Comparison Test: 2009 Mazda 6 vs. 2008 Honda Accord vs. 2008 Nissan Altima

2009 Mazda Mazda6 Sedan

(3.7L V6 6-speed Automatic)
  • 2009 Mazda 6 vs. 2008 Honda Accord vs. 2008 Nissan Altima Comparison Test Video

    Watch the 2009 Mazda 6 vs. 2008 Honda Accord vs. 2008 Nissan Altima Comparison Test Video on Edmunds' Inside Line | September 25, 2009

1 Video , 37 Photos

  • Comparison Test
  • Second Opinion
  • Top 10 Features
  • Data and Charts
  • Final Rankings and Scoring Explanation
  • 2009 Mazda Mazda6 Specs and Performance
  • 2008 Honda Accord Specs and Performance
  • 2008 Nissan Altima Specs and Performance

Our recent test of the 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring showed us that Mazda can still offer sporting dynamics in its all-new family sedan, even while providing more room, more features and more power. We were concerned that the sporting spirit of the last-generation, fun-but-snug Mazda 6 might have been lost in the search for commercial success, but we came away believing this new car still has that zoom-zoom thing.

Like Mazda, we believe a family sedan can be lively as well as practical. So to gauge the way in which the 2009 Mazda 6 fits into the new world of family sedans, we figured a comparison is in order. A 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring would be our starting point.

Then we enlisted the 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE with its continuously variable automatic transmission. It's the car that most people consider to be the sportiest in this category, matched with a transmission that shatters all expectations about CVTs. (We know this car is available with a manual transmission, but we also know the CVT is a better choice. Trust us.)

The all-new 2008 Honda Accord is the standard of the category, the winner of our last comparison test of family sedans. A 2008 Honda Accord EX-L Navi matched up nicely. Hailed for its value, refinement and excellent quality, the well-mannered Accord would challenge the Mazda's practical abilities.

And so we began our family sedan comparison test, and we're wondering how far the Mazda 6's fun-o-meter has swung away from "I could use a Red Bull" toward "My adrenal gland is sore and I need to grow up."

Motivating V6s
This is the top-of-the-line 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring model, and it features the most power in our test courtesy of its 272-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 nicked from the Mazda CX-9 crossover. At the drag strip, this engine helped the 3,596-pound Mazda 6 dash to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds (6.2 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip). This makes the heaviest car of this trio the quickest, as the 3,590-pound Accord takes 7.5 seconds to get to 60 mph (7.2 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and the 3,399-pound Altima takes 7.0 seconds to do the task (6.6 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip). The Mazda V6's power delivery is smooth and broad, and this is the only engine of these three that feels fast from the first exploratory run up the tachometer.

Our fuel-economy logbook surprisingly shows the Mazda to be the easiest on fuel, and our observed average of 20 mpg exactly matches this car's EPA rating for combined average mpg. Perhaps because this 3.7-liter V6 offers the highest torque at the lowest rpm, the Mazda 6 doesn't have to be driven as aggressively as the Accord or Altima to get the job done. The Accord's 268-hp 3.5-liter V6 managed only 18 mpg in our hands, while the Altima's 270-hp 3.5-liter V6 recorded just 17 mpg. (The Altima V6 also requires premium fuel.)

In terms of real power, the Mazda 6 went through the quarter-mile in 14.7 seconds at 95.6 mph, while the Accord did the task in 15.6 seconds at 91.0 mph and the Altima did 15.0 seconds at 95.2 mph.

Shifting for You
The Mazda's six-speed automatic transmission can be shifted manually for added control or exhilaration, and the shifts are crisp and positive. This is a better-than-average automatic from Japan, but we're hoping that one day the Mazda 6 might incorporate a transmission that would deliver a throttle blip to match revs during downshifts for an even more sporting feel.

In comparison, the five-speed automatic of the Honda isn't really programmed to do much more than "Drive." It allows a downshift to 3rd, but there's no way to manually select 4th gear. It might be the Honda Way, but it's a mystery to us.

