New Mazda MAZDA6 Review

2003 Mazda 6 i 4dr Sedan

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With a few well-established vehicles dominating the midsize sedan segment, and numerous likable competitors trying to unseat them, it's tough for any particular vehicle to stand out. But the Mazda 6 has something most competitors don't: charisma.

While just about any car in this segment will get the job done, the Mazda 6 manages to engage the driver in the process. This was particularly true of the first-generation 6, which had a relatively compact, European-size footprint and sporty suspension tuning that gave the car a remarkably nimble feel. For the second-generation 6, Mazda enlarged the dimensions while still retaining much of the original model's handling panache. Depending on your needs, either generation could make for a solid choice as a midsize sedan.

Current Mazda 6
The Mazda 6 is powered by one of two engines -- a 2.5-liter inline-4 generating 170 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque or a 3.7-liter V6 that cranks out 272 hp and 269 lb-ft. The four is paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic, while the V6 is only available with a six-speed automatic.

The 6 is available in five trim levels: i Sport, i Touring, i Touring Plus, i Grand Touring and s Grand Touring. Models with the "i" prefix come with the four-cylinder engine, while those with the "s" prefix come with the V6. Base models are respectably equipped, while higher trim levels come with such niceties as a sunroof, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone automatic climate control and an audible blind-spot monitoring system. Major options (depending on trim) include xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry, satellite radio and a navigation system.

Visually, the current 6 is no wallflower, with a distinctive face and front fender flares that recall Mazda's RX-8 sports car. In terms of practicality, the Mazda 6 also stacks up well against perennial class leaders such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry with regard to passenger space, cargo volume and V6 vigor. Moreover, most midsize sedans can't match the Mazda's entertaining character on twisty back roads, and yet the 6 still manages to offer a satisfactorily compliant ride.

There are a few downsides to the current Mazda 6. First, the V6 might be powerful, but its fuel economy brings up the rear in this segment. The four-cylinder's fuel economy is also underwhelming. Finally, the quality of the interior materials is a hit-or-miss proposition, as the rich soft-touch material on the dashboard contrasts with cheap-feeling plastic elsewhere. Nonetheless, the Mazda 6 is still a respectable choice in the midsize sedan segment.

If you are looking for older years, visit our used Mazda MAZDA6 page.

For more on past Mazda MAZDA6 models, view our Mazda MAZDA6 history page.

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