2018 Mazda 6

2018 Mazda 6 Review

The sharp-looking Mazda 6 proves family sedans don't require settling down.
8.2 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Carlos Lago
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2018 Mazda 6 aspires to more than mere family-sedan duties. Sure, it has a big interior and competitive fuel economy, but on top of that it adds an upscale design and a focus on driving enjoyment. The Mazda 6 has offered these attributes for some time now, but Mazda is doubling down as other top automakers are trying a similar approach.

For 2018, that means broad improvements to the Mazda, with refinements in how it looks, drives and feels. 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 restyled dashboard trim and climate controls give the 6 a more luxurious look. The seats have also been redesigned for better comfort and higher-quality materials give this sedan a luxury-like vibe. Under the hood is a newly optional turbocharged engine, which should complement the 6's already sharp handling.

If fuel economy is a concern, you should know that the 6's base engine comes up a few mpg shy of its contemporaries. There is no hybrid variant, and all-wheel drive is not available. Aside from these omissions, though, the 2018 Mazda 6's upmarket style and enjoyable performance make it an excellent option for the family who likes the experience of driving.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Mazda 6 as one of Edmunds' Best Midsize Sedans for this year.



What's new for 2018

The Mazda 6 receives a variety of updates for 2018. The most significant is the revised interior, which is quieter and features a new dashboard design and higher-quality cabin materials. An available turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder joins the lineup, while the base 2.5-liter engine now has cylinder deactivation technology to improve fuel economy. Additional trim levels, features and safety technology round out the changes for 2018.

We recommend

While the price of the base Sport is attractive, it's missing some things you'd want in a family sedan. Stepping up to the Touring adds comfort and entertainment features, but you're still stuck with the base engine. That may be fine for economy sedans, but chances are you're expecting more from the driving experience if you're looking at a Mazda 6. That's why we think the Grand Touring is the best representation of the 6's strengths. It adds a few features on top of the Touring, but it also packs a satisfyingly powerful engine that matches the driving enjoyment this sedan aims to deliver.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Mazda 6 is a midsize family sedan that's available in five trim levels. The base Sport is fairly bare in terms of features, but it comes in at a reasonable price. The Touring and the Grand Touring have the features most shoppers would want, and the latter includes a more powerful engine. For a more premium experience, consider the Grand Touring Reserve or the Signature, which come with more attractive exterior trimmings, higher-quality materials and even more features.

The entry-level Sport starts with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder (187 horsepower, 186 pound-feet of torque) and a six-speed manual transmission. (A six-speed automatic is optional.) Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, push-button start, 60/40-split folding rear seats, non-illuminated vanity mirrors, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

An 8-inch entertainment touchscreen includes Bluetooth, one USB port and a six-speaker sound system. Standard safety features include blind-spot monitoring, a rearview camera, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Advanced safety and driver assistance features are available in the optional i-Activsense package, which includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning and lane keeping assist.

It's worthwhile to step up to the Touring trim, which adds features throughout the vehicle. A six-speed automatic is standard, as are 19-inch wheels, proximity keyless entry, automatic wipers, automatic high-beams, simulated leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver seat, illuminated vanity mirrors and a sunroof. Rear passengers get additional vents in the center console and a center armrest with two USB charging ports. The safety features of the i-Activsense package are standard with the Touring, too.

The Grand Touring starts where the Touring leaves off, but it adds the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (250 hp, 310 lb-ft of torque) and the six-speed automatic. The infotainment system gets more power, too, with the addition of an 11-speaker stereo, satellite radio and navigation.

You can tell the Grand Touring Reserve apart by its upgraded LED lighting and the addition of a rear spoiler. Comfort improvements for the driver include a heated steering wheel, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, and driver-seat memory settings. There's leather seating for everyone else, along with ventilation for the front row and heating for the rear. Above the gauge cluster sits a transparent panel that works like a head-up display, showing information such as traffic signs and your current speed. This trim also has adaptive front lighting, which turns the low beams in conjunction with the steering wheel to improve visibility at night.

