a Nissan before they are good in gas your numbers are right. SE-R love those but I already graduated from Nissan,Honda and Mazda.

    I am concentrating more on a Mitsubishi for now and my next car is an Acura.

  • avatar

    The Mazda6 lost some of it’s Zoom Zoom in this
    production model, and yes it was to broaden it’s
    consumer base, and gobble up some competitor business,
    but still seems to have the ‘sport sedan’
    theme going. As a current 6 owner, I am a little
    disappointed with this model, but I also understand
    Mazda’s way of looking at it. I’m hoping Mazda will
    offer the 6 cylinder with a stick in the future, and
    that they will ‘refine’ the overall looks of the car
    a little more…let’s consider this a stepping stone
    in the evolution of the 6.

  • avatar

    The 4 cylinder Mazda DOHC engine in the 3 and 6 is a Mazda designed engine, series MZR, also available in turbo direct injection (DISI). Comes in about 6 sizes including the 2.0 and 2.3 sold here in North America as well as the new 2.5l. It’s also used in European Fords like the Focus and Mondeo. I don’t know, but is the 2 liter in the NA Focus this engine as well, or some recycled Ford crap?

    The 3.7l V6 is Ford’s new corporate engine used in Tauri, Flexes and those Lincolns with the wacko grille (MK?). I bet Mazda had a bit of a go at it before using it in their cars.

    The old 2.3 engine should be a chuffer as it has a long stroke, but in fact can rev like crazy when modified, as a perusal of British web sites will tell. It has (had?) a bit of a oil supply problem. Cosworth makes versions of 250 hp for sale, as do a number of other suppliers, who go beyond 300 for 12000 pounds. It has an extremely well-designed cylinder head.

    So Mazda only needs to acknowledge Ford help on the V6 cars.

  • avatar

    From Michael’s post earlier:


    Ford has developed a turbo version of the V6. I fully expect that engine to power a new MazdaSpeed6.,

    The Edmunds test results are quite odd. I have just about never seen 0-60 times that slow for the V6 Altima (7.0 sec). Heck, Car and Driver got 7.4 for the 4-banger. Usually, it’s in the 6.3-6.4 range for the V6 / CVT. A few mags have posted sub-6 second times for the V6 / 6MT – which is what I drive. Edmunds themselves got better numbers when they ran their full test of the Altima SE. The comparison test car was clearly a bit of a slug.

    The thing that really impressed me most about the test results was the super-tight turning circle of the Mazda. That kind of manouverability will help offset its new puffed-up dimensions.

  • avatar

    Jaeger: I think part of the reason for the 7 second 0-60 is that the Altima they used is part of their long-term fleet and isn’t as fresh as the Accord and Mazda6 they used. Keep in mind that’s without the foot of rollout usually included in other magazines’ acceleration numbers.

  • avatar

    WMBA: Yes, the Mazda I4 (MZR) are the same as the Ford (DEH) engines. So, the Mazda 2.3l (updated to DISI 2.5l) is the same as has been found in the Focus, Fusion, Escape, Ranger (different heads), and a few other models including the Mercury clones. The range starts at 1.6l I believe.

    These are not strictly Mazda-designed motors, Ford helped out a bit in these as well.

  • avatar

    Thanks for a solid review Michael.

    You mentioned “brand faithful” in your closing. Ive owned enough mazdas to earn that title. This car really doesnt appeal to me in any category however. It is too big and heavy to be nimble, too loud to be a near-luxury car, too thristy to be frugal, too flamboyant to be elegant. Even the rediculous exhaust finishers are still faux. And that plastic zebrawood is a BIT MUCH. There is no 5-door, no wagon, not even a manual for the performance version!!!! This car is just about everything that the protege5 was NOT. This is the first time in 15 years that a mazda is not on the test drive list for our next car.

    Thanks Mazda for a good run. It was nice while it lasted.

