2009 Mazda 6 Long Term Road Test - Audio & Technology

2009 Mazda 6 Long-Term Road Test

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Audio & Technology

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2006 Mazda 6: Navigation Issue Resolved

November 27, 2009


Our 2009 Mazda 6 made its final trip to the dealer for service on the navigation screen. We are hopeful this is the last time.

Long Beach Mazda was more thorough now than during our last visit. This time the GPS screen was physically removed, which uncovered the problem. One of the wires from the loom was not soldered properly. The ineffective solder-job was touched up and now we're back in business. Our navigation system works like new.

So what did we learn from this process? Ford of Orange was a disappointment. It took them 4 months to order and incorrectly replace the nav-screen. We would use Long Beach Mazda again. Yes, the first repair attempt failed, but the folks there were always pleasant. And in the end they do get credit for fixing the problem.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 20,613 miles

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2009 Mazda 6: Navigation Problems Persist

October 19, 2009


Let's get down to brass tacks: The persistent navigation system problems we are having with our 2009 Mazda 6 have gone on far too long.

First reported back in April, we waited months for back-ordered parts to come in to fix a broken display screen. A new head unit was needed to remedy a mysterious red stripe that obscured the right-hand side of the display.

The parts eventually came in and we finally got the screen repaired in late August. But a short time later the "you are here" cursor started to wander -- first to Mexico, then out into the Pacific Ocean. At least one reader suspected the problem was a GPS error related to improper installation of the new part.

Circumstances prevented us from bringing it in straight away, but when we finally did we brought our Mazda 6 to a different dealer, in hopes of better service. They told us that all the system needed was a recalibration. "That will do it", they said. The work was done and the car was promptly returned to us the next day.

After a while it became obvious that this rush job was woefully insufficient. Our Mazda's nav system needs much more than a mere recalibration.

They should have have been able to tell that the GPS signal is not reaching the navi system, as evidenced by the lack of clock reading in the yellow circle, above. Without it's main guiding signal, the system resorts to groping its way along 100% of the time in "dead-reckoning" mode, a back-up mode intended to fill-in the momentary satellite blackouts that occur when the car is driven under trees or through tunnels.

DR uses steering, speed and acceleration sensors to approximate your direction changes, and this data is overlaid on top of the map. It doesn't know exactly where you are, but it can make a good guess if your starting point (and heading) was properly calibrated. It also makes the assumption that you're driving along roads that it knows.

This works fine for short hops in suburban areas. But if you drive miles and miles at a time in this mode, the errors pile up and the system loses it's way. Left unchecked, North becomes South and you wind up south of the border or far out to sea. It's no coincidence that the editors who noticed the biggest errors were the ones who went out on extended trips.

This weekend I drove to San Diego, 90 miles south. But I didn't notice that the cursor had started to diverge until I appraoched a meal stop in Irvine, about 1/3 of the way there. In the photo above the nav system thinks the car is on Von Karman Avenue. But I've put the manual cross-hairs on my true location on Jamboree Road, about 1/2 mile east. It's not a big offset at this point, but it played heck with my attempt to locate food.

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2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring: Full-Tilt Screen

October 09, 2009

mazda 6 nav screen tilts

I know we've had a lot of posts featuring the navigation screen lately, but I discovered this morning that it's possible to tilt the screen in our Mazda 6. And I'm not talking about the acrobatic tilt and swivel to load CDs into the audio system. This tilt seems useful in avoiding glare on the screen itself. At least, that's all I can think of.

Here's how it works. You push the physical "display" button below the bottom right hand of the screen, and the display screen controls come up (click through to the jump to see the control screen). There are two virtual buttons on the bottom left corner of that screen to control tilt angle. Hit the left one and the physical screen stays flush with the case (see above left). Hit the right one and the bottom of the physical screen tilts ever so slightly up (about half an inch or so, see above right).

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2009 Mazda 6: Navigation Back on Course

October 07, 2009


We dropped off the Mazda 6 at Long Beach Mazda to have its navigation fixed. Within a couple hours the phone rang. "You're car is ready. We calibrated the nav system and you're no longer swimming in the Pacific."

See that arrow on the nav screen? Well, that is exactly where I parked to take this picture. I consider that a job well done. Finally, a competent service department.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 18,704 miles

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2009 Mazda 6: Fix Our Nav, Please

October 06, 2009


Yesterday we called Long Beach Mazda and scheduled a service appointment for this morning in order to bring our Mazda 6's navigation system back to dry land.

We agreed to drop off the car at 8:30 a.m., which we did as evidenced by the photo above.

Hopefully, it won't take long for the repair.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 18,704 miles

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2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring: Nav Works Swimmingly

September 28, 2009

mazda6 004.jpg

This is where our long-term 2009 Mazda 6 insisted it was located all weekend.

