By on January 23, 2018

Image: Mazda USA

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]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

75 Comments on “6 Appeal: Mazda’s Newly Turbocharged Midsize Reveals Its MPGs As Automaker Hopes Upscale Push Pays Off...”


  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Now that I’ve done 1st grade math problems and logged in twice… (yeah WTF)

    With the current hatchback resurgence Mazda needs to go ahead and raise the Speed3 from the ashes. We’ve got more GTI competitors now than ever before, and hot hatches don’t seem like they’ll ever go out of style.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    What’s the percentage take on the current V6 Camry and the past V6 Accord over their 4-cyl counterparts?

    I don’t see this saving the 6 – even if it is a good looking sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The Mazda6 is different than the Accord or Camry in that it looks and feels like it should accelerate quicker than it does with it’s base engine. The 6 could be a sporty car with more power while the Accord and Camry always feel like “Dad’s car” with or without more power. A V6 Camry can easily convert tires into smoke, but it feels unnatural to do this.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Malibu 2.0T sees 37 mpg according to MT’s costly analytical machine. Plus at a discounted $26,000, better handling and shorter 60-0 mph.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I’m actually interested to see how the real world MPGs turn out on the turbo.

    Going off memory here, but I think Consumer Reports got real world average MPG in their test of 32mpg for the automatic non-turbo 6, the best real-world economy in the segment. Yeah, just verified, CR pulled 22MPG city / 44mpg highway / 32mpg average. So they got 44mpg real world on a car with a sticker calling for 35mpg. Pretty impressive.

    EPA ratings are one thing. Lets see if Mazda can do the same on the turbo engine or if they end up “Ford-ized” in real-world MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      Thats one thing you dont have to worry about Mazda doing. They pretty much in recent history under promise with MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      cblais

      Looking at CR’s ratings of the CX-9 the engine achieved above ratings in their highway test, and below in their city. Combined MPGs are pretty near EPA but it looks like it does very well in highway cruising even in the heavier and less aerodynamic SUV package.

      Doubt it’s going to pull any significant sales from the CamCord behemoths though.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Agreed. It won’t pull CamCord customers, but it will probably help keep Mazda from losing market share. Gas will remain cheap for the next couple of years, so any small mpg penalty won’t matter.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      MT, and their CA 91 octane piss water, got 25/27 mpg highway in their Real World fuel economy testing thr CX-9.

      In MT Real World was 37 mpg for the Malibu 2.0T.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      So far the window sticker MPG is way off on most everything save trucks and SUV’s from what I actually get hand calculated at the pump. I have driven current generation Elantra’s, Sonata’s, Malibu’s, Lacrosses, Impala’s etc and each has exceeded its highway number by up to 4 MPG.

      2017 Elantra SE rated 38 highway saw 42.1 going 75 MPH over al 100 mile trip
      2017 Sonata SE rated for 36 highway saw 39.9 going 75 MPH over a 85 mile trip
      2018 Malibu LT rated for 36 highway saw 40.2 going 75 MPH over 200 mile trip
      2017 Impala LT 2.5 rated for 30 highway saw 34.3 going 75 MPH on 200 mile trip
      2017 LaCrosse rated for 31 highway saw 32.8 going 75 MPH on a shorter 40 mile trip

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Well they are atleast addressing some of the issues, just two or three at a time. NVH is now on par with everything else, yet I know some here will say differently. However as a Mazda fan even I will admit its still not powerful enough (numbers wise). Of course I havent driven it however when Honda and every one else is doing 250 plus, Mazda should be as well.

    It doesnt matter if its needed its just wanted and needed for perception. I also feel that its time for a new transmission. The one they have is great for what it is and I for one understand that they really cant afford to do to many things at once however since all of their products share the same tranny they need to invest in a world class 10 speed.

    yes I know that a 8 or nine would suffice however they really need something they can hang they hats one since Honda now has their version of a 10 speed.M Maybe in three more years when their new engine is ready they will heed my cries.
    I need for you to survive Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      “its still not powerful enough (numbers wise)”

      310 ft-lbs @ 2,000 rpm isn’t good enough? That’s more torque than a WRX STi!

      That’s a very healthy amount of push for a midsize family pseudo-luxury sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        With AWD I think a turbo-4 midsize sedan would be just fine for the Mountain West (and it’s not some pseudo Sport Utility Sedan). Throw the car seats in the back and my 3 year old daughter would love charging the on ramp hard after getting picked up at the sitters.

        Her mother on the other hand would get motion sick. I’m not a bad driver honey, you’re a bad passenger.