  • avatar

    Again, you must be kidding here.
    Well, maybe not.
    Are you really saying that this parts sharing and design borrowing is not only wrong, but rare?
    That you are not aware of platform sharing?
    Engine sharing?
    I am sorry to inform you that this is not only common, its vital.
    Yes, everybody does it.
    Lexus and Toyota.
    Acura and Honda.
    Audi and VW.
    Even GM and Mercedes and others design together.
    This is everyday common stuff..

  • avatar

    2007 Mazda 6 owner here. Like the size of my 6, absolutely hate the beat-the-Accord mentality of the new 6. (If I wanted an Accord I would have gotten an Accord. I think the size of my 6 is perfect.)

    Like gamper I read on Edmunds that the new 6, a fully loaded model, weighs 3596 lbs (!!!!!!). Mazda, come on, that doesn’t help the Zoom-Zoom quotient.

    Mazda has since said it will reduce the weight of all future products, so I hope the ’09 6 is the last product to come from the old thinking. I also hope Mazda doesn’t screw up the next 3, which is coming next year.

  • avatar

    Here it is.
    This goes to heart of all the “blame Detroit”.

    Why did Detroit build so many SUVs and trucks…?
    Because consumers demanded them!
    That is the ONLY reason.
    (yes, yes, they should have done better with car options. they should have listened to the dire warnings and news. but vehicle production and planning is years, not months, in the making)

    NOBODY bought the old Mazda6.
    Go ahead, all you car people, praise Mazda all you want for the old car…but NOBODY wanted it.
    In fact, guess what they used as the most common complaint?
    Yup, its back seat was to small.
    To small and underpowered.

    So Mazda does what any sane manufacturer would do…build what they will buy.
    They made it bigger and more powerful.
    Go figure!!!!
    To build what they won’t buy is, well its stupid.

    I told a car salesperson the other day that their industry is really hell.
    So many great cars, so few buyers.
    This is a business where if you fail just a little, you’re out of the game.

    If they want it, build it.
    Not build it and hope they will buy it.

  • avatar

    I’d have to agree with SheabornSean, the midsize sedan segment is sort of crowded and most of the vehicles are all pretty good and similarly priced, though in my experience the Camry and Altima are cheapest after discounts. I really like the exterior styling of this car, but the MPG and the gloomy black interior are deal-killers.

  • avatar

    I agree.
    I just don’t understand those edmund numbers, but the mpg just have to get better today.
    I mean, its the same as a Murano AWD with its overall mpg (accdng to epa)!
    A car has just gotta do better!
    Even with regular gas.
    I think people are beginning to buy cars and thinking 3 to 4 years down the road with gas cost.

    By the way, you can do a little better with interior color contrast with options.
    In fact, the best comfort I experienced included the cloth bottom/leather sides combo.
    Much better!

  • avatar

    Wow, looks like quite a conversation sparked.

    In regards to the Bose system – I’m not a huge fan of Bose overall, and I have heard some fairly craptastic Bose stereo implementations in cars, however, one thing that I learned after talking with a Mazda rep who came by the dealership with a new 6 about a month or two ago is that Bose and Mazda worked together on the system to the point where Mazda designed the interior of the door panels and baffles so that the speakers could get the best frequency response and sound. Yes, you can do better aftermarket and possibly even do it cheaper, but this system sounds great and was just offered as a little bit of info to illustrate some of the lenghts Mazda went through to make this whole vehicle polished.

    Some other really nice touches (apart from the super-tight steering, which I will mention again just because it is so cool) are the blind spot warning system that lights up a little light in your mirror if you accidentally try to change lanes into another car, seats that are supportive while also accepting larger sized people, headlights that can be manually adjusted through three different levels, low undesirable road noise but still audible engine burble, etc.

    Having driven both the old and the new 6, I find the new one superior in pretty much every way. The vehicle is just as tossable, but because you are removed from the road sensation a bit more you do have to take a leap of faith that the car will hold its grip.

