Highlights: The Mazda6 is the only vehicle in the segment to offer a BMW iDrive-like system to control the audio system and navigation system via the use of a center rotating dial. And, while a 6-cylinder engine is no longer available, a fuel-sipping diesel engine will be available early next year. When the diesel arrives, the Mazda6 will become the only vehicle in the segment, offering a diesel.
Test vehicle’s MSRP: $32,845 (Base Model starts at $26,755)
Seating Capacity: 5
Standard Safety Features: airbags (side, front, curtain, and rear); hill-launch assist, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System; and whiplash reducing front seats
Standard Equipment: Standard Audio: a 6-speaker audio system with an AM/FM stereo, a CD player and a limited subscription Satellite radio
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
Bluetooth Compatibility: Yes
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder/182-hp
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Standard Fuel Mileage: 28-city/38-hwy
Standard Features: 17-inch wheels; heated outside mirrors; cloth seats with manual adjustments; a dual-zone automatic a/c system; power windows; power door locks; a manual tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel; steering wheel audio controls; an upscale ice blue interior ambient lighting system; and an OnStar limited subscription-based turn-by-turn navigation system
What’s New: Mazda’s flagship vehicle has been restyled for the 2014 model year, offering an Infiniti-like design. To complement the curvaceous design, all the Mazda6s are equipped with a fuel-efficient, 4-cylinder Skyactiv system and can be equipped with a host of high-tech safety features.
Pros: At first glance, the Mazda6 takes styling cues from Infiniti’s flagship, the M. The Mazda6 also has a performance-oriented feel too. It’s not too harsh or too floaty. While it is not like the discontinued RX-8, the independent MacPherson Strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension system provides the new Mazda6 with the perfect balance, capturing the zoom, zoom feel we’ve seen in the ads.
This is largely due to the brand’s flagship vehicle having the best coefficient of drag in the segment, the 19-inch wheels on the Grand Touring model we reviewed, and the BMW iDrive-like system. With the iDrive-like system, the driver (and front seat passenger) can use a rotary dial to operate everything from the audio system to the nav system.
The Mazda6 is also able to achieve 38-mpg in the highway, making it one of the most fuel-efficient non hybrid vehicles in the class alone with the Nissan Altima. Added to that, Mazda’s flagship can travel up to 500 miles on a tank of gas due to its Skyactive technology.
Moreover, depending upon the trim, Madza6s can be outfitted with such high-tech safety features as a blind spot monitoring system, a forward obstruction warning system, a rear cross traffic alert system and a low-speed brake support system. Some of these features aren’t available on vehicles in the large car segment or the luxury car segment.
Cons: The stylish Mazda6 should offer a dual sunroof like its Korean competitors, the Hyundai Sonata and the Kia Optima. Also we noticed that the TomTom navigation system doesn’t offer traffic data like its competitors, forewarning us of traffic and the like. Added to that, the nav screen is too small for a car of this caliber. The current nav screen is suited more for a compact vehicle. Moreover, the Mazda6 engineers should consider offering a manual transmission for the high end Grand Touring model.
Lastly, a turbo 4-cylinder should be added to mix, pushing out more horses like with the Malibu, the Sonata and the Optima.
Finally, we were disappointed with the audio system. Although it was a Bose, it seemed underpowered for the vehicle.
The Verdict: For those in need of a well-built sports-oriented, five passenger sedan with style, the Mazda6 should be on the list. Although the vehicle is only equipped with one engine, a fuel-efficient, 4-cylinder, it manages to be spirited enough to give the illusion of a 6-cylinder.
Besides a 6-speed automatic, the Mazda6 is also available with a manual transmission, making it the only one in the class to offer such. The sporty Infiniti M-like exterior design makes the vehicle a standout in the segment just like the Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion, which both offers a premium look. Added to that, the Mazda6 delivers the best drag coefficient in the segment, making the vehicle feel more like a sports sedan, especially with the BMW iDrive-like system, controlling the ventilation, navigation and audio system.
Moreover, the Mazda6 Touring, when equipped with the Technology Packages, is still one of the best buys in the segment, as it relates to price and the premium-class features. Those features range from an automatic high beam headlights to a radar-activated cruise control system to the lane departure warning system. The Mazda6 also is the last vehicle in this competitive segment to be updated.
In fact, Chevy just revamped the Malibu again this past summer, after the vehicle went through a major overhaul last year. Chevy felt forced to refresh the vehicle in order to remain competitive in this segment.
So in our opinion, Mazda has gotten it right the first time with 2015 Mazda6, offering great styling, a high level of premium content, value pricing and a perceived build quality that will surely win over a number of fans, when going head to head with its competitors.
Competition: Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and VW Passat
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him twitter/JeffCars.