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    2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring



    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    September 12, 2013

    The name of the game in the midsize sedan class is to build something that appeals to everyone. Just look at most of the sedans on the marketplace and they are similar to one another.

    But what if an automaker decides not to follow the crowd? Go to the beat of its own drum? You would likely end up with something like the 2014 Mazda6. The new 6 is Mazda's first midsize sedan without the oversight of former parent Ford. As a result, Mazda could create the midsize sedan it wanted to. A little bit of SKYACTIV Technology, a dash of Mazda's Kodo design language, some lightness, and the fun to drive aspect the company is known for.

    But is this right move for a company which is still in a fair bit of trouble?

    In my book, the 2014 Mazda6 has to be the most gorgeous midsize sedan on sale today. The Kodo design language gives a distinctive look and identity for the vehicle. A flat front-end greets you with a five-point grille and chrome trim running along the outer edge. Along the side are a set of front fenders that flow into the front doors. A set of nineteen-inch alloy wheels come standard on Grand Touring and add a touch of class.

    sml_gallery_10485_686_59449.jpg
    I wish I could say the same for the Mazda6's interior. Much like the CX-5, the Mazda6's interior leaves a lot to be desired. Despite designers adding a piece of contrasting trim along the along the dashboard, I was wishing for a bit more. If Mazda can produce some great styling on the outside, why can't they on the inside? Materials and build quality are excellent though.

    Another problem that I have with the current crop of Mazda's is the optional navigation unit. While the maps from TomTom provide very good information, the interface is a bit ugly and dated. Throw in the fact that the head unit took thirty seconds to connect my phone up to the bluetooth system and almost two minutes for it to find my iPod, Mazda needs some serious help here.

    sml_gallery_10485_686_815122.jpg
    As for comfort and space, the Mazda6 does a decent job. Front seat passengers sit in heavily bolstered seats with heat. Back seat passengers will find a decent amount of legroom. Headroom is tight for those taller passengers.

    But.. Mazda is known for building driver's cars. So how does it drive? On to page 2!


    Under the hood is Mazda's 2.5L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic, though a six-speed manual is available on the Mazda6 Sport and Touring models. The 2.5 makes the Mazda6 feel plenty powerful. The engine's power band does require you to wring its neck somewhat (above 2,500 rpms), but you don't mind as the engine sounds very refined as it climbs in rpms. The six-speed automatic is very quick in shifts whether up or down. Also, the automatic didn't experience the stumbling problem with downshifts that I have complained about in my past CX-5 reviews.

    sml_gallery_10485_686_486594.jpg
    Fuel economy wise, the 2014 Mazda6 returns 26 City/38 Highway/30 Combined. During my week of mostly city driving, I saw an average of 28 MPG. Out of the freeway for a quick jaunt, I saw my number rise to 36 MPG.

    Mazdas are known for their fun to drive trait and the new 6 continues that. A sharp and nicely-weighted steering system, stiff chassis, and tuned suspension make the Mazda6 a very enjoyable midsize sedan to throw around. Driving on one of the test roads I use for vehicles, I found myself smiling because of how much fun I was having.

    sml_gallery_10485_686_630935.jpg
    Mazda did strike balance between sport and comfort with the new 6. The suspension copes pretty well when soaking up bumps and road imperfections. The only thing I wished Mazda did better was more sound insulation. This is very noticeable on the freeway as there is a surprising amount of road noise.

    The 2014 Mazda6 isn't for everyone and that's ok. Mazda isn't trying to go for the jugular of the midsize sedan market. Instead, they're offering a vehicle for those who want something a bit different. The 6 largely succeeds here with a fun and nimble chassis, surprising fuel economy, and very distinctive fuel economy. It does miss on interior styling, space, and sound insulation.

    The Mazda6 dares to be different. Whether this works or not remains to be seen.

    gallery_10485_686_1048629.jpg

    Disclaimer: Mazda provided the 6, insurance, and one tank of gas.

    Year: 2014

    Make: Mazda

    Model: 6

    Trim: Grand Touring

    Engine: 2.5L SKYACTIV-G Four-Cylinder

    Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission

    Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 5,700

    Torque @ RPM: 185 @ 3,250

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/38/30

    Curb Weight: 3,792 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan

    Base Price: $29,495.00

    As Tested Price: $31,490.00* (Includes $795.00 destination charge)

    Options:

    MRCC and FOW Package - $900.00

    Soul Red Paint - $300.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Awesome write up. Very enjoyable reading.

    I have to say that I like that this car does not have that freakin big ugly black smiling mouth, yet the over all style is bland and to me very uninspiring.

    The interior is just terrible with the bland dash, Pimple on the center of the steering wheel and then the white type seats that will show all the dirt in the world. Just a terrible job.

    What is up with everyone thinking the world wants 4 door Coupe style sedans? No headroom and clearly not much room period for big people like me. I suspect this will fit me like my sisters Mazda 6 which means I will not be comfortable in it and could not go on road trips. Looks like they used 5'8" as the average size to build the car for again.

    One thing noticed is that the fit and finish based on the pictures does look good. I did not find anything out of alignment or to big or small of a gap. Really consistent.