The 2008 Nissan Altima features a CVT that combines the best of both worlds with six discreet ratios that can be manually selected, and a carefully optimized Drive mode. What the CVT does — and this one does it very well — is resolve what the best ratio and/or rpm is for the desired effect, be it acceleration or highway cruising. Our experience has shown that only when such a transmission is combined with a torque-rich engine (like this V6 in the Altima) is a CVT preferable to a traditional automatic with discreet gears. This combination helps the Altima accelerate truly seamlessly, and the transmission always seems in lockstep with the driver's intent.

Riding and Handling
The enduring goodness of the BMW 3 Series has shown that a well-sorted version of a simple strut-type independent front suspension can be made to work very well. The Nissan Altima uses this configuration, and mostly to good effect. We've often lauded the Altima for its crisp handling, but have also criticized it for its flinty, stiff-legged ride. This Altima hasn't changed our minds.

The 2008 Honda Accord and 2009 Mazda 6 both feature double-wishbone independent front suspension and score significantly higher than the Altima for their smoother, more isolated rides. The most noticeable differences arise over really rough, broken pavement, where the Altima's suspension crashes and booms, and even shakes the steering column. The Accord performs somewhat better, while the Mazda remains poised and sure-footed, though busy.

Our test track results also prove the Mazda 6 the best handler, as its 0.81g on the skid pad represents the most stick and its 66.4-mph run through the slalom leads the pack. The sharp-handling Altima musters 0.79g and 65.9 mph in the same tests, while the Accord records an admirable 0.80g combined with a pedestrian 63.3 mph.

The Mazda 6 loses a few points in road noise, where its wide, 18-inch Michelin tires produce high-frequency tread clamor that's especially sensitive to certain surfaces. The Honda and Nissan, on the other hand, are saddled with wind and engine noise. So when our sound-level meter showed that all three of these cars produce near-identical results at 70 mph, we weren't surprised.

Interior and Packaging
Assigning scores to a car's interior design is a largely subjective exercise, but there are elements and systems in each of these three sedans that deserve special attention.

Combining a traditional three-box silhouette with relatively thin C-pillars, the Honda offers better outward visibility than the more fastback shapes of the Mazda and Nissan. Compared to the Mazda and Nissan, the Honda driver sits higher and the cabin feels open and spacious. To counter this deficiency in visibility, the Mazda 6 features an effective, unobtrusive blind-spot warning system, while the Nissan has a back-up camera included in the optional navigation system.

The dashboards of these three cars offer either too little or too much. The Accord EX-L Navi groups its controls for the audio, navigation and ventilation systems in logical places, but there are so many buttons that it requires either thorough pre-flight study or too much on-the-fly attention to navigate the myriad buttons, displays, knobs and dials. The Nissan Altima's stark dash couldn't be simpler to operate or understand, but in this base-model version, the ventilation system doesn't offer automatic or dual-zone functions, and the radio features push-button manual tuning. Taking a lesson from each, the Mazda 6's contemporary-looking dash offers all the functionality of the Honda (minus the optional navigation system in this car), with the intuitiveness of the Nissan. It's nice to see a new design with some ideas that actually make some sense.

Honda's strong suit continues to be the ergonomics of the control layout and the tactile feel of all the buttons. The Mazda is a very close 2nd, while the aging Nissan is in dire need of some fresh ideas and upgrades. Granted, the Nissan is at a slight disadvantage here without a leather package, but to get leather requires ordering the $4,200 Premium package that adds a long list of other items you might not want or need.

Seating Matters
Both the top-line 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring and 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE come with smart keys that can remain in your pocket or purse to unlock/lock and start the vehicle. It's a nice touch we appreciate and hope the trend proliferates in the segment. All three sedans feature large front doors, making ingress and egress about equal among them. Once seated, however, you'll discover divergent missions in the seating choices each has made.

The Nissan's wide seats will accommodate a wide range of driver physiques, while the deep, aggressively bolstered buckets in the Mazda are clearly intended to support an enthusiast's frame. Somewhere in the middle, the Accord offers good support within its medium-size buckets. All the steering wheels here are adjustable for rake and reach, so a good driving position can be found.

When it comes to the rear seats, the same philosophies carry through, although the Altima gets demerits for a lower ceiling and squishy (though large) seats. It's also curious that not one of these three top-line sedans was equipped with rear vents for the climate control.

