Although people are buying more crossover SUVs than ever before, there's still plenty going on with the venerable midsize sedan. Besides the redesigned Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, you can now add the 2018 Mazda 6 to the list of family-friendly four-doors receiving major improvements. It might not look much different from the 2017 version, but new additions such as an optional turbocharged engine and a luxe Signature model ensure the 2018 Mazda 6 remains one of the best in the segment. It goes on sale in the spring of 2018.
2018 Mazda 6 First Look
Mazda's Midsize Sedan Gets a Makeover and Turbo Power
A new grille and standard LED headlights highlight the changes on the outside, but it's only once you step into the cabin that the breadth of the revisions becomes clear. The dashboard trim and climate controls are now horizontally oriented, with a low vertical profile, to give the 6 a more luxurious look. The seats have also been redesigned, Mazda says, to mimic the natural curve of a person's spine while standing to improve comfort and support. We have no complaints about the 2017 6's seats, so presumably the 2018's seats will be even more superb.
A new Signature model sits atop the Mazda 6's trim ladder. It could be an interesting alternative for sedan shoppers wanting a premium sedan but also not wanting to pony up typical European luxury sedan prices. With upgraded leather upholstery, ventilated front seats (a first for Mazda) and cabin trim made of sharp-looking simulated suede and wood, the Signature is certainly more luxurious inside than typical midsize sedan rivals.
Under the hood of most models is Mazda's familiar 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which now has cylinder deactivation. Under light loads between 25 and 50 mph, two cylinders shut off for decreased fuel consumption. Mazda says a pendulum in the transmission's torque converter helps offset any increase in engine vibration, and the automaker promises that the switch between two- and four-cylinder operation will be imperceptible to the driver.
Since its debut in 2014, the current-generation Mazda 6 has relied on that naturally aspirated four-cylinder for motivation, leaving the performance-minded portion of its customer base without an engine worthy of the car's dynamic handling. That changes for 2018 with the introduction of an optional turbocharged 2.5-liter engine borrowed from the CX-9 crossover. Its 250 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque are more than enough to move that sizable SUV — we've sung the praises of this engine as long as the CX-9 has been in our long-term fleet — and there's no reason it shouldn't transform the 6 into a small-scale sport sedan.
Even though brand-new rivals are out on dealer lots already, the updated 2018 Mazda 6 manages to be one of the sharpest and most enjoyable cars in the segment. Mazda seems to be playing the long game, with continual improvements to an initially excellent car. If you're looking for an upscale and entertaining midsize sedan, the 6 should be a prime car to consider.