That is all.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 18,187 miles.

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2009 Mazda 6 Grand Touring: Blind Spot Monitoring FAIL

September 23, 2009

2009 Mazda 6 BSM mirror.jpg

Like many cars nowadays, the Mazda 6 can be equipped with a blind-spot monitoring and warning device (BSM). Using sensors, the car informs you via a little light in the mirrors (pictured) if something is in your blind spot. Should you activate the turn signal when said something is lurking, there is a loud beeping noise as a warning.

The Ford Fusion has this too and does the job of warning you of other cars should your properly placed mirrors not be sufficient or your mind wanders. The Mazda 6's system will also warn you of other cars, but it gets a FAIL because it'll also warn you of guard rails and trees and hedges and curbs and dudes 20 feet away.

When merging onto I-405 North from I-10, I signaled my intention from the right-most lane to exit onto the off-ramp ahead. The 6 loudly beeped at me (it's a bit startling) because it was picking up the guard rail and shrubs that were presently there. When I went to turn right into the garage this afternoon, BSM picked up the curb, trees, grass or previously mentioned dude even though all were actually beyond an extended right-hand turn lane placed between them and the lane I was presently in. The Ford Fusion and other systems didn't do this in the same places.

As such, I turn BSM off every time I get into the Mazda 6. And really, I'd rather have an integrated blind spot mirror, like the one found in the Ford Flex. Rather than a little light telling me there's something there, the mirror actually shows me the something that's there.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2009 Mazda 6: Donde Estoy?

September 08, 2009


Last month we let you know that the Mazda 6's navigation screen had finally been fixed thanks to Mazda of Orange. But while the display screen's red line is indeed gone, the actual navigation unit seems to be having problems. When I left our office in Santa Monica, GPS was locating me in Fullerton, about 40 miles away (presumably because it's close to Orange).

I then drove about 250 miles north to central California but the Mazda thought I was heading south. For a while the display screen showed the car wandering around Mexico. I felt like Moses in the desert, if Moses happened to drive a Mazda.

I tried the calibration function via the navigation system's menu and set my location manually -- that worked for a short time but then the navigation started getting increasingly off in terms of distance. I finally tried taking the navigation DVD out and reinserting it. No luck there, either.

Another trip to the dealer is probably in order. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the underwater scenery of my current location.

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2009 Mazda6: Look Ma, No More Red Line!

August 25, 2009


Those of you who care about our Mazda6 no doubt remember the red line on the nav screen, which has been haunting us for months. Well, it's finally been repaired. Or, more precisely, it's been replaced -- by Mazda of Orange. The debacle dates back to April when we first took the car in for this issue and to have the Oldhamised underbody cladding replaced.

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2009 Mazda6 i Grand Touring: Parts Still On Order

June 04, 2009


Perhaps you remember this little problem with our 6's navigation screen? Or, maybe, you remember the missing underbody cladding courtesy Boss Man Oldham? Certainly you remember that way back in early April we took the 6 to the dealer to have these issues addressed and get the oil changed? Naturally, the parts had to be ordered.

Service writer Mary Kant at Ford of Orange in Orange, California (that would be the OC) told us we'd get a call when the parts arrived. That was in April. It's June. Still no call. We rang Mary this morning and were told the underbody cladding is in but the nav screen has been on backorder. It's supposed to ship on June 9. We don't know from where.

Mary said she'd call when it arrives. We aren't holding our breath.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor

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2009 Mazda 6: I was hit by an AUX

May 14, 2009


I consider the Mazda 6's lack of an iPod specific connection to be a huge mistake. It's just the kind of thing a typical Mazda customer would want in a big way. An aux in jack is not the same - it won't charge and you can't navigate your device without looking down. That being said, it does work in the most basic sense. However, the one thing I just can't take is the fact that whenever I turn the car off then on again, the stereo never stays on the AUX setting. Almost every time I fire the car up, the radio is on some other setting usually CD. I leave my iPod hooked up and it remains running on shuffle. If I can't have total control then at least give me the ability to jump right back into 16 gigs of randomness. Truly maddening!

Brian Moody @ 11,184 miles

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2009 Mazda 6 i: Fuel Economy Test, Plus Deep Thoughts on Bluetooth

April 20, 2009


Last Friday a couple of your favorite Edmunds.com editors conducted a 222-mile fuel economy test in the 2009 Mazda 6.

The drive route through Orange, San Diego and Riverside Counties was a roughly even city/highway mix -- and thus fairly true to the 55-percent city + 45-percent highway formula the EPA uses to come up with combined mpg ratings. Start and finish fill-ups were conducted at the same pump by the same editor; the climate control was set at 72 degrees; and wide open throttle use was prohibited. Lunch and a driver change came in Temecula, California.