Aside from the addition of a gunmetal front grille, the fully loaded Signature trim level primarily improves the look and feel of the interior. You'll find higher-quality materials such as microfiber suede, wood, and upgraded leather, along with the addition of LED interior lighting and a frameless rearview mirror. Other feature additions consist of a digital gauge cluster and a surround-view camera system with front and rear parking sensors.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2018 Mazda 6 Signature Sedan (turbo 2.5L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall8.2 / 10

Driving

8.5 / 10

Acceleration7.5 / 10
Braking7.0 / 10
Steering8.0 / 10
Handling10.0 / 10
Drivability9.0 / 10

Comfort

8.0 / 10

Seat comfort9.0 / 10
Ride comfort7.5 / 10
Noise & vibration7.5 / 10
Climate control7.5 / 10

Interior

8.5 / 10

Ease of use8.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out8.0 / 10
Driving position9.0 / 10
Roominess8.0 / 10
Visibility8.0 / 10
Quality9.0 / 10

Utility

8.0 / 10

Small-item storage8.0 / 10
Cargo space8.0 / 10

Technology

7.5 / 10

Audio & navigation7.0 / 10
Smartphone integration7.0 / 10
Driver aids8.0 / 10
Voice control8.0 / 10

Driving8.5

Going against the trend to isolate the driver from the road, Mazda went out of its way to keep the driving experience in the 6 connected. The throttle is very linear, and we love the low-end grunt of the engine but wish for a bit more juice at the top end. Handling is superlative for the class.

Acceleration7.5

The 6's turbo four-cylinder engine has excellent acceleration off the line, pulling strongly from low rpm since most of its power is made down low. It's not as thrusty at the top end but manages to hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, which puts it about midpack against other midsize sedans.

Braking7.0

The 6 needs 129 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is average performance for the class. The brakes are responsive without being grabby with easy but confident pedal effort. Under hard stopping, pedal feel is maintained, so it's easier to modulate the brakes when driving more spiritedly.

Steering8.0

It has the heaviest steering weighting of the class, which means low-speed maneuvers take a fair bit of muscle. But the payoff comes when moving through corners, where the weight disappears and the feedback is excellent. The steering's on-center feel is great and is naturally self-centering, too. It's a segment standout.

Handling10.0

The 6's handling is superlative. It never hesitates at turn-in and plants itself in the corner, giving drivers tons of confidence. There's minimal body roll, and it maintains its line even over moderate bumps and keeps its composure turn after turn. Handling is in Mazda's wheelhouse.

Drivability9.0

We found the transmission to be very good at predicting our intent, and just about all shifts, both up and down, were smooth and quick. The engine likes to be driven like a diesel, with the revs kept below 4,000 rpm. Sport mode lets it stay in a gear longer and sharpens downshifts.

Comfort8.0

The biggest issue is deciding how much you value a plush ride. If you prefer a car that's planted to the road and lets you know what the asphalt underneath the tires is like, you won't find any issues with the stiff but compliant suspension on the Mazda 6. Its seats are great in long stints.

Seat comfort9.0

The seats have firm padding and contouring to prevent you from moving around when driving enthusiastically. Both the seat bottoms and back bolsters are supportive without being intrusive. These seats work well for both long-range cruising comfort and support for when you're on curvier roads.

Ride comfort7.5

The 6 has a sport-tuned suspension, so it rides a bit stiffer than its competitors. Thanks to good calibration, though, it's not punishing. It quells body motion well, but some might find it not to their comfort standards. Those wanting a plush ride should look elsewhere.

Noise & vibration7.5

Unlike competitor cars that try to shield you from engine sound, the 6's comes through as a growl and is pleasing to hear. We detected wind noise on the left side of the vehicle and some road noise from the low-profile tires, but neither is obtrusive. The cabin is pretty serene otherwise.

Climate control7.5

The standard dual-zone system is quiet and easy to use. It doesn't move a lot of air, so it takes a little longer to cool the cabin than systems found in other cars. Our test car's ventilated seats made up the difference, though, and are a good option for those living in warmer climates.

