Full 2015 Mazda Mazda6 Review
What's New for 2015
For 2014, all Mazda 6 sedans come with a full set of one-touch up/down power windows, and keyless entry and ignition is now standard on the Touring trim level. In addition, a new option package for the Touring combines an upgraded sound system, sunroof and satellite radio.
Shoppers looking for midsize sedans are spoiled for choice these days. Many of the cars in this class offer appealing combinations of fuel economy, interior space and upscale amenities. The 2015 Mazda 6 checks all these boxes while also bringing in unexpected benefits like sleek styling and a sporty driving feel. These aren't exactly critical elements in a family car, but they help the Mazda 6 stand out from the crowd.
Although we're fond of the 2015 Mazda 6's distinct design, this sedan actually gets more impressive when you look beyond its sheet metal. Its fuel economy, for example, is outstanding for this class. When equipped with the i-Eloop system on the Grand Touring trim, it earns an EPA-estimated 32 mpg in combined driving, which is tops among non-hybrid midsize sedans with a gasoline engine. Without i-Eloop, the Mazda rates 30 mpg combined, which is still a great number for a family car. Furthermore, the 6 is quicker than most other midsize sedans that we've tested with a base four-cylinder engine, and most buyers will find its acceleration more than adequate in cutthroat urban traffic. On top of that, Mazda's sedan has precise steering and a firmly tuned suspension that make it fun to hustle along on the occasional back road or highway on-ramp.
One of the few knocks against the 2015 Mazda 6 is that its sportier suspension makes bumps and potholes a bit more noticeable, especially on cars with the 19-inch wheels. If you're used to a softer ride, you might find the 6 too stiff in these situations. And while the Mazda 6 has one of the best base-four-cylinder engines around, there's no option to upgrade to a more powerful turbocharged four-cylinder or a V6 engine. Inside, the touchscreen electronics interface has a lower-resolution display and is generally harder to use than competitors' systems.
Although our grievances with the 2015 Mazda 6 are minor, there are plenty of alternatives to consider in this class. The 2014 Honda Accord and 2014 Nissan Altima also have very high fuel economy ratings (not to mention optional V6 engines), and you might find them a bit more comfortable in everyday driving. The 2014 Ford Fusion and 2014 Kia Optima are also worth a look if sharp styling and creature comforts are high on your priority list, plus they offer punchy turbocharged engines. Ultimately, you'll do well with any of these family cars, but if you're looking for a midsize sedan that's a bit more entertaining than most, we'd definitely suggest a test-drive of the 2015 Mazda 6.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Mazda 6 is a five-passenger midsize sedan offered in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring.
Standard features on the base manual-transmission Sport include 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, a 60/40-split rear seat, a 3.5-inch multi-information display and a six-speaker sound system with a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack. If equipped with the optional automatic transmission, the Sport also includes Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5.8-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera and audio upgrades (voice commands, HD radio, Pandora, text message display function and automatic emergency notification).
Stepping up to the Touring trim adds 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition and entry, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, premium vinyl (leatherette) upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sliding console armrest and a six-way power driver seat. For Touring models with an automatic transmission, there's an option package that adds a sunroof, an upgraded 11-speaker Bose audio system and satellite radio. This package is required if you want to equip the Touring Technology package, which adds automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview and driver-side mirrors, heated side mirrors, a navigation system and the Smart City frontal collision mitigation system.
The Grand Touring includes all of the above as standard, as well as different 19-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, foglights, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar support), a four-way power passenger seat, driver memory functions and heated front seats.
Optional for the Grand Touring is the GT Technology package, which includes adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning system, a lane-departure warning system, automatic high-beam control and an energy capture system called i-Eloop ("intelligent energy loop") that improves mpg by storing energy captured during deceleration to a capacitor, which can then power air-conditioning, lighting and accessories for about a minute while the stop-start system shuts the engine down at a stoplight.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2015 Mazda 6 is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Sport and Touring trims can be matched to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission (with shift paddles on the steering wheel), while the Grand Touring comes only with the automatic.
In Edmunds testing, an automatic-equipped Mazda 6 sprinted to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds, which is a quick time for a midsize sedan with a base four-cylinder engine. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 30 mpg combined (26 city/38 highway) for the automatic-transmission car and 29 mpg combined (25/37) with the manual. With the Grand Touring's optional i-Eloop feature, fuel economy rises to an impressive 32 mpg combined (28/40).
Standard safety features for the Mazda 6 include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Standard on all trims other than the manual-transmission Sport is a rearview camera, while rear parking sensors are optional across the board. The Touring and Grand Touring trims additionally include blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring.
Optional on the Touring and standard on the Grand Touring is Mazda's Smart City Brake Support, which is a frontal collision mitigation system that uses an infrared laser sensor at the top of the windshield to detect an imminent collision. It can automatically brake the car to a stop at low speeds if the driver doesn't react. The GT Technology package for the Grand Touring also bundles a forward collision-warning system (which uses radar to detect your closing distance on vehicles ahead and then provides visual and audible alerts) with a lane-departure warning system.
In Edmunds brake testing, a 6i Grand Touring came to a stop from 60 mph in 128 feet, which is a bit longer than average for a midsize sedan.
In government crash tests, the 2015 Mazda 6 earned the top overall rating of five stars, with four stars for total frontal impact crash protection and five stars for total side impact protection. The 6 also earned the highest possible rating of "Good" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset test, it earned a second-best rating of "Acceptable." Its seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
With plentiful rear legroom, the Mazda 6's rear passengers will feel as if they've been given access to a first-class cabin rather than coach. There's also generous headroom, even for those taller than 6 feet, though the sedan's sloping rear roof line makes the rear windows smaller, resulting in a more claustrophobic feel than you'd get in an Accord or a Camry. There's decent luggage space, as the efficiently shaped trunk offers 14.8 cubic feet of capacity.
In general, the 6's interior design is clean and functional. Polished aluminum trim accents the cabin, while the Grand Touring's leather upholstery features contrasting stitching. Materials quality and fit and finish are among the best in the class. Most controls are simple and user-friendly, but the touchscreen interface found in most models is a step behind the systems in most competitors. The screen and the touch buttons on the display are small, and we've found that it doesn't always get along with Apple products. Sedans with navigation use TomTom maps, and we've found them lacking in detail compared with rival systems' mapping software. On the upside, a multipurpose knob located south of the Mazda's shifter grants a welcome level of control redundancy.
One standout characteristic of the 2015 Mazda 6 is its powertrain. The sedan's 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine produces quick acceleration and is smooth and surprisingly hushed. And although many of today's automatic transmissions quickly upshift to the highest gear possible and are reluctant to downshift (both strategies are used to boost mpg numbers), the Mazda 6's automatic is responsive to gas pedal inputs and never feels flat-footed when you're initiating highway passing maneuvers. Furthermore, Mazda is one of the few automakers that still offers a six-speed manual gearbox, which is fast becoming an endangered species in the midsize class.
This same light-on-its-feet character carries through when the topic turns to handling. With its communicative, precise steering and sporty chassis tuning, the 2015 Mazda 6 feels sharp-witted and willing around corners, with stand-out dynamics for the class. The flip side, however, is that the 6 rides a bit more stiffly than competitors, especially with the 19-inch wheels. Like many Mazdas, the 6 is a car for practical-minded buyers with enthusiast leanings.