The result? 27.8 mpg against an EPA rating of 21/30/24 for a 2009 Mazda 6 i with the five-speed automatic transmission.

Naturally, racking up over 100 miles in city traffic is time-intensive to the point that we spent 6 hours behind the wheel. That gave us plenty of time and opportunity to use the Mazda's Bluetooth.

The good news is that the Bluetooth connection itself works well. Callers come in clearly over the speakers, and for the most part, it's easy to be heard on the other side as well.

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2009 Mazda6 i Grand Touring: Parts On Order

April 13, 2009


Our Mazda 6 went to the dealer last week for its first service and to have its various malodies repaired. Some time has elapsed since we've discussed the stripe and the stupidity, but both will be fixed soon enough. Ford of Orange had to order both a new nav system and new undercarriage molding and will be calling us when they come in.

Meanwhile, we paid $95.08 for the 5,000-mile service, which, near as we can tell, includes little more than we would have received for an oil-change-only price. Included in the service are top offs of all essential fluids, a tire rotation and pressure adjustment, brake inspection and inspection of all exterior lights. This, however, is largely our fault for asking only for the necessary service at this mileage instead of asking specifically for an oil change.

The other parts will be covered under, ahem, warranty.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor @ 8,690 miles

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2009 Mazda 6: Pet Peeve -- CD Changers Behind Navigation Screens

March 26, 2009


I've hit my limit on in-dash CD changers mounted behind integrated navigation system screens. I can't stand the setup in our long-term 2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring.

If it was just a single-disc player, I think I'd be fine with it. But this is a six-disc unit, and the loading and unloading process is the one of the fussiest I've ever encountered. OK, it's helpful that you get the yellow "In" labels to let you know which slots are occupied. But when I'm ready to put something in slot 2, I can't just press the slot 2 disc icon -- I have to hit that, plus "Load" or "Eject." That's silly. And with the soft on-screen "buttons" so close together, it's easy to hit the wrong one accidentally.

Some manufacturers (like Nissan/Infiniti) manage to find other real estate in the center stack for a separate CD changer unit when a navigation system is installed. But, frankly, even a glovebox-mounted unit would be preferable to the Mazda 6's setup, which I certainly don't try to load while driving anyway. (Sure, I could listen to my iPod instead, but I didn't want to last night. The sound quality is not the same, plus I spent 15 years building my CD collection -- it takes time to rip it all to my computer.)

A note on the screen discoloration: It's still there, but we will address it when the Mazda 6 goes in for its first service.

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2009 Mazda 6 Grand Touring: BSM? Oh, BSM!

January 20, 2009

2009 Mazda 6 BSM OFF switch.jpg

I took the Mazda 6 this weekend to Angel Stadium to watch James "Bubba" Stewart yet again annihilate the competition at Supercross Anaheim Round 2. At the race, Dan shot a great video showing 4 consecutive backflips.

I noticed that by the driver's left knee (above), next to the unusual headlamp leveling thumbwheel, is a switch marked "BSM OFF." BSM off, what could that be? Huh.

Let's RTFM (read the friendly manual). But of course -- Blind Spot Monitoring! -- and it works just fine.

BSM works by showing a car sensing icon in either of the outside mirrors if a vehicle appears in your blindspot on the corresponding side (pic below, click on it for a better view). If you operate your turn signal to the side where the blindspot vehicle is situated, you will also hear an auditory beep. The radar sensors are located in both corners of the rear bumper. The book says you must be going 20 mph or more for it to work. I found it to be useful with no false alarms, and it never alerted for parked cars.

The only downside is that if you are cutting in and out of traffic, and not really that close to the vehicles you chop, you will get numerous warnings. Some may find it to be annoying and that all of the alerts will lead the driver to ignore the system. But I don't find it so.

Besides -- if you don't like it, there's that BSM OFF switch.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 4275 mi

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2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring: Ghost in the Machine (part 2)

December 18, 2008

On my drive home last night, I kept a careful eye on the Mazda's display. The stripe got worse.


After about 30 minutes of driving, the fluctuating stripe became a solid stripe. When I shut the car off then started it back up, the stripe went away for a moment then returned full force. Perhaps it has something to do with heat in the system. I tend to agree with y'all that it's a bad screen and not something to do with a connection or program.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 2610 miles

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2009 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring: Ghost in the Machine

December 17, 2008

It's only been a short time we've had the Mazda 6, and we did our initial track test yesterday (results soon), but we already have a glitchy nav screen.


Look in the upper-left right corner for the reddish pattern that's displayed on every type of screen (audio, navi, setup, etc.). The width of the pattern never changes, but the top-to-bottom length of it acts as if it's a sound-level meter. Yet the varying length of the stripe doesn't seem to correlate to anything in particular (e.g. volume, static, station).

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