2014 Mazda 6i Grand Touring Sedan (2.5L 4-cyl. 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 4/2/2013
The Mazda 6 stands out in the sea of mid-sized sameness with bold styling and engaging driving dynamics. It offers competive fuel economy while matching or beating the strongest performers in the segment in our testing. This is the car for buyers who want more than an appliance.
PerformanceThe 6 performs better than most in the segment, if only slightly, according to our test numbers. But where the Mazda 6 truly trumps the class is in terms of driving feel, with precise steering, suspension and a paddle-shifting automatic.
The 6 is quicker than most four-cylinder mid-size sedans we've tested, especially in the sprint to 60 mph which it accomplishes in just 7.6 seconds.
Brake feel is very good despite long pedal travel. Our panic braking distances were average for the class, but around town the jump-in point is nice and linear.
A small, leather-wrapped steering wheel fosters the idea that the 6 is the sport sedan of the mid-size segment. And it is. The steering exhibits very good road feel and response.
The Mazda 6 responds to inputs quicker and more obediently than others in the segment. Its track handling numbers were held back by an overly-intrusive stability control system.
An intuitive and well-conceived transmission calibration is the 6's greatest drivability strength. Paddle or console lever downshifts are met with perfect rev-matching.
ComfortComfort is compromised somewhat in Touring and Grand Touring models by 19-inch wheels. Still, only the most sensitive backsides will take issue. The 6 lives up to the required mainstream agenda while not forgetting driving enthusiasts.
Though the front seats are a bit firm, they are the most supportive and best looking seats of any car in this segment. Rear seatbacks are stiff but the cushion is soft.
Large wheels hurt ride quality some, but it's certainly not unacceptable. The driving rewards the 6 offers, such as good steering feel, body control and balance, make up for it.
The 6 is average when it comes to road noise. Its engine is smooth and only moderately loud at full throttle. Tire noise, despite the large rubber, isn't a problem.
InteriorGrand Touring trim levels offer leather on many interior surfaces, including the doors, shifter, steering wheel and seats. Materials, finish and styling are as good as any of the top sellers in the segment. The navigation system is a sore spot.
Most controls work well, but Mazda relies on an aftermarket navigation system that lacks the ease of use, functionality and high resolution screen of the best in the segment.
Ingress/egress to the front seats is pretty easy. But the 6's seriously sloping roofline requires you to duck your head a bit when getting into the rear seat.
Once you hop into the rear seat, surprise, there's plenty of head room. Rear leg room is ample, too. Front head room is good, but elbow room is tighter than most competitors.
A high rear shelf and large C-pillars compromise rear visibility relative to the best cars in the segment. The standard rear-view camera lowers reversing risks, however.
The 6 lacks the large door pockets of the class leaders, and has a marginally smaller trunk too. But nearly flat-folding rear seats and a large trunk pass-through are big pluses.
ValueThough you'll pay a premium for the Grand Touring model, you also get plenty of competitive features. Our top-line tester was equipped with active cruise control which isn't available elsewhere in the segment.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Even our pre-production tester offered good assembly quality inside and out. Body panel alignment and interior fitment were both good.
Its abundance of safety features gives the 6 a high score here, but its navigation system (especially the small screen) brings it back down. Overall, average.
The 6 is priced competitively in the segment with the lower-end trims starting at about the same as its competitors. Top-line trims marginally exceed the class leaders price-wise.
The EPA rates the 6 at 30 mpg Combined (26 City/38 Highway) with the automatic transmission. We averaged 27.1 mpg overall, but an excellent 34.6 mpg on our 116-mile evaluation loop.
With a basic warranty of 3 years/36,000 miles and drivetrain coverage for 5 years/60,000 miles, the 6's warranty is only average for the segment.
Roadside assistance for 3 years/36,000 miles is a nice touch in this class, but the overall Mazda ownership experience is hampered some by fewer dealers than many competitors.
Fun To DriveAs mid-size sedans go the 6 is the most fun to drive. Its chassis is capable and confidence inspiring and its transmission offers large measures of control.
The 6 is the most engaging mid-size sedan in terms of driving dynamics. It retains Mazda's high standards for feedback, though its stability system can be too intrusive.
We like the Mazda 6. Both its styling and driving character make it unique in a sea of sameness. If you ever drive for the sake of driving, this is the mid-size sedan for you.