    I thought the EPA fuel economy numbers looked a bit low myself, so nice to see Edmunds real world testing is showing higher averages, and it will be interesting to see how it lines up with C&D/Motortrend/etc. Also of note that the only other car in the class that makes more power is the Maxima, and it requires premium fuel.

  • avatar

    Well, I’m not likely to ever drive one of these things, so I’ll flap my jaw about what I can see from my computer chair:

    1. I do not want “a bigger car” in this segment. I prefer smaller/neater/tidier. Digging up some specs, I see some interesting things:

    Car Sonata Altima Camry Accord Mazda 6
    Lng 188.90 189.80 189.20 194.10 193.70
    WB 107.40 109.30 109.30 110.20 109.80
    Wdth 72.10 70.70 71.70 72.70 72.40
    Weig 3,266 3,189 3,307 3,298 3,309

    Man, I knew that wouldn’t format very well at all! That is, in order:

    And hopefully you can sort through the numbers! Moving on:

    And I think the most interesting one is how Mazda 6 has grown larger without an increase in wheelbase compared to the smaller cars — “it’s all in overhang.” Not that Honda’s wheelbase increase is all that much to crow about, though, for that matter….

    2. Can’t say I’m a fan of the new styling. I wasn’t any fan of the previous version, but I guess the word for this one is “too over-the-top.” Those front fenders are almost freakish — quite a bit too exaggerated. And the rear end is really overdone — pretty much entirely caused by the enormous exhaust “ports” or whatever you want to call them. “Space shuttle engine nozzles” comes to mind — sheesh, they’re humungous!

    The main thing that gets me, though, is the front end, where the headlights just “seem too small for the face” of the car. Toss in the slightly awkward overhang-heavy proportions, and it’s all just kind of “goofy.”

    Anyway, that’s how I see it — overall it’s not really “ugly” or anything like that — it just doesn’t float my boat.

  • avatar

    In fairness – the Maxima makes a lot more power using less displacement. 272 hp out of 3.7l isn’t exactly overwhelmingly impressive in terms of specific output. Have a glance at what Infiniti wrings out of 3.7 liters if you want an apples to apples comparison, displacement-wise.

  • avatar

    I’ve had more than a few Mazda6 rentals (both 4 and 6-cyl models) and I thought they were the right size. I’m really hoping the newest 6, Accord, Camry, and Malibu is the top of the mountain in terms of growing bigger and wider.

    There was one dash feature that just drove me nuts with the 6 – that oversized front-and-center selected gear number regardless if you were in auto mode or manual mode.

    Please say that feature didn’t carry over! I don’t mind if it just read “P/R/N/D and then the numbers” but it just seemed to rub me the wrong way.

    Still like the styling – looks like everyone before me said what I was going to say!

  • avatar

    Yes, as far as I remember, the dash does still have a display that lets you know what gear you are in (although I don’t find it to be oversized).
    The headlights look small in the photos, but they look better in person, raked agressively as they are they flow with the RX-8-like exaggerated fender flares.

    I remember reading a quote from someone high up in Mazda in the past that went along the lines of “We design cars with sheetmetal, not with lights and brightwork” and it appears that Mazda is continuing with the tradition here. The raked headlights and the geometric exhaust outlets (which are becoming somewhat of a Mazda cue, appearing in several past concepts and in the production CX-9) and the raked headlights are the only real bling on the car, the rest is all done with the body panels. To me that is one of the things that makes most Mazda design stand the test of time. (The Millenia would still look current with a few minor changes, the various RX-7s still have a certain beauty to them and the FD is just flat out sexy, the econobox Protege5 is sharper looking than most new econobox hatches, the Miata set the design standard for the affordable roadster, etc).

    I agree that the 3.7 liter isn’t the most efficient or powerful engine of its size, but it does offer a wide powerband, excellent torque, and is just more seamless and usable in day to day driving than some of the more powerful engines of similar displacement from Infiniti et al. It is, after all, a multi-platform world engine so far used in various configurations and varieties of bore-out in the Edge, Taurus, Taurus X, Flex, MKS, MKZ, CX-9, and now the new Mazda6. I like it most in its car configurations as it seems most well suited there, and the concessions made to give it early torque tip in for the CUV applications end up making it more useful in the cars in day to day traffic that includes some congestion.

