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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
6 appeal mazda s 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]

Join the conversation
3 of 75 comments
  • 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.

  • Dukeisduke The "fix" is not a fix - it just assures that when the o-ring breaks down and leaks brake fluid onto the board, the fuse will blow and the car won't burn to the ground. The HECU ("Hydraulic Unit Assembly" in H/K parlance) will still be dead, and you'll have no ABS or ESC. So the car won't burn to the ground, but you'll be looking at an expensive repair. I priced the HECU (Kia p/n 58920-1M640) for the 2012 Forte Koup - the MSRP is $2,325.79, and I can get one from the online seller I buy from for $1646.65. It's not much labor to replace, but then you have to bleed the brakes, or preferably flush the system, since the car's 11 years old and could use a flush. Folks relying on a dealer will be out $3k or more for repairs.I went to the NHTSA site and filed a defect report (the only way I could find to comment on the recall) to tell them that they should force H/K to replace the HECUs on all the affected vehicles, instead of allowing them to just do the minimum.
  • SCE to AUX All right Hyundai - enough of this.These are all older cars, and I believe H/K issued a recall for the same thing before. My former 09 Sedona was recalled for an ABS fire risk. The solution was some sort of extra ground wire from the battery down to the ABS unit or something - I didn't trace it.H/K has a habit of issuing partial solutions with limited scope (saving face), then later expanding the recall greatly. They did this with the 2.4 engine debacle, corroding control arms, and now this ABS thing.As for the EV vs ICE fire debate, no need to stir that pot here. EVs use hydraulic ABS brakes as well, but they don't appear to be covered in this recall (yet... and it would only be the early Ioniq 1 EV, if any).Looking into my crystal ball, they'll probably have to recall the Ioniq 5/6 and Genesis GV60 for an ongoing charging issue, where the charging port heats up and limits the charging rate on an AC plug (at home).Following their usual pattern, a software fix was issued first, greatly slowing the charge rate. Owners are irate, and I think Hyundai is simply delaying the day when they have to replace the wiring harness and charge port on all their new EVs, at great expense.Sorry Hyundai - can't defend you on this one.
  • IH_Fever HK trying too hard to compete with Ford...
  • Kwik_Shift Eff HyunKia.
  • FreedMike Love the corporate speak here: "thermal incidents."