Junk in the Trunk
Popping the trunk in each (only the Honda doesn't offer an exterior touch-pad release), we were pleased to find the Mazda offers the largest and most useful cargo area. It was also the only one to use scissor hinges, which don't intrude into the cargo space. The Mazda 6 offers 16.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity, the Altima has 15.3 cubic feet and the Accord has 14.0 cubic feet.

These trunks are all shaped very differently. The lumpy, oddly configured Accord trunk can be expanded by folding down the one-piece rear seatback (although there's a narrow pass-through), while the Mazda and Nissan offer convenient 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks.

All three of these cars carry small donut-style spare tires to maximize trunk room. Each trunk includes a cargo light, but none is equipped with an electrical power point.

Hitting the Sweet Spot
After all the poking, prodding, driving and scoring, the $30,690 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring earns a total of 70.3 points in our comparison for a 1st-place finish. Second place goes to the $30,930 2008 Honda Accord EX-L Navi with 66.3 points. To level the playing field, we weighted as-tested prices as 20 percent of the final score just like the feature content, but even with a sizable price advantage, this $27,275 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE CVT couldn't make up for its missing features that are standard equipment on its rivals, including Bluetooth connection, dual-zone climate control, electronic stability control and leather upholstery.

Although some might complain that the new, larger 2009 Mazda 6 has lost some of the sport sedan flavor of its predecessor, a comparison with the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Mazdaspeed 6 we last tested shows the '09 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring is only slightly less capable, yet far more livable.

The Mazda 6 has, indeed, found that sweet spot between the well-designed, highly competent and yet somewhat generic Honda Accord and the more highly strung yet modestly priced Nissan Altima. The Mazda 6 combines both sense and sensibility, and it does so with a style that inspires comparison to cars further up the evolutionary scale like the Acura TSX or Nissan Maxima.

We've always believed that a family sedan can still be fun to drive, and it's great to discover that Mazda thinks so, too.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Senior Editor Erin Riches says:
I still smile whenever I see someone driving a first-generation (2003-'08) Mazda 6. That car was so well packaged. It wasn't the biggest or the most powerful of the midsize sedans, but it was roomy enough to be useful to a small family and Mazda's engineers worked wonders on the Ford-sourced Duratec V6. More important, the chassis was tuned to a level of sportiness rarely ventured in this class. And the bodywork matched that personality; one look and you knew the 6 would save you from a boring commute. Quite a few times it talked me into taking a back-roads detour.

This North America-only 2009 Mazda 6 doesn't feel much like the original 6, yet it's my favorite of these sedans. I find this a bit hard to explain. This Mazda 6 with its Accord-like proportions is definitely not a sport sedan, and I don't even like the way it looks. Yet for all its hugeness, the Mazda has a European blend of chassis refinement and liveliness that the others can't match. It rides firmly on the highway, but feels expertly damped over any kind of bump or expansion joint. Take it through a corner at moderate speed and it offers you this thing called steering feedback — maybe not so much as you remember from the old 6, but more than either the Nissan Altima or Honda Accord give you.

I also like the alert shifts from the Mazda's six-speed automatic and the 3.7-liter V6's big torque band, but given the choice, I'd always prefer the more personable 3.5-liter V6 in the Nissan along with its surprisingly effective CVT sidekick. Nor is there any question that the Honda has the best interior of these sedans, both from the standpoint of materials quality and ergonomic design. And while I'm a bit annoyed by the cut-rate plastics visible from the Mazda's driver seat, it's here that I feel most at home. The seat conforms to my frame, the steering wheel fits perfectly in my hands, and the red-and-blue instrumentation glows softly in the gathering night. I'm not going for a commute in this car. I'm going for a drive.

While some of the following 10 features do, indeed, enhance the driving experience, others are included merely to demonstrate the differences in each car's standard and optional equipment packages.

Honda runs around its backhand in this category by saying that, among other items, leather seats, navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate controls and a moonroof are standard equipment on the top-line Accord "EX-L Navi" model. We all know you can, in fact, configure an Accord sedan without these items, so they are, in effect, all optional. There are 13 distinct model configurations for the Accord, ranging in price from $20K-$30K.

