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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Disclaimer: Mazda provided the 6, insurance, and one tank of gas.
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)
MRCC and FOW Package - $900.00
Soul Red Paint - $300.00