        • 0 avatar
          Sub-600

          A pseudo-SUV or CUV without a low range has little more “utility” than my AWD Charger R/T, and a lot less “sport”. This Mazda 6 with AWD would be a decent winter car.

        • 0 avatar
          Blackcloud_9

          Yeah, I tried that “bad passenger” thing with my wife, didn’t go so well. It’s annoying, on long trips I almost always drive. She is very content to stare at her phone (oblivious of her surroundings or traffic conditions) until the moment I do a slight twitch on the steering wheel. Then you get the “What did you do wrong” sharp intake of breath.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Blackcloud_9

            lol – I’ve gotten the: “I just saw YOUR life flash before MY eyes, Gringo.”

            Latina’s are fun. ;-)

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        I would get too giddy about the sound deading as it adds weight, especially thr acoustic glass that GM has used along.

        The extra 150 lbs on hanging off the side of the engine on the 6 or extra differential, axles, hubs, and reenforced rear subframe/rear of the car is not going help it’s already average handling in MT figure-8 test or CR Emergency Lane Change test.

        Take the CX-9 for example, middling 50 mph in CR Emergency Lane Change compared to the stellar 55.5 mph by a slightly smaller Buick Envision.

        Mazda hasn’t had Zoom-zoom for a few decades now.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Well its about time Mazda upped the horsepower on the 6. Hopefully they extend this to other lines as well. Horsepower sells. I really like the Mazda lineup but it has been chronically underpowered across the board. Heck even a base Dodge Charger puts out 300hp with the Pentastar 6.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

  • avatar
    silentsod

    I’m hoping they pair this with the AWD system rumored to be coming to America or have developed an excellent way to handle torque steer given that they didn’t tune the motor differently from the CX-9.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Yeah it’s compelling.

    If it wasn’t for a desire for decent resale values (not going to happen in sedan) I’d be on this.

  • avatar
    tremorcontrol

    Put the turbo in the beautiful wagon and bring it here! It won’t help de-throne the camcord set but it will make a handful of people VERY happy and show Mazda has a different vibe. Mazda could take a chunk of the Subaru/Volvo crowd with an affordable, semi-quick wagon (especially if they include AWD). Outback is too big, and Volvo is too expensive. Mazda 6 wagon FTW!

    • 0 avatar
      Stevo

      Yes I wish they brought the wagon. I’ve both BMW and Audi wagons in the past, VW wagon now, and have hoped to finally turn in our Odyssey for the beautiful Mazda wagon now that kids are driving themselves or near it. I want nice handling and bigger than the VW, cheaper than the premium Germans. I’m not buying a CX5 instead Mazda. Oh what the hell, I am nearing Buick’s demographic anyway.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Mazda 6 finally gets an upgraded engine?! I can’t wait to go tes-oh it’s automatic.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I assume there are more ponies with premium fuel just as with the CX-9? Needs AWD for sure with that much torque. I would have thought they would rework the engine a bit from the CX-9 given the substantial weight difference and mission requirements.

    I may be wrong, but wasn’t 2014 the first model year? That would make this the 5th model year, I suppose 6th on sale if you count the latter part of 2013 when the 2014 model went on sale. Maybe I am off on the dates.

    With the new engine and exterior refresh, does this mean the current model will soldier on for at least another model year after 2018, I suspect so.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Still a good looking car, but doesn’t have the “WOW” factor that it did when it first came out.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Just get these beautiful cars, lift a bit, weld the hatchback, put some plastic cladding, slap AWD under floor, and call it Mazda6 Cross Country. It will fly off the lots.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    You can get an Accord now with a manual and more HP not seeing how this is going to help Mazda much. Granted it looks good and more power is helpful but with Camry and accord offering more I don’t see a big increase in sales.

    Perhaps AWD from the CX-9 as well could help to set it apart from the pack.

    For me bring the wagon over with AWD and a manual and this engine and I’ll take it in signature trim. As of now I’m leaning towards the Buick, only mid-sized affordable wagon on sale.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “Granted it looks good and more power is helpful but with Camry and accord offering more I don’t see a big increase in sales.”

      Go sit in the 6, then go sit in a CamCord. The 6 has hands down the best interior in the midsize sedan non-luxury class, and probably the best handling as well.

      • 0 avatar
        TMD748

        Go in with an open mind, and you’ll see that the Mazda6 is no longer the car with “hands down” best interior. You can have your preference to styling, but you can’t deny that 2018 CamCord have gotten more “luxurious” inside.