  • avatar

    But the coupe-ike roof exacts a penalty:

    This always bugs me. If I wanted a coupe, I’d buy a coupe, not a sedan suffering midlife crisis.

    The vestigal trunklid on most modern sedans is another casualty of this design; loading cargo into cars like this is a consummate piss-off because of the tiny passage.

    Why not just make a hatchback? That way, the designers can push the glass out to the rear of the car like you know they want to without compromising headroom (because the slant begins further rearward) and with a big increase in trunk opening.

  • avatar

    ppellico you still don’t get it do you?

    Simple quetion why did Ford built an engine for Mazda but their are more Mazda buyers than Ford?

    If Ford helped Mazda develop an engine for the Mazda 3 or 6

    Those consumers that bought Mazda should be able to appreciate Ford automobile like for example a Ford Focus.

  • avatar

    As a former Mazda 3s Wagon owner I took pride in knowing that my car was not just a Mazda. I knew it had a 2.3ltr Ford derived engine and that the platform was the same one that underpinned the European Focus as well as the Volvo S40.

    With start to finish product developement costs for a new platform in the Billions of dollars there is no way that a car company can create all of it’s own parts. Platform and technology sharing keeps costs down and allows car companies to make a profit.

    If you don’t like that chew on this, GM has been producing the automatics found in 3 and 5 series BMW sedans for years. (Yes, I know that ZF also supplies these transmissions for larger displacement 6cly engines).

    Talk about parts sharing.

  • avatar

    I, too, am a disappointed Mazda owner. I love my 2004 Mazda6. It is not too small, nor does it feel underpowered with the V6. Mazda is not even offering the new 6 with a manual? That right there is enough to take it off any car buying list me or my wife would draw up. How can you bill yourself as the sporty car maker if you don’t offer a manual transmission in your “sport” sedan?

    Why not just make a hatchback? That way, the designers can push the glass out to the rear of the car like you know they want to without compromising headroom (because the slant begins further rearward) and with a big increase in trunk opening.

    Actually the first generation 6 hatchback had less rear headroom in the hatch version. I know. I test drove several cars with my wife, and we took turns driving each car and sitting in the back seat. The low roof line on the Mazda6 hatchback was a deal killer before we even got to the actual driving part of the test drive. I just didn’t have enough head room in the back seat.

  • avatar

    Tgladden that is a very interesting info GM tranny on a BMW.

    It’s just sad to hear that American Automobiles are left out in sales.

    Like what my Chinese co-workers said to me America is the innovator and China is the manufacturer.

    The 2008 Mitsubishi they share platform with other American cars but I will be suprise if they share the MIVEC engine with an American car.

  • avatar



  • avatar

    Actually the first generation 6 hatchback had less rear headroom in the hatch version.

    You know, I never noticed that about the 6 hatch. Thank you for pointing that out. I was extrapolating based on my Saab (9-3, older bodystyle, not the Epsilon model) doesn’t see the roofline drop until past the passenger compartment.

    I never got in the back of the 6 hatchback; I remember the wagon definitely did better than the sedan. I’m surprised the hatch didn’t have at least an inch or so on the sedan.

  • avatar


    Is that right? The Altima is the only one that *doesn’t* crack 3,200 lbs? Nissan must be the only manufacturer who still ‘gets it,’ and kudos to them for de-bloating their cars.

  • avatar

    …regarding American cars being outsold by their stablemate Japan/Euro cousins:

    Ford Focus Sales (May 2008): Focus posted record May sales of 32,579, up 53 percent versus a year ago; retail sales to individual customers more than doubled (up 105 percent).

