6 Appeal: Mazda's Newly Turbocharged Midsize Reveals Its MPGs As Automaker Hopes Upscale Push Pays Off

6 appeal mazdas newly turbocharged midsize reveals its mpgs as automaker hopes

This is the sixth model year for the third-generation Mazda 6 which, despite its age, remains arguably the best-looking midsize sedan on the market. Mazda belatedly answered long-standing cries for more power by offering a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four for 2018, giving the model the grunt it needs to back up its sporting pretentions.

We now know what drivers can expect at the pumps from this engine, borrowed from the CX-9 parts bin. However, can the emergence of a true Mazda 6 sports sedan rekindle waning interest in the model?

Mazda sure hopes it will. In keeping with its quest to be seen as a slightly more premium type of automaker, the 2018 Mazda 6 gains not just 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque from the available engine (up from 184 hp and 185 lb-ft in lesser models), but a new Signature trim that brings Nappa leather and real wood trim into the fold.

(There’s also some minor styling tweaks to go with the chassis and handling refinements, but given the model’s lithe, KOBO-penned exterior, the minor details are lost in the overall package. That’s not a bad thing.)

Moving up to the turbo mill arriving this spring doesn’t impact the car’s fuel economy rating all that much. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the higher-output engine at 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined. In mixed driving, this translates into a 3 mpg drop compared to an automatic-equipped base model, or a 1 mpg drop from the rare six-speed manual model. (Sadly, all turbocharged models arrive with six-speed automatics.)

The biggest difference in thirst comes on the highway, where the turbo model sees a 4 mpg drop compared to automatic-equipped lesser models. Still, 31 mpg is hardly a rating many buyers would fret over.

The midsize sedan segment, as well all know, isn’t doing too well these days. In 2017, midsize volume fell 13.1 percent compared to the previous year — a worse drop that that of the overall passenger car market, which declined 10.9 percent. Mazda 6 sales in the U.S. have fallen, year-over-year, for 11 consecutive months. Last year’s volume dropped 26.6 percent compared to 2016, and 42.3 percent compared to the model’s post-recession peak in 2015.

It’s possible 2018 will see a number of buyers figure “it’s now or never,” and finally grab up the 6 of their dreams. However, as much as Mazda would like to see the model soar, its U.S. sales hopes lie elsewhere.

An upcoming crossover expected to roll out of the company’s not-yet-built joint assembly plant in Alabama will be geared directly to U.S. buyers; depending on response, the automaker — thanks to its partnership with Toyota — will have room to build 150,000 of them a year.

[Image: Mazda USA]

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  • S197GT S197GT on Jan 24, 2018

    mazda fan here. owned a few. had i known they were going to finally turbo the 6 i would have held off from buying a 17 ford fusion to give it a look. but after 6 years i never thought they would. still, as has been mentioned, their pricing is just too high. maybe the cars are worth it, but the name mazda isn't there yet, so, these will be great cars to buy in 2020 after depreciation takes its toll.

  • Elusivellama Elusivellama on Jan 29, 2018

    I feel like the Mazda I used to know is gone. Where is the next gen Mazdaspeed 3? What happened to the Mazdaspeed 6? Why isn't this new turbo 6 offered with a manual? What's all this talk about rotary engines being a range extender for hybrid powerplants? Mazda has changed fundamentally from the company that used to offer the manic Mazdaspeed 3/6 and the RX sports cars, and they're rightly focusing on making money again while improving their core technologies. At the same time, there is NOTHING in the current lineup that even tempts me slightly. Not even this new turbo Mazda 6 has anything I want, and I'd rather get the new Accord 2.0T anyway. I'm still hanging onto my speed 3 while waiting for a true AWD upgrade, and there is nothing at all making me want to stay in the Mazda brand.

    • Chiefmonkey Chiefmonkey on Jan 29, 2018

      I'm pretty sure the Mazdaspeed 6 had a dismal reliability record. If that's the "old Mazda," I'm perfectly content with the new.

  • 2ACL What tickles me is that the Bronco looks the business with virtually none of the black plastic cladding many less capable crossovers use.
  • IBx1 For all this time with the hellcat engine, everything they made was pathetic automatic scum save for the Challenger. A manual Durango, Grand Cherokee, Charger, 300C, et al would have been the real last gasp for driving enthusiasts. As it is, the party is long over.
  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.