Mazda has adopted a nearly identical strategy for the 10-model Mazda 6 lineup, from the $18,550 "i SV" model to the $28,260 "s Grand Touring" model.

The Altima, on the other hand, is offered in six models with a hierarchy of optional equipment packages, and bundled features within them. Had we ordered the Altima 3.5 SE's $4,200 Premium package, the car would've included the following: foglights, power-sliding glass moonroof with tilt feature, rear spoiler, leather-appointed seats and door trim, heated front seats, driver's power-adjustable lumbar support, high-intensity discharge (HID) xenon projector headlights, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, Bose audio system with AM/FM stereo, in-dash six-CD changer, nine speakers, XM Satellite Radio, MP3/WMA CD playback capability, speed-sensitive volume control, Radio Data Service (RDS), dual-zone automatic temperature control (ATC), in-cabin microfilter, rear passenger vents, HomeLink universal transceiver, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror with compass, leather-wrapped shift knob and illuminated center console. The Premium package also requires ordering the $900 (VDC) Vehicle Dynamic Control package that includes an electronic stability control system and a full-size spare tire.

Here's a chart to help sort apples from kittens.

Features

Features
2008 Honda Accord EX-L w/Navi 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
18-inch wheels N/A S N/A
Bluetooth connectivity S S O*
Dual-zone climate control S S O*
Electronic stability control (ESC) S S O*
Leather seats S S O*
Navigation system S O* O*
Power moonroof S O O
Satellite radio S O O*
Smart key access/starting O* S S
Xenon headlamps N/A S O*

*option available but not present on test car

Key:
S: Standard
O: Optional and present on test vehicle
O*: Optional but not present on test vehicle
N/A: Not Available

18-inch wheels: Performance enhancement or merely for show, 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels aren't available on the Accord or Altima, but are standard on the Mazda 6 s Grand Touring.

Bluetooth connectivity: Bluetooth provides a way to connect and exchange information between devices such as mobile phones and car audio systems over a secure, globally unlicensed short-range radio frequency. It's standard on both the Honda Accord EX-L Navi and Mazda 6 s Grand Touring, optional on the Altima.

Dual-zone climate control: Men and women have widely divergent thermostats and a dual-zone climate control system is one of the paths to marital harmony. It's standard on both the Honda and Mazda, and, you guessed it, part of the Altima's Premium package.

Electronic stability control (ESC): This technology can help prevent bad things from happening (such as the car going off the road) by automatically and selectively applying the brakes to whichever wheel(s) the computer brain deems necessary to correct oversteer (fishtailing) and understeer (plowing). It can't, however, repeal the laws of physics. It's hard to imagine that stability control is not standard on a car as popular as the Altima, but it's not.

Leather seats: This is where the relatively low price of the Nissan Altima begins to show. Leather seats are standard on both the Accord EX-L (that's what the L means) and Mazda 6 s Grand Touring. One must order the Premium package for the Altima to get leather seats.

Navigation system: You can get a pretty trick hard-drive-based nav system in a Mitsubishi Lancer these days. A DVD-based system is standard on the Accord EX-L Navi (designating the navigation system), and optional on both the Mazda and Nissan.

Power moonroof: Pretty self-explanatory, but a power tilt-slide glass moonroof is standard on the Accord EX-L Navi, and optionally included in the Mazda's Moonroof & Bose Package and within the Altima's Sport package (as our test car was) or Premium package.

Satellite radio: Satellite radio is here to stay. It might cost a few bucks a month, but it offers a better variety of programming than traditional terrestrial radio and offers distinct categories from which to choose. And unlike your favorite AM or FM station, the same satellite radio stations come in loud and clear from coast to coast. Satellite radio is standard on the Accord EX-L Navi, and optionally included within the Mazda 6's Moonroof & Bose Package and within the Nissan Altima's Premium Package.

Smart key access/starting: Like steering-wheel audio controls once were a feature that made you say, "Wow, I wish every car had these" feature, so, too, are these so-called smart keys. From the linty bottom of your pocket or purse, they communicate with the car to allow unlocking/locking and even starting the car without digging or pressing an illegible button on the key itself. A smart key is standard on the Mazda 6 s Grand Touring and Nissan Altima 3.5 SE, and optional but not included on the Accord EX-L Navi.