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    I like the Mazda6 and I think the company did a pretty good job with all the attention to detail and the overall designing. But yeah, the interior sounds a bit disappointing as it looks. They're going to have to up their game there.

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    nice article, agree on road noise. that was the most evident deficiency of the car when i drove it.

    also, to me, it did not seem terribly fast, but it does have good test numbers.

    I think most average drivers would prefer the Fusion over the 6 because it is more sedate. Both are equally excellent to me.

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    Excellent writing! It's a turn off to hear that it takes that long to hook up an iPod though. I might as well hook up a AUX cable and do it the old fashioned way! It does look like it does something for the long trips but it looks like it has a lot of missing things in the interior of the car. Maybe they'll improve this in their next model.

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    You people bashing the interior are laughable...the conservative styling combined with perfect ergonomics and high quality materials are exactly what people who have taste want...the huge Cylon space craft button cladded centre stack multi screened jokes car makers impose on the public are cheesy looking at best! The 6's controls are initiative and the driving position is perfect! I'm betting none of you have even been in one. Love the rubber necking Dugly Acura drivers staring at me from their overated FWD Luxo crap that costs over double what I paid for my 6 LmFAO!

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    The 6 is pretty but it's interior is a bit of a letdown. So is the fact that 185 HP is the best you can get. Prospective buyers must realize that Zoom zoom is a thing of the past for this car as far as acceleration goes and that any one of it's competitors optional turbo 4's or V6's will effortlessly dispatch this car.

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    The rumour is the in car entertainment and NAV for the CX5 and Mazda6 will get updated to similar tech as the Mazda3 within a year.