        Just because their slogan is “Driving Matters”, doesn’t mean they are automatically the best handling car. Handling feel is one thing, but actual performance results are yet to be seen. The previous (or current) gen Mazda6 isn’t some sort of miracle machine. Multiple reviews have stated that it is still tuned with efficiency in mind.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          You’re right. In fact, Consumer Reports found that Legacy beats Mazda6 in avoidance maneuver speed. But what you don’t get, is how driving a car feels, Mazda has no rivals in class. Steering, clutch, gear shifter, brakes. Mazda has best calibration, best feel, best precision.

          • 0 avatar
            Felix Hoenikker

            When I cross shopped a Mazda6 and an Accord in 2014, I didn’t see a significant difference in handling between the two.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Yes the Accord and Camry have improved their interiors but do have Mazda in 2015 and now 2018 so it stays ahead.
          Agreed just because if their slogan it isn’t necessarily the best driving midsize sedan, but again it is acknowledged as one if the two best in the segment.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          As long as the chassis is competent, handling test results come down almost entirely to the tires. All it would take is a serious set of supercar-type summer tires for any midsize sedan to dominate the handling tests with over 1.0g of grip.

          Most buyers rightfully ignore those numbers though. Not because they actually know why they’re irrelevant, but because it is irrelevant for the typical driver who never exceeds 0.2g. So fuel economy, NVH, comfort, and tread wear are given priority during tire selection.

          Mazda does tune their chassis to be a bit more neutral than most manufacturers. But again, the difference in the numbers resulting from this is negligible compared to the effect of tire selection. The thing that really differentiates Mazda is the emphasis on communication. The suspension and steering tells you what’s happening at the tires, which allows you to easily make use of their limits.

          • 0 avatar
            TMD748

            Nah, what really differentiates Mazda is their marketing scheme. They’ve been blasting “zoom zoom” and “driving matters” for the past decade and a half. “Communication”, “driving feel”, “dynamics” = confirmation bias. CamCords don’t actively sell subjectivity, so people are stuck with the preconception of “family sedan”.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Spoken like someone who’s never been on a track.

      • 0 avatar
        willhaven

        I think the 6 and the Accord compare pretty well against each other. All things being equal, I would probably get the Accord Touring. It just seems like a better value.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      “You can get an Accord now with a manual ”

      Hey, you can! They are more available now than before

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        Not sure I’d say “more available”… but they do have as many as people would probably buy I am guessing.

        Out of the ~400 new Accords available within 50 miles of me, there are 15 manuals. Of the ~100 new Mazda 6’s available in the same area, there are 2 manuals. So, percentage-wise, the Accord wins on manual availability. Of course, it’s possible that Mazda sells a higher percentage of manuals in the 6 than the Accord, but I kinda doubt that for some reason.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ll give this a shot.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Too small inside. Front headroom is low; rear is lower yet. Most other makes have another 2 inches up front and another 1 inch for rear passengers.

  • avatar
    TMD748

    “It’s a driver’s car”

    • 0 avatar
      asphaltcowboy

      Too bad there were 98 regular Joes for every 2 ‘drivers’ buying mid-sized sedans in 2017.

      Guess Mazda is OK with its small NA market share – if anything Mazda should axe this thing and concentrate on making more competitive SUVs. (alright the CX-5 is OK – the others suck balls).

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Here’s the question, though: is the new engine available in lower trim levels, or do you have to buy the top of the line trim to get it?

    Here’s hoping it’s the former. This car would become VERY attractive with this level of performance at a high-$20,000’s price point. If it’s priced in the mid-$30,000s, then I don’t see it selling very well.

  • avatar
    kc1980

    I hate how high the 6 sits off the ground. Ruins the sporty look somewhat. Hard to believe this model has been in production 6 years already. More power is a great, but its a bit late to finally include it.

    People always want whats next, and interest in the 6 has already passed many by.

    Mazda is such an “almost” brand for me. Several cars they have are “almost” compelling, but either price, option packages, or lack of power totally eliminate them from being an option for me.

    They seem quite confused about what people want, and what type of cars they need to deliver to the market. Their style is pretty on point for the most part though.

  • avatar
    salguod

    We just replaced my wife’s 2007 Prius Touring (a car she loved and I tolerated) and we looked at a used 2015 Mazda6 Touring. The interior was very nice and the steering and handling was very good as well. But, the cowl is high, the roof is low and the A pillar is thick. At 4’10” she had a hard time finding a good driving position.