Xenon headlamps: Continuous short-arc, high-pressure xenon arc lamps have a color temperature closely approximating noon-time sunlight and are used in, among other things, automotive HID headlamps. They're not currently available on the Accord, but are standard on the Mazda 6 s Grand Touring and optional on an Altima within the Premium package.

Dimensions
Engine & Transmission Specifications
Warranty Information
Performance Information
Fuel Economy
Safety Information


Dimensions

Exterior Dimensions & Capacities
2008 Honda Accord EX-L w/Navi 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
Length, in. 194.3 193.7 189.8
Width, in. 72.2 72.4 70.7
Height, in. 58.1 57.9 57.9
Wheelbase, in. 110.2 109.8 109.3
Track width, f/r, in. 62.2/62.2 62.4/62.4 61.0/61.0
Curb weight as-tested, lb. 3,590 3,596 3,399
Turning Circle, ft. 37.7 35.4 37.4
Tire size P225/50R17 P235/45ZR18 P215/55R17
Wheel type Cast Alum Cast Alum Cast Alum
Interior Dimensions
2008 Honda Accord EX-L w/Navi 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
Front headroom, in. 39.0 38.1 40.6
Rear headroom, in. 37.2 37.3 36.8
Front shoulder room, in. 58.2 57.3 55.7
Rear shoulder room, in. 56.4 56.5 55.5
Front legroom, in. 42.5 42.5 42.2
Rear legroom, in. 37.2 38.0 34.5
EPA Cargo Volume, cu. ft. 14.0 16.6 15.3

Engine & Transmission Specifications

Engine & Transmission
2008 Honda Accord EX-L w/Navi 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
Displacement
(cc / cu-in):
3471 (212) 3726 (227) 3498 (213)
Engine Type 60-degree V6 60-degree V6 60-degree V6
Horsepower (SAE) @ rpm 268 @ 6,200 272 @ 6,250 270 @ 6,000
Max. Torque, lb-ft @ rpm 248 @ 5,000 269 @ 4,250 258 @ 4,400
Transmission 5-speed auto 6-speed auto Continuously variable auto

Warranty

Warranty Information
2008 Honda Accord EX-L w/Navi 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
Basic Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain 5 years/60,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Roadside Assistance Not available 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Corrosion Protection 5 years/Unlimited miles 5 years/Unlimited miles 5 years/Unlimited miles

Performance Information

Performance Information
2008 Honda Accord EX-L w/Navi 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
0-60 mph acceleration, sec. 7.5 6.5 7.0
Quarter-mile acceleration, sec. 15.6 14.7 15.0
Quarter-mile speed, mph 91.0 95.6 95.2
60-0-mph braking, feet 130 126 129
Lateral Acceleration, g 0.80 0.81 0.79
600-ft slalom, mph 63.3 66.4 65.9

Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy
2008 Honda Accord EX-L w/Navi 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
Fuel tank capacity, gal. 18.5 18.5 20.0
Recommended fuel Regular Regular Premium
EPA fuel economy City mpg 19.0 17.0 19.0
EPA fuel economy Hwy mpg 29.0 25.0 26.0
EPA fuel economy Combined mpg 22.0 20.0 22.0
EPA fuel economy Combined & Converted (gal-per-100 mi) 4.5 5.0 4.5
Observed fuel economy Edmunds combined mpg 18.0 20.0 17.0
Estimated fuel consumption Gallons per Year (15k miles) 682 750 682
Estimated fuel cost at the end of five years (75k miles) $13,687 N/A $14,587

