Full 2013 Mazda MAZDA6 Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Mazda 6 sees no significant changes other than gaining 18-inch wheels for the i Touring Plus and i Grand Touring. The s Touring Plus trim level has been discontinued.
As the 2013 Mazda 6 shows, practical needn't be synonymous with boring. With its aggressively sculpted sheet metal and agile driving dynamics, this is one of the more fun-loving choices in the family-sedan class. A comfortable cabin and attractive pricing further this car's appeal in a segment rife with solid choices.
Staying true to Mazda's philosophy of providing an engaging driving experience, the Mazda 6 boasts one of the best driving positions in the segment, with relatively high seat placement that affords an expansive view of the road. The 6's handling is sharper than most of its competitors, and its buttoned-down chassis results in a ride quality that feels more European than Japanese. Other benefits of this Mazda include a spacious interior and a large trunk.
This amiable sedan does have a few demerits, the most notable ones being subpar fuel economy and some cheap plastic trim within the cabin. More importantly, however, the 6 is one of the oldest models in its class, and newer and fresher rivals will probably hold greater sway. The strong-performing 2013 Hyundai Sonata is a favorite of ours, as is its handsome Kia Optima cousin -- both come with many unexpected standard features for their low price tags. Those looking for European styling and refinement should consider the Volkswagen Passat. If it's fuel economy you want, the well-rounded Toyota Camry is a great choice. Nor does the Mazda 6 corner the market on sportiness -- both the 2013 Ford Fusion and 2013 Nissan Altima have been redesigned this year and promise to deliver engaging handling.
You certainly can't go wrong picking the 2013 Mazda 6, especially if you enjoy driving. But looking at the competitors before settling on the 6 is a wise idea.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Mazda 6 is available in five trim levels: i Sport, i Touring, i Touring Plus, i Grand Touring and s Grand Touring. Those with the "i" prefix come with the four-cylinder engine, while models with the "s" prefix come with the V6.
The i Sport comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlamps, a manually height-adjustable driver seat, full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker CD sound system with an auxiliary audio jack.
The i Touring model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a trip computer, a power driver seat (with manual lumbar support), an in-dash six-CD changer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, upgraded interior trim and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Opting for the i Touring Plus will get you 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, a blind-spot monitoring system, electroluminescent instrument gauges and outside mirrors with integrated turn signals. The i Grand Touring model further adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a multi-information display and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system. The s Grand Touring is similar to the i Grand Touring except for the powertrain.
We expect one of the more popular options will be the Technology package, which is available for Grand Touring models. It includes automatic xenon headlights, automatic wipers, heated outside mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, auto-dimming rearview and driver-side mirrors, satellite radio, driver memory settings and a power passenger seat. A voice-activated navigation system is available only for Grand Touring models and comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display and a rearview camera. Stand-alone options vary among trim levels and include many of the above-listed features as well as a rear spoiler, a chrome fuel-filler door and remote engine start.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Mazda 6 i versions are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the i Sport. A five-speed automatic with manual shift control is offered on the i Sport and is the only choice available on i Touring, i Touring Plus and i Grand Touring models.
Mazda 6 s Grand Touring is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 272 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque and is available only with a six-speed automatic. In Edmunds testing, this model reached 60 mph from a standstill in 6.5 seconds -- quick for its class. The four-cylinder automatic required 9.1 seconds, an average time for a four-cylinder family sedan.
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 24 mpg in combined driving for the four-cylinder i Sport with the six-speed manual. The Mazda 6 i models with the automatic are rated at 21/30/25 mpg, while the V6 stands at 18/27/21 mpg, both of which are at the low end for this segment.
Standard safety features for all 2013 Mazda 6 models include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, both the i and s Grand Touring models came to a stop from 60 mph in 125 feet, an average distance for a midsize sedan.
In government crash tests, the Mazda 6 received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with three stars for frontal-impact protection (four stars driver, three stars front passenger) and four stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Mazda 6 its highest score of "Good" for frontal-offset and side impacts, while roof strength tests yielded a second-best "Acceptable" rating.
Interior Design and Special Features
The aesthetic within the 2013 Mazda 6's cabin is thoroughly modern, with lots of curves and sweeping lines, and the car's red electroluminescent gauges are a handsome addition. The center stack forms a graceful arch; it looks great, but some of its controls are less intuitive than those seen in competing models. There's ample headroom and legroom all around, and the backseats are especially spacious, comfortably accommodating even the most long-limbed passengers. If you've got a narrow build, though, you might find the wide front seats lacking in lateral support.
Though the cabin design is attractive, the 6's interior is marred by the presence of some low-grade plastics, and more expensive trim levels come with odd black-and-silver accents that may be a turn-off for some. It's also worth noting that the sound system's performance trails that of others in this class; even the upgraded Bose system could disappoint some listeners. On the plus side, the Mazda 6's 16.6-cubic-foot trunk is one of the biggest in its class, while the trunk's unobtrusive hinge mechanisms and the 60/40-split-folding rear seats further enhance cargo-hauling capabilities.
The 2013 Mazda 6 stands apart from most other family sedans on the strength of its nimble handling. It enters curves more confidently than the Honda Accord, and ranks almost as highly on the fun-to-drive meter as the class-leading Nissan Altima. Its athletic demeanor comes with a ride quality that can be a bit taut, however, and road noise is also more prominent. Still, neither is particularly bothersome, even when riding on the big 18-inch wheels.
Most drivers will find the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder to be a suitable match, but those who want gutsier performance will find the V6 offers a significant boost. Unfortunately, this added performance is tempered by a transmission that is slow to react in both automatic and manual modes.