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      View full article
    • By William Maley
      There is one vehicle that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has to get right the first time - the minivan. The company is credited for creating this vehicle segment back in the eighties with the introduction of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Each subsequent version brought forth some new improvement or feature that put it ahead of the pack. But due to the bankruptcy in 2009 and subsequent merger with Fiat, plans for the next-generation Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan were pushed back. This left the old model struggling against some fresh competition in the form of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. 
      But last year, Chrysler surprised everyone with a new minivan. Wearing the Pacifica nameplate, the van was unlike anything that had come before. It featured a sleek design, handsome interior, and the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The bigger surprise was that Chrysler would be the only brand getting the new van. The Dodge Caravan would continue in its current incarnation for a few years to provide a low-cost option for those shoppers. Has Chrysler pulled a rabbit out its hat or has the unthinkable happened and the Pacifica trails the competition?
      The first thing to take in about the new Pacifica is how good-looking it is. The design comes courtesy of the 700C that debuted quietly a few years back at the Detroit Auto Show. The rounded front end is reminiscent of the recently departed 200 with a narrow grille and headlights, chrome trim along the edges of the grilles, and a sculpted hood. The side profile shows off two character lines; one running from the front fender to the chrome trim for the windows and another running through the door handles and curving into the rear fender. We would only make one slight change to the Pacifica. Our Touring L tester featured 17-inch wheels that looked a bit small for a vehicle this size. We would go for the larger 18-inch wheels that fill in the wheel wells much better.
      Anyone who has been in the last-generation Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan knows the interior was well past its sell-by date. When pitted against competitors, the two vans came up very short in terms of design, materials, space for cargo and passengers; and infotainment. Step inside the Pacifica and it is clear that Chrysler has done its homework. The design is much more modern with flowing lines and contrasting colors. It also feels more spacious than the outgoing vans thanks to some smart decisions such as the removal of the center console to allow for an open floor between driver and passenger, and the use of a knob for the transmission. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with many surfaces now boasting soft-touch plastics. It wouldn’t be crazy to say the Chrysler Pacifica is ahead of everyone when it comes to the interior.
      Depending on the trim, you can order the Pacifica with seating for seven or eight people. Our Touring L featured the eight-seat layout with a removable middle seat for the third row. It will take you a few moments to figure out how to remove the seat, but once you do, it is quite easy to remove and install the seat. The rest of the seats feature Chrysler’s Stow ’n Go folding system where the seats can fold into compartments in the floor to provide a flat load area. Cargo area is in line with the current crop of minivans with 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 140.5 cubic feet with both rows folded. As for passengers, both rows of rear seats provide an excellent amount of head and legroom. Getting into the third row is much easier thanks to second-row seats offering a tilt function.
      FCA has equipped the Pacifica with the newest version of their UConnect system. The interface may look similar to the older UConnect system, but there are a number of changes that help catapult this new version towards the top of the infotainment system list. First, the new system is much sharper thanks to the new fonts and an updated screen that provides improved brightness levels. FCA has also improved the overall performance of the system, meaning no slow downs when going between various functions. One item we cannot comment on is navigation as our test Pacifica didn’t come with it.
      Power for the Pacifica comes from the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front-wheels only. It might not be the fastest van on the road (that honor falls to the Toyota Sienna), but Pacifica comes very close. Power comes on a smooth and steady rate. You’ll find yourself not wanting more power when merging onto a freeway or trying to make a pass. FCA has seemed to get its act together with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Issues with clunky shifts and gear hunting have been mostly ironed out. The transmission now features smooth and quick upshifts. The only item we would want FCA to work on is the transmission’s hesitation to downshift in certain situations such as making a pass.
      EPA fuel economy for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is rated at 18 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. Our week mostly spent in the city returned 23.2 mpg.
      The primary concern when it comes to a van’s ride and handling characteristics is providing maximum comfort and the Pacifica delivers. The suspension delivers a smooth ride even on some of the rough roads on offer from Metro Detroit area. An added bonus is how well the Pacifica isolates road and wind noise from coming inside. At highway speeds, only a whisper of wind noise makes it inside. But the Pacifica becomes a bit of a surprise when it comes to handling. Despite its large size, FCA’s engineers made the Pacifica feel quite nimble. The steering might not give that impression as it feels somewhat light when turning. But go around a corner and the van feels more like a midsize sedan than a van. 
      It has been a long time coming for a new minivan from FCA and the good news is that they haven’t dropped the ball. The Pacifica may not have ripped up the rulebook when it comes to minivans, but it sure has expanded or rewritten bits of it. From a surprising balance of ride and handling characteristics to the best interior in the class, it is clear that FCA wants to reclaim the crown of the best minivan. But there one thing that we need to address and that is FCA’s poor reliability history. No matter which survey or study look at, more often than not, FCA’s core brands are towards the bottom. What does this mean for the Pacifica? We can’t say for right now, but this could be the one thing that makes or breaks Chrysler’s new van.
      For right now, the Pacifica is at the top of the class.
      Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Chrysler
      Model: Pacifica
      Trim: Touring L
      Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
      Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400
      Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22
      Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario
      Base Price: $34,495
      As Tested Price: $36,880 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Audio Group - $895.00
      8 Passenger Seating - $495.00
    • By William Maley
      They say timing is everything. As I mentioned in our quick drive piece of 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium, the automaker announced a refreshed version for 2017. Changes included a revised exterior, improved interior materials, and a revised EyeSight active safety system. Once we heard about the refresh, we knew we need to get one in for review. That’s what happened this past fall as a 2017 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring arrived at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage. The XT is the important bit as it means we have the turbo engine.
      Let us begin with the engine as this is one of the best points of the Forester. The XT gets a turbocharged 2.0L boxer-four producing 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and all-wheel drive. The turbo engine solves some of the issues we had in the previous Forester. The 2.5i wasn’t as responsive as we would have liked and it takes its sweet time to get up to higher speeds. With the turbo engine, the Forester leaps into action. Yes, it does a take a moment for the turbo to spool up. But once it does, the engine delivers power at a steady and smooth rate.  Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT is one of the better CVTs on the market. Part of this comes from the simulated gear changes Subaru has programmed for the CVT. This will fool most people into thinking that the transmission is a standard automatic. Also, the CVT doesn’t have much of a groan when you decide to floor the accelerator. The downside to the turbo engine is fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2.0XT stand at 23 City/27 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week was 24.7 MPG. If you’re expecting Subaru to make some changes to the suspension and/or steering for the Forester 2.0XT, then you’ll be very disappointed. The 2.0XT is the same as the 2.5i we drove earlier. That means a smooth ride over some of the worst roads Michigan has on offer, but a fair amount of body roll when going around a corner.  Changes for the 2017 Forester’s exterior include a new grille design, LED accent lights for the head and taillights; and a new set of wheels. The XT also gets a more aggressive front bumper. While the Forester is still a box, at least the changes have made it a bit more stylish. The interior remains mostly unchanged when compared to the 2016 model. The only change we noted is the option of brown leather for the XT Touring that is used for the seats and various parts of the dash and doors. It is a nice touch, but it would have been nice if Subaru had gone a bit further with the luxury touches - especially considering the price of our tester. Subaru has upgraded their EyeSight system for 2017 by installing a new set of color stereo cameras. Subaru says the new cameras allow better detection of various objects and a wider range of monitoring. We believe it as the updated system was able to detect vehicles slightly faster than the previous system when using the adaptive cruise control system. There is one big issue for the 2017 Forester 2.0XT Touring, price. The base price is $34,295. Equipped with an option package that brings a larger screen for the Starlink infotainment system, EyeSight, and reverse automatic braking, the as-tested price comes to $36,765. Taking into consideration for what you get for the price, the Forester 2.0XT Touring isn’t worth it considering you can get into some luxury crossovers for around the same price. You can get the Forester 2.0XT in the Premium trim which kicks off at $29,295, but you cannot get EyeSight as an option. If you really want a Forester with a turbo engine, wait for 2.0XT Touring to hit the used car lot as it will become a slightly better value. Otherwise, skip the 2.0XT and go with the Forester 2.5i or another crossover. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Forester 2.0XT Touring, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Subaru
      Model: Forester
      Trim: 2.0XT Touring
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC GDI Boxer-Four
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 2,000 - 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/27/25
      Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: OTA, Gunma, Japan
      Base Price: $34,295
      As Tested Price: $36,765 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Option Package 34 - $1,595.00

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