Safety Information

Safety Information
2008 Honda Accord EX-L w/Navi 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
Front Airbags Standard Standard Standard
Side Airbags Standard dual front Standard dual front Standard dual front
Head Airbags Standard front and rear curtain Standard front and rear curtain Standard front and rear curtain
Antilock Brakes 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS
Traction Control Standard Standard Standard
Stability Control Standard Standard Optional
Tire Pressure Monitoring Direct measurement Direct measurement Direct measurement
NHTSA Frontal Crash, Driver 5 stars Being Researched 5 stars
NHTSA Frontal Crash, Passenger 5 stars Being Researched 5 stars
NHTSA Side Crash, Front Pass. 5 stars Being Researched 5 stars
NHTSA Side Crash, Rear Pass. 3 stars Being Researched 5 stars
NHTSA Rollover Resistance 5 stars Being Researched 4 stars
IIHS Offset Crash Good Being Researched Good

Final Rankings

Final Rankings
Item Weight 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring 2008 Honda Accord EX-L w/Navi 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE
Personal Rating 2.5% 100.0 50.0 50.0
Recommended Rating 2.5% 83.3 83.3 33.3
Evaluation Score 20% 79.4 75.9 74.7
Feature Content 20% 86.7 73.3 40.0
Performance 15% 100.0 85.1 93.9
Fuel Consumption 20% 90.0 100.0 100.0
Price 20% 87.5 86.6 100.0
Total Score 100.0% 88.3 83.3 79.1
Final Ranking 1 2 3

Personal rating (2.5%): Purely subjective. After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the vehicles in order of preference based on which he or she would buy if money were no object.

Recommended rating (2.5%): After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the vehicles in order of preference based on which he or she thought would be best for the average consumer shopping in this segment. In other words, which vehicle the editors would recommend to a family member.

31-point evaluation (20%): Each participating editor ranked every vehicle based on a comprehensive 31-point evaluation. The evaluation covered everything from exterior design to steering performance to button-stroke and knob-sandiness. Scoring was calculated on a point system, and the scores listed are averages based on all test participants' evaluations.

Feature content (20%): For this category, the editors picked the top 10 features they thought would be most beneficial to the consumer shopping in this segment. For each vehicle, the score was based on the amount of actual features it had versus the total possible (10). Standard, optional-and-included, optional-and-not-included, and unavailable equipment were all taken into consideration. We did not include equipment common to all three vehicles, such as ABS brakes.

Performance testing (15%): Because these three cars exist primarily as range-toppers with relatively powerful V6 engines (all are also available with four-cylinder engines), we chose to endow this category with an appropriate influence on selecting a winner. All the usual instrumented tests were performed and weighted appropriately.

Fuel consumption (20%): Fuel consumption is an important purchase motivation, especially considering the volatile cost of fuel. Using EPA combined fuel economy ratings as the basis for comparison, we awarded a score of 100 percent to the most fuel-efficient vehicle. The less-efficient vehicles were scored proportionally based on how close they came to the better-performing vehicle's fuel consumption. Note: Only in the Nissan Altima 3.5 SE does the manufacturer recommend premium fuel.

Price (20%): The numbers listed were the result of a simple percentage calculation based on the least expensive vehicle in the comparison test. Using the "as tested" prices of the actual evaluation vehicles, the least expensive vehicle received a score of 100, with the remaining vehicles receiving lesser scores based on how much each one costs. We weighted this category identically to the Feature content category to offset a minimally equipped vehicle's relatively low price.

