2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring: Heard It Through the Grapevine
April 21, 2009
I took a quick trip from Los Angeles to Fresno over the weekend in our long-term 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring. I've written before that I find our car's 168-hp (not 170, as it's a PZEV), 2.5-liter four-cylinder adequate. But during the drive, I decided I really would not want to own a Mazda 6 with this engine.
Even by four-cylinder standards, this engine is light on low-end torque. Its peak of 166 pound-feet doesn't hit until 4,000 rpm and it feels like a steep climb to get there. Scaling the southbound stretch of the Interstate 5 "Grapevine," the tach was pegged at 4,000 rpm in my quest to keep a 75-to-80-mph pace.
It's not that I mind revving this high, mind you. But whereas the Honda Accord's 2.4-liter engine is comfortable and free-revving at these heights, Mazda's 2.5-liter is noisy and somewhat strained. This is not an athletic-feeling engine and not in keeping with the car's or the brand's sporty image.
The upside to this experience was the five-speed automatic transmission. This automatic is quick with downshifts and, as long as you're steady on throttle, it holds those gears for as long as needed. When I was cruising at 4,000, it was holding onto third gear.
And other than the mediocre engine performance, the Mazda 6 was a fine road trip car. All 6s, four-cylinder and V6, have an 18.5-gallon fuel tank -- thus providing incredible range in the four-cylinder car. I put in 13.640 gallons after 347.9 miles of driving (for 25.5 mpg), but I easily could have stretched that past 400.
Wind and road noise levels in the cabin are not exactly calming, but they're average for the midsize sedan class. And both my boyfriend and I found the front seats comfortable and supportive for three hours of driving.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 9,951 miles