    Mazda 3 Sales (August 2008): the popular and fuel-efficient MAZDA3 had its best August sales month ever and continues to be Mazda’s sales leader. MAZDA3 reported a 4.4 percent increase in sales, totaling 10,970.

    Sources: Reuters & The Auto Channel

    While I know that is not a DIRECT month to month comparison it is the closest I can find.

    I also couldn’t find a comparison for sales in both Asia and Europe between the two vehicles. I however am and occasional betting man and am willing to wager that sales of the Mazda 3 (or equivillant model designation) compared to the Ford Focus are higher in places like Europe and Asia.

    Sometimes the home field does have an advantage.

    Bottom line though Beat is that your argument doesn’t hold water. Cars are designed to be shared around the globe. Some do better in sales over there than here and vice versa (please forgive my ethnocentrism).


  • avatar

    Actually there is no arguement. I know that car manufacturers share platforms or whatever they want to share with each other.

    I know that parts are shared all over the world just a Ford engine in a Mazda that I am so naive about and TEXN gave me a civilized answer without degrading my question (not you)

    I am just being a marketing student with curious questions and that’s how I learn.

    I am a Amatuer tuner and a time attack driver not a wanna be to know everything about cars.

    I learned from different people.

    As Ford Focus and Mazda 3 and 6.

    I see more Mazda out there than Ford Focus
    So, I assumed that Mazda is more popular than a Ford Focus.
    A lot of consumer prefer Mazda than Focus.

    European consumers are totally have different behavior than American consumers in buying cars.

    People from Leo Burnett might be able to answer my question.

  • avatar

    As A Mazda technician that was on duty when the Mazda 6 first came out, I was always disappointed in the amount of technical service bulletins and problems with this lack luster performance car.

  • avatar

    BEAT, it was my understanding that the MZR I4 engines were developed by Mazda with assistance from Ford – and Ford then branded it as the new Duratec series for a number of models. Recall that the Mazda3 shares its C1 platform with the Volvo S40 and the Euro Focus, not the US-spec Focus. Furthermore, the second-gen (current) US Foci only receive the smaller 2.0L MZR (Duratec 20), not the 2.3L available in up-trim Mazda3 sedans (and all wagons).

    So as far as someone choosing the Mazda3 (as I did, not that the Focus even entered my consideration) over the US Ford Focus, I’d hesitate to say that it’s just a product of brand-snobbery, which may in fact play a role in other parts-sharing ventures. The Grand Touring 3 comes equipped in ways many cars in this class do not, offers driving dynamics that belie its price (especially in lower trims), and is available as a wagon 5-door – Ford dropped the hatch/wagon versions of the Focus entirely.

    All of that is mostly rendered a moot point anyway, considering that the hardly-related Focus is apparently handily outselling the Mazda3. I’d guess that the low(er) cost and higher EPA rating of the Focus is responsible for the sales gap.

  • avatar

    Beat- are you talking about sales in the USA or worldwide?
    In the US 1st 6 months of the year
    Mazda 3- 61475
    Mazda 6- 33063
    Ford Focus- 123449
    Ford Fusion- 87923

    It could be that you just don’t notice all the Foci.
    Macca- I think the Focus still outsells the 3 due to brand recognition and the much larger number of dealers. The biggest sellers in this segment are from the biggest brands.
    Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet, Ford. Mazda is still somewhat of a “niche” brand. I would guess that the per dealer sales of the 3 are the highest of any car sold.

  • avatar

    Davey49…good point. In my town there are (at last count) 5 Ford dealers. There’s one Mazda dealer. I would argue that from the vehicle lineup viewpoint, Mazda is hardly niche, but from a sales volume angle they are decidedly ‘small’. You’re right – the Mazda3 is Mazda’s best selling car, too.

    I’d assume, though, that anyone cross-shopping a Focus with the 3, if intent on gas-mileage, would be turned off by the meager EPA rating of both the 2.0L and 2.3L 3. The (minor) performance intent of the 3 is hardly a selling point to the average consumer looking for cheap, efficient transport.