Vehicle
Model year2009
MakeMazda
ModelMazda6
Styles Grand Touring 4dr Sedan (3.7L 6cyl 6A)
Base MSRP$28,930
Options on test vehicleMoonroof & Bose Package (includes Bose 10-speaker sound system, 333 watts with amplified subwoofer with six-disc, in-dash, MP3-compatible CD changer, Sirius Satellite Radio receiver, and one-touch open and close moonroof with global open/close function).
As-tested MSRP$30,690
Drivetrain
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Engine type60-degree V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3,726cc (227 cu-in)
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable intake-valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)10.3
Redline (rpm)6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)272 @ 6,250
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)269 @ 4,250
Transmission type6-speed automatic
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)I = 4.148, II = 2.370, III = 1.555, IV = 1.154, V = 0.859, VI =0.685 , FD = 3.329, R = 3.393
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, double wishbones, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Steering typeEngine-speed-proportional hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)16.2:1
Tire brandMichelin
Tire modelHXMXM4
Tire typeAll-season
Tire size, frontP235/45ZR18 94W
Tire size, rearP235/45ZR18 94W
Wheel size18 by 8.0 inches front -- 18 by 8.0 inches rear
Wheel materialAluminum alloy
Brakes, front11.8-inch ventilated disc
Brakes, rear11.0-inch disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)4.4
0-60 mph (sec.)6.5
0-75 mph (sec.)9.4
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)14.7 @ 95.6
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)6.2
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)30
60-0 mph (ft.)126
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)66.4
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.81
Sound level @ idle (dB)44.1
@ Full throttle (dB)80.1
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)67.1
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsBest run: Mild brake torque, and manual shifting with moderate wheelspin through 1st gear. Manual shift mode required because Drive will upshift to kill wheelspin. Engine makes ample power and shifts are quick.
Braking ratingGood
Braking commentsStraight, confident stops with firm pedal feel. No fade, but this still isn't impressively "zoom-zoom."
Handling ratingGood
Handling commentsLess steering weight than I'd like (Mazda 3's EPS is even better), and too much body roll for a Mazda. Still, it has better directional control than most competitors. In the slalom, the Mazda 6 shows good pace, but isn't as easy to predict or place with its slightly muted responses due to the body roll.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)85.9
Wind (mph, direction)5 SW
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)17 city/25 highway/20 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)14 worst/30 best/20 combined average
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)18.5
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,547
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,596
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)62 / 38
Length (in.)193.7
Width (in.)72.4
Height (in.)57.9
Wheelbase (in.)109.8
Track, front (in.)62.4
Track, rear (in.)62.4
Turning circle (ft.)35.4
Legroom, front (in.)42.5
Legroom, rear (in.)38
Headroom, front (in.)39.4 (38.1 with moonroof)
Headroom, rear (in.)37.3 (same with moonroof)
Shoulder room, front (in.)57.3
Shoulder room, rear (in.)56.5
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)16.6
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)Standard 60/40 split-fold seats, no volume provided
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance3 years/36,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Knee airbagsNot available
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsElectronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot available
Tire-pressure monitoring systemStandard tire pressure monitoring
Emergency assistance systemStandard blind-spot warning
NHTSA crash test, driverNot tested
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot tested
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot tested
Vehicle
Model year2008
MakeHonda
ModelAccord
StyleEX-L V-6 4dr Sedan w/Navigation (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
Base MSRP$30,930
Options on test vehicleLeather, Moonroof, Audio Upgrade and Navigation included in "EX-L w/Navi" Trim Designation
As-tested MSRP$30,930
Drivetrain
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Engine type60-degree V6 with cylinder deactivation
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3,471 (212)
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainSOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable intake- and exhaust-valve timing and lift
Compression ratio (x:1)10.5
Redline (rpm)6,800
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)268 @ 6,200
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)248 @ 5,000
Transmission type5-speed automatic
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)I = 2.697, II = 1.606, III = 1.071, IV = 0.766, V = 0.612, FD = 4.312, R = 1.889
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, double wishbones, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Steering typeEngine speed-proportional hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion power steering
Tire brandMichelin
Tire modelPilot HXMXM4
Tire typeAll-season
Tire size, frontP225/50R17 93V
Tire size, rearP225/50R17 93V
Wheel size17 by 7.5 inches front -- 17 by 7.5 inches rear
Wheel materialAluminum alloy
Brakes, front11.8-inch ventilated disc
Brakes, rear11.1-inch solid disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)5
0-60 mph (sec.)7.5
0-75 mph (sec.)11.2
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)15.6 @ 91.0
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)31
60-0 mph (ft.)130
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)63.3
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.8
Sound level @ idle (dB)44.7
@ Full throttle (dB)73.1
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)67.3