Interior8.5

It's not as spacious as the newest competitors from Honda, Hyundai and Toyota, but the 6 is still a roomy sedan. Take away the fancy interior styling, and the interior is still a functional and comfortable place to be. Mazda thoughtfully put a knee pad on the side of the wide transmission tunnel.

Ease of use8.0

Most functions have multiple access paths, but the central control knob is used for everything. It's easy to operate and allows you to keep your eyes on the road. The steering wheel controls are numerous and kind of fiddly, and we wish the touchscreen didn't have a lockout feature while in motion.

Getting in/getting out8.0

Wide-opening doors and mild seat bolsters make getting in and out very easy, particularly for front passengers. Tall-torsoed rear seaters may have to duck their heads due to the 6's sloping rear roofline, but otherwise getting into the back isn't a problem.

Driving position9.0

The 6 enjoys a wide range of power adjustments. The front seats have long seat bottom cushions for excellent thigh support, and the driver's side is adjustable for even more support if needed. Steering wheel adjustment could use more telescoping range.

Roominess8.0

Aside from a wide center console that intrudes on your right knee, the 6's cabin is roomy. Even with the sunroof, headroom is excellent, as is shoulder room and hiproom. Rear-seaters will notice less kneeroom than what's in the Accord or Camry, but average-size passengers should find the space comfortable.

Visibility8.0

A low hood gives you a great view over the nose, but the front pillars are wide and slightly obstructing. Rear visibility is only adequate due to a high decklid and large rear pillars, but the side windows taper toward the middle helping minimize their impact. We wish the 360-degree camera was high-definition.

Quality9.0

Mazda is going upmarket with the Signature series with quality interior materials and excellent fit and finish. Our car had no squeaks or rattles and felt closely comparable to a luxury sedan. The durability of our tester's white interior remains to be seen, though a brown interior is available.

Utility8.0

You'd be surprised by how much you can fit in the 6, especially with the rear seats folded down. While its 14.7 cubic feet of trunk space doesn't beat the top cargo category numerically, practically speaking, most buyers won't notice the difference. Its cabin storage is decent, but some do it better.

Small-item storage8.0

There's a decent amount of storage overall. The space in front of the shifter can even fit oversize smartphones. The center console is on the small side but can accommodate two Red Bull cans with room to spare. The door pockets are large and will fit most water bottles, and the rear door pockets are sized similarly.

Cargo space8.0

Cargo space is within 2 cubic feet, and lift-over height is within an inch of the cargo space leader, the Honda Accord. Most won't notice the difference. The trunk opening is wide and has enclosed hinges. We have a small issue with the release on the folding 60/40-split seat being in the trunk, not the cabin.

Child safety seat accommodation7.0

Three car seat positions are available on the rear seat with four recessed lower anchors and three upper tether points. The lower anchors are located under plastic covers and could get lost easily. They're also a bit of a tight fit.

Technology7.5

By the time you read this, Mazda should be offering Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the 6. But even without them, the infotainment system, voice control and navigation all work well. We like the crisp head-up display and dash, and the adaptive cruise control is excellent.

Audio & navigation7.0

Mazda's hard-drive-based navigation system works well in conjunction with voice control and the control knob, but some functions are nonintuitive, such as menu-based zooming and panning when in map mode. The Bose audio system has good fidelity but emphasizes low-range and midrange tones.

Smartphone integration7.0

The 6 comes with a USB port up front and quick-pairing Bluetooth streaming and phone support, and that's about it. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available shortly and can be retroactively installed on the Touring trim and above. The 6 also one-ups the Accord and the Camry with dual rear USB ports.

Driver aids8.0

Adaptive cruise control can bring the 6 to a stop and be switched from adaptive to standard modes. The statuses for adaptive cruise control, blind-spot, lane departure and front collision mitigation are visible through the head-up display, giving the driver additional situational awareness.

Voice control8.0

Voice control allows you to access phone functions, navigation and audio system controls, and it works well as long as you follow the on-screen prompts. We'd like to add climate controls and a smartphone voice-control pass-through (probably coming with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) to the function list.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.