  • avatar

    I have to agree with Ash78…

    I can’t figure why we’re not seeing a bit more in the way of Turbo 4’s on some of these sedans.

    And I’ve been harping on this for a while, but why why why is the focus on a car like this the 0-60 time. Not that the review (which was good) went that way, but the discussions I see and other reviews always go straight to the 0-60 time, even when discussing the I4 engines, regardless of maker. I guess my point is this – is anyone really buying a 4cyl, mid-to-full size sedan for the 0-60 performance? As long as it’s under, say, 8 seconds, who gives a crap?

    On the 6…I like it the new looks, but I also liked the old one. I thought the previous model drove pretty well for what it is (read: not a sports car). Definitely would consider one!

  • avatar

    After quite a bit of shopping with my mother, who still likes her cars to handle and go but wanted a largish people mover, she took delivery of a fully loaded Mazda 6s Touring two weeks ago…

    We’ve discovered a low speed HVAC fan growl at idle that they all suffer from (apparently we’re the only ones that noticed this?), and Mazda is figuring out how to rectify, but other than that, she loves it – thinks it’s far more exciting to drive than the Accord…(and certainly the Camry) while actually being a quiet enough cruiser on the highway for my grumpy father.

    I think if marketed properly, it’s going to exceed last year’s sales numbers. And they’ve been getting just about 30 MPG on the highway so far, even under my mother’s leaden foot (not that anyone who used to drive a WS6 gives a hoot about MPG).

    There’s no question it’s different than the 6 of past (which will disappoint the loyalists – of which there weren’t enough of to begin with) – it’s larger, therefore less tossable. But do the math (literally) – look at the Accord/Camry sales leaders – you’ve got to adapt your family car platform to the North American market if you want more sales.

    (And please don’t site the Altima as the exception – the Altima was a much smaller car that bloated with every new generation until it dropped a SMALL fraction of its size with this latest one…)

  • avatar

    This car is really growing on me. Every time I look at it, it gets separated from the old 6 just a bit more. And its bulk actually does more to complement it than make it less desirable. Mazda does such a wonderful job with putting sportiness into their car designs, that I don’t know how anyone could honestly argue that the design of this car is bad. The head and taillights are extremely refreshing, compared to what else is on the road. My mom is even considering purchasing one (she might get an ’08 instead of an ’09 because the dealers will want them out of their lots), and she’s been a 100% Ford driver her entire life because of family ties, normal Detroit stuff, etc. She is somehow drawn by the fact that the Mazda 6 is the exact same as the Ford Fusion and its twins, but its built in Michigan instead of Mexico. Hooray for being different this time around Mazda!

  • avatar

    The ads on TV for this car are different for Mazda, but they still use the “Zoom Zoom” slogan, and you can tell they are really putting a lot of effort/hope into this car.

  • avatar

    I picked up my 09 Mazda 6s this week. Great car and after driving all the others I couldn’t be happier with my purchase.

    The Good:
    I really like the look of the car.
    Very comfortable with lots of head and leg room (without sunroof).
    Plenty of power (and I traded in a G8 GT).
    Driving the car at night.
    The cars start up process.
    Amazing Fit and Finish to everything.
    Nice firm ride and sound (great paint).
    You don’t see this car at every stoplight and Walmart parking lot.

    The Bad:
    Test drive the car at night and you WILL buy it.
    Hit a bump on the freeway and you will hear the ping of the tires echo through the cabin.
    The V6 is just a little thirsty (average 20 mpg).
    Needs a summer tire option.

    My brother in law has a new Accord and in driving the two we both aggree that the Mazda is just more fun with more room inside. He is going out this month to look at trading up to the 6. And he has yet to drive the 6 at night!

  • avatar

    Michael Karesh

    You may know your cars, but the old TL is no sportster. It wants to get to 65-70 and go on a straight line. Maybe I’m used to the opposite end of the spectrum, but to me I’d almost compare it to a Crown Vic or similar car.