    Went from the Mazda store to Honda to drive a 2015 Accord Hybrid. The difference in driving position was night and day. Low cowl, high roof and thin A pillar made for an expansive view out. Yes, the interior wasn’t as nice and the handling wasn’t as sharp, but it frankly didn’t give up much in the handling department (light years better than the Prius) and the electric motor’s instant torque was nice and it promised Prius like MPG.

    If it were just me, I’d have taken the Mazda for the styling, interior and slight edge in driving enjoyment. But for a car that she’ll drive more than I do, the Accord is the better choice. Frankly, it’s an amazingly good all around car and the first one in a long time that we’ve both liked.

  • avatar
    ernest

    This car mystifies me. 387,000 Camry’s sold last year. 322,000 Accords. 33,000 Mazda 6’s. What gives? Here’s what is obvious- a beautifully styled sedan widely touted by the press, with one of the few remaining manuals available, isn’t enough to crack this market. When we went out to buy the wife a midsize car, our priorities were pretty simple. Superior build quality, bombproof reliability, and reasonably pleasant styling. Mazda wasn’t even on the shopping list. Wife didn’t like the dash layout of the Accord, I’m not enthused with the CVT. A Fusion, identically equipped to our Camry, would have run out about $3000 more (!). Easy decision- but looking at the numbers, we aren’t alone in that assessment

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      What kept the 6 off your list; build quality, reliability, or both?

      • 0 avatar
        SuperCarEnthusiast

        I purchase a couple of Mazda in the past that develop rust problems around the wheel wells just after the warranty ran out and one during the warranty. Mazda gave me a run around until 4 month and warranty was expired, final said they could not help me! Never purchased another Mazda again.

        • 0 avatar
          salguod

          Mazda replaced one door on my 2005 Mazda3 (bought new in 2006) under their 5 year rust through warranty. They should have done more, but the dealer refused to let me talk to the Mazda rep to plead my case or at least get an explanation as to why other areas weren’t covered.

          Almost 7 years later, I still own the car and the quarters look like swiss cheese. Still a fun car and it’s been mechanically reliable, but I sure hope their newer models have better rust protection.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The land of the rising sun also sees rising prices of Toyota and Honda as they are the most expensive in any segment.

  • avatar
    ernest

    One of the things that drives my wife to distraction on her dad’s C300 is the iPad lookalike sticking up in the center of the dash. It’s a nuisance to her, not a convenience. Guess what the Mazda 6 has? To be honest, though, that wasn’t the dealbreaker. We’ve owned a Camry and 3 Accords in the past, and had very positive experiences. And we’ve had good service from a variety of Fords. I knew the Accord was out before we even left the lot on a test-drive. Wife hated the dash layout- a triple-tiered affair that’s more distracting than useful. I see they changed that in ’18… but their version of the iPad is sprouting from the dash as well.

    The Camry seemed just right. Right size, right power, built like a Rolex, and in SE trim handles more than adequately for her needs. Incentives and discounts knocked $4500 off of the sticker, putting the car just under $20K OTD. That’s a helluva lot of car for the money, IMO.

    Fusion SE with the Sport Pkg came in $3K more. Call me silly, but I couldn’t see paying more for the Ford than the Toyota, although for even money the choice would have been a wash.

  • avatar
    incautious

    Id rather get a root canal then ever step into another Mazda dealer! These guys give lawyers a good name. Then of course there’s the price of this Mazda 6. Id be very surprised if this came in at less that 35K. For 36K you can get a base A4 which in my opinion is the superior car.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    Mazda management must be retarded! LOL! It took them five long years to come to this conclusion that the 6 was underpowered compared to their competition? Next move to make the 6 a near luxury brand is adding in an AWD option for people that live in the snow and rain climates Washington State and Wisconsin in their next redesign 6.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    They NEED to put this engine in the 3 (in a higher state of tune as the MS3) and CX-5.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    I think this is almost irrelevant to success. Price will rule the day, and with their existing pricing structure unless it changes, I can’t see how this model can be competitive. Therefore MPGs – ‘pays off’ really is a non starter conversation IMO.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    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.

  • avatar
    Elusivellama

    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.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ToolGuy: “much better than the horror show that the Camaro is now” Will no one rise to defend the...
  • tankinbeans: I have pretty much the perfect spec in my car today. Finally pulled the trigger on a Mazda3 Turbo. Must...
  • tankinbeans: I briefly paid for a subscription to Sirius 10 years ago, but have the same problem with Sirius as I do...
  • Ol Shel: So, you just made sh!t up, and want people to believe it’s a fact. You sound like the jacka$$ at the...
  • nrd515: I agree with most of your list, with a few exceptions: I don’t drive enough miles to really care about...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber