2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring: Four-Cylinder Engine is Adequate
March 05, 2009
Last night, I put about 100 freeway miles on our 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring, climbing a few grades and initiating a few decisive passing maneuvers. And now I'm convinced that the car's 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine is an adequate power source for this midsize sedan.
Ours is a PZEV, of course, so it's rated at 168 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 166 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm (versus 170 hp and 167 lb-ft on non-PZEVs). Like most fours in this class, the 2.5-liter makes useful torque at relatively low rpm and it lasts into the mid-range, so getting around town and merging onto the freeway is pain-free.
Climbing grades (in this case, the I-5 Grapevine) forces the engine to reach for high rpm -- well, not too high, as redline comes early at 6,200 rpm. I don't dislike the way the engine sounds at these speeds, but I don't delight in it. Given the choice, I'd rather have the current-generation Accord's 2.4-liter engine as my soundtrack. The engine isn't exactly comfortable at 6,000 rpm, either, but nor does it feel strained.
In general, I was happy with the responsiveness of our Mazda 6 i's five-speed automatic transmission, but on the Grapevine, it took extra prodding to get it to drop to 3rd in "D," so that manual mode would be useful. I do like the 0.692 top overdrive gear, because it has the engine at 2,500 rpm at 70 mph and only 3,000 rpm at 80 mph.
Overall, this is a powertrain I could live with in a personal car, especially considering the impressive cruising range -- this a 400-mile car, easy-peasy. The only time the Mazda 6 i feels kinda slow is under full throttle coming down an entrance ramp. And really, I think it would have no difficulty keeping up with the four-cylinder Accord, Camry and Malibu we tested last year. First choice is still the Passat 2.0T, though.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 7,070 miles