  • avatar

    We picked up our Mazda6i Touring yesterday. We comparison shopped the Accord, Camry, Altima and Malibu, all in a 4 cyl model.

    The Accord was very disappointing with the ride and noise. We also own an ’08 Civic we love but the Accord just didn’t cut it in the 4 cyl model.

    The Altima was a better ride but seemed plastic inside.

    The Malibu was nice but we felt it was over-priced given it’s limited features and struggled to find a salesperson at Chevrolet dealerships who was knowledgable about the car.

    It came down to the Camry or the Mazda6. Both rode exceptionally well, were quiet and well appointed. The Mazda6 came with many more features such as the keylessentry/push button start, dual climate controls, Xenon headlights and rain sensing wipers.

    We were disappointed the moonroof was not available without the Bose stereo but we went ahead and paid for it.

    We’re pleased with our decision.

  • avatar

    Maybe there’s no manual offered with the V6 because of all the clutch burnup problems Mazda had with the 1st gen. Looked at the hatchback Mazda6 as a possible replacement for my old SAAB, (wow, a Japanese mfr was actually selling a hatch again!) but was turned off by the clutch problem, and Mazda’s standard response which was of course, it’s your fault.
    Sad to see Mazda not bucking the “we must build huge cars for obese N. Americans” trend of late. Cars keep getting bigger but there’s still only only one person in 99% of them on the road. Seems the logical extreme will be to eliminate the passenger seat and make the seating motorcycle style. Just think how much you could reduce the frontal area that way.
    On my way to the patent office now.

  • avatar

    Mazda, one of the most innovative and passionate auto companies, sort of gave us a let down with the new 6.

    Think about it: This is the company that defied everyone and the critics and got the Wankel U.S. 50 state emissions approved, and uses it now in the RX-8.

    They used the Miller-Cycle motor in the Millenia.

    The have lightweight, agile, solid offerings with WAY sportier aspirations and delivery than Camcorders or Corrolics.

    They have consistent reliability, probably now on par with a degenerate Toyota and dejected Honda (lots of tranny failures, many rattles, oh lauded one).

    But the new 6? Bloated, heavy, exaggerated, numb steering, terrible seat fabrics and chintzy leather, and a ride that makes you feel the broken pavement with no reciprocal benefit. Where’s the Zoom-Zoom payoff in all of that?

    Mazda can do better than this. Much better.

    Off topic – I sat in an MX-5 with leather trim, and oh my, Porsche can’t do interior build quality or gauge package layout or design any better, I’m telling you…Brilliant! That’s the Mazda we need across the board.

  • avatar

    broccoli: What clutch burn up issues? Not saying it doesn’t happen, but I’ve got 146kmi on my V6+MTX and have yet to see a need to replace the clutch. There have been a couple instances where I’ve thought it was slipping, but the TCS can do some odd things in terms of modulating throttle input, so until it becomes a frequent problem I don’t see the point in replacing it.

    The reason there’s no MTX for the Cyclone V6 is because FMC is responsible for the V6 powertrains going in Mazdas and they aren’t developing a manual transaxle for these engines. It just is not going to happen. We got lucky with the first gen 6 because FMC already had a MTX on the same engine in Europe.

    On the topic of the current 6… I’d go with a 3 and be happy. Similar in overall dimensions and mass to the old 626 with an I4 that has as much power as the old K series V6 and marginally better fuel economy. Not to mention the turning radius is likely better thanks to the shorter wheelbase.

  • avatar

    I’m sick and tired of “americanization” of cars… all the cars being released these days are big and bloated. i miss sedans the size of e36 3-series or IS300 without having to buy something like a Yaris.

    All the car magazines praise the fact that the next release of a model is now larger. When will someone write an article that cars are too big and heavy now. not everyone wants a car that you have to squeeze out of b/c it’s so wide and you don’t want to hit the garage wall or the car next to you. Remember, even as cars get bigger, roads and parking spaces don’t!

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