2010 Mazda 6 Review

2010 Mazda 6 - Fun family sedan.


There was always a lot to like abut the Mazda6. Here was a dutiful sedan any family could use to get around town in style.

The real plus was that after dad dropped off the family he could take it out and find some exciting performance and fun.

This was a great combination that not many sedans try to combine, at least not many costing $25,000. Hence, the "zoom-zoom" moniker proves that spirited driving can - and does - exist in an affordable family sedan.

With five trim levels, prices range from $19,220 for the Mazda6i SV to $28,930 for the S Grand Touring.

The previous model Mazda6 had great driving characteristics but was small compared to others it was competing with, most notably sales kings Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

Not so anymore. With its new dimensions, the Mazda6 can actually hang with the big boys. The wheelbase is up by 4.5 inches to 109.8 and total length is up 7 inches to 193.7. That's shorter than the Accord but longer than the Camry. I'd say that's a nice place to be.

While the larger dimensions will certainly impress, exterior styling for the Mazda6 is sporty and refined. This is where it leaves the aforementioned competition in the dust. Mazda gleaned style cues from its RX-8 and it works wonderfully to deliver a coupelike sedan that is chiseled and not afraid to show its obvious aggressive streak.

Specific cues made me feel the zoom-zoom long before I entered the cabin.

From the optional 18-inch rims to the minimalist single-bar grille to the dual chrome exhaust tips, this sedan was exciting to look at (and thankfully, to drive, too).

Inside the cabin you sense this is a driver's car. From the position of the shift on the forward console to the three-spoke steering wheel, there is good reason to think the Mazda6 might be fun to drive. Gauges are thoughtfully presented front and center while oversized knobs and buttons make it a breeze to handle climate and audio control.

With the increased dimensions in the 2010 Mazda6, there is now ample legroom for both front and rear passengers. Rear passengers have a center armrest with a convenient cup holder. When the armrest is in the down position, splitting the rear bench in two, it enhances the coupelike feeling. Rear seats fold 60/40 for utility use.

The new Mazda6 offers two all-new power trains: a 2.5-liter I-4 delivering 170 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque (Mazda6i) and a 3.7-liter V-6 (Mazda6S) with 272 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque.

Mated to several different gearboxes, the 6 offers a five-speed automatic for the I-4 with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic for the V-6. If you are hung up on one or the other, the six-speed auto uses the RX-8's outstanding active adaptive shift that selects the best possible gear ratios.

I tested the four-cylinder (Mazda6i) automatic and it performed admirably - for an I-4, that is. Delivering sharp exchanges and fun, responsive acceleration, the lower-end Mazda6 is a pleasure to whip around town or to dive into highway traffic. I have also driven the V-6 version and, as you might expect, that increase in horsepower really drives up the fun factor as well as the price. The big plus with the I-4 is the 21 city and 30 highway fuel economy.

The 6's stiffer chassis rides on new independent suspensions: double-wishbone in the front and multilinks in the rear, backed by standard dynamic stability control and traction control.

All 2010 Mazda6 sedans come standard with dynamic stability control, side curtain airbags, front seat-mounted side-impact airbags, antilock brakes and air conditioning plus power windows, mirrors and door locks.

Overall, there is little doubt in my mind which sedan in this class is my favorite to look at. When you combine a real sporty driving experience with great safety options and a refined interior treatment, the Mazda6 package is a tough one to beat.

2010 MAZDA 6i SV

ENGINE: 170-horsepower 2.5-liter I-4

TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic

DRIVETRAIN: front-wheel drive

FUEL ECONOMY: 21 city/30 highway

BASE PRICE: $19,220

AS TESTED: not available

WEB SITE: www.Mazdausa.com

John Stein

John Stein grew up in an extended family that valued the art of going fast. Spending plenty of weekends at U.S. 30 Drag Strip and Sante Fe Speedway, he fondly remembers the screaming machines and the flying mud that made those long-gone racing havens such special memories. With plenty of late nights spent ‘tinkering’ with cars throughout high school, he never anticipated his interest cars and his love for writing might find a common ground. After graduating from Eastern Illinois University in 1988, John started writing for the weekly Southtown Economist. So, when the Economist went to a daily in 1994, and needed an auto editor, John took the proverbial steering wheel. Featured weekly in the Sun-Times and its 17 suburban publications, as well as ELITE Magazine, John balances being the Automotive Editor for Sun-Time Media with being a husband and dad in Plainfield, Illinois.