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsDecidedly weak powertrain compared to many competitors. Modest low-rpm torque barely spins tires off the line. Shifts feel smooth but slow and occur before redline. No manual shift gate to use (and no way to select 4th either).
Braking ratingAverage
Braking commentsBrake pedal feel and response remained consistent in 60-0 test, but (later) when slowing after only a few quarter-mile runs, the steering wheel began to shake and shudder while slowing from 90 mph.
Handling ratingAverage
Handling commentsSkid pad: Steering lacks effort buildup and isn't as communicative as I'd like. A little too much like a video game. Slalom: Decent control despite soft roll stiffness and cushy damping. Overall, not bad, but also not sporty.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)86.6
Wind (mph, direction)4 NW
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)19 city/29 highway/22 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)16 worst/23 best/18 combined average
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)18.5
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,616
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,590
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)62/38
Length (in.)194.3
Width (in.)72.7
Height (in.)58.1
Wheelbase (in.)110.2
Track, front (in.)62.2
Track, rear (in.)62.2
Turning circle (ft.)37.7
Legroom, front (in.)42.5
Legroom, rear (in.)37.2
Headroom, front (in.)39
Headroom, rear (in.)37.2
Shoulder room, front (in.)58.2
Shoulder room, rear (in.)56.4
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)14
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)One-piece folding seatback, no volume supplied
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistanceNot available
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Knee airbagsNot available
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBrake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot available
Tire-pressure monitoring systemStandard tire-pressure monitoring
Emergency assistance systemNot available
NHTSA crash test, driver5 stars
NHTSA crash test, passenger5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side front5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side rear3 stars
NHTSA rollover resistance5 stars
Vehicle
Model year2008
MakeNissan
ModelAltima
Style3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl CVT)
Base MSRP$25,665
Options on test vehicleSport Package (includes power glass sliding moonroof with tilt feature, front foglights and rear spoiler); Splash Guards; Floor/Trunk Mat Set With Trunk Hooks.
As-tested MSRP$27,275
Drivetrain
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Engine type60-degree V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3,498cc (213 cu-in)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)270 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)258 @ 4,400
Transmission typeContinuously variable automatic
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)2.371 to 0.439, FD = 5.173, R = 1.766
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Steering typeEngine speed-proportional hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)16.2
Tire brandBridgestone
Tire modelTuranza EL400
Tire typeAll-season
Tire size, frontP215/55R17 98V
Tire size, rearP215/55R17 98V
Wheel size17 by 7.5 inches front -- 17 by 7.5 inches rear
Wheel materialAluminum alloy
Brakes, front11.7-inch ventilated disc
Brakes, rear11.5-inch solid disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)4.9
0-60 mph (sec.)7
0-75 mph (sec.)9.6
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)15.0 @ 95.2
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)6.6
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)31
60-0 mph (ft.)129
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)65.9
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.79
Sound level @ idle (dB)41.7
@ Full throttle (dB)73.6
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)66.2
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsThis powertrain is less impressive on a drag strip than it is in daily driving. The CVT ramps up the revs and they hang there for the entire quarter-mile. Best run was with traction control on.
Braking ratingAverage
Braking commentsNo complaints here. Solid, firm and responsive pedal with straight stops every time.
Handling ratingGood
Handling commentsSkid pad: Artificially heavy steering is a bit odd in this sedan, but it does offer more feedback than either the Accord or Mazda 6. Slalom: Noticeably firm roll stiffness makes the Altima the sportiest-feeling of the bunch, yet it cannot match the pace of the Mazda cone-for-cone.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)83.6
Wind (mph, direction)4 NW
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)19 city/26 highway/22 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)15 worst/20 best/17 combined average
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)20
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,360
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,399
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)62/38
Length (in.)189.8
Width (in.)70.7
Height (in.)57.9
Wheelbase (in.)109.3
Track, front (in.)61
Track, rear (in.)61
Turning circle (ft.)37.4
Legroom, front (in.)42.2
Legroom, rear (in.)34.5
Headroom, front (in.)40.6
Headroom, rear (in.)36.8
Shoulder room, front (in.)55.7
Shoulder room, rear (in.)55.5
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)15.3
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)Standard 60/40 split-fold seat, no volume specified
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance3 years/36,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Knee airbagsNot available
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBraking assist, electronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlOptional
Rollover protectionNot available
Tire-pressure monitoring systemStandard tire pressure monitoring
Emergency assistance systemNot available
NHTSA crash test, driver5 stars
NHTSA crash test, passenger5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side front5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side rear5 stars
NHTSA rollover resistance4 stars
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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2009 Mazda Mazda6 in VA is:

$130 per month*
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