2011 Mazda 6 Review

2011 Mazda 6 - Midsize sedan with a little flair.


For the 2011 model year, the Mazda6 is finally starting to grow on me. And I think the fact that I had the Touring Plus model, which was chockfull of standard features, made the difference.

You're looking at non-luxury car that has Bluetooth, blind-spot monitoring, side-curtain airbags, keyless entry, power adjustable driver's seat, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, side mirror turn signal lights and power moonroof. These are all features you'd pay a pretty penny for in premium vehicles, yet this Mazda6 trim level had less than $900 in options and started at $25,665.

OK, I agree that seems a little steep for a Mazda, but did you catch the part about blind spot monitoring? Not only is this feature available on a non-luxury car, but this trim level also makes it standard. If you wanted BSM on an Infiniti M, for example, you'd have to pay an extra $3,000 (part of the technology package).

And the good news is, if you like the looks of the Mazda6, you can whittle the price down to $20,240 by opting for the base i Sport trim level. And that is where the true value lies. Even at this level, you still get features like cruise control, steering-wheel mounted controls, stability control and traction control. It does, however, come with the 6-speed manual transmission, so you'll have to add $1,000 for the automatic.

The Mazda6 comes with two engine options: the base 2.5-liter I-4 engine that delivers 170 horsepower, and the up-level 3.7-liter V-6 that delivers 272 horsepower. To upgrade to this engine, you'll have to jump up to the s Touring Plus model, which has a base price of $27,330.

The past couple times I've had the Mazda6 as a test vehicle, I've had a 4-cylinder engine, and I have to say: I don't love it. While it's quick off the start, the passing gear is nothing special, and the overall engine noise is a little loud for my taste. Especially when  you're looking at a vehicle that costs more than $20K. It just seems a little too entry level for a car that's considered top-of-the-line for a brand. I mean, when you think about it, if you add $2K to $4K to the price of the test vehicle, you start buying into entry-level luxury:
  • Volvo S40
  • BMW 1 Series
  • Saab 9-3
  • Acura TSX
I'm just saying.

The great thing about the Mazda6, however, is the ride and handling. It has a stiffer suspension and a sportier ride than a lot of other non-luxury vehicles, and you can definitely see that "Zoom-Zoom" heritage. I personally just wanted a little more zoom, and think I would be better suited to the V-6 model.

The interior of the Mazda6 test vehicle was basic with the standard 6-speaker audio system and lack of up-level options. No leather, no heated seats, no navigation. The cloth seating surfaces were attractive and comfortable, and the simple center stack was plain but nice looking.

The two options on the test vehicle were the pearl paint ($200) and the satellite radio package ($430). I could have done without both of those -- especially that pearl paint, which happened to be "Techno White." In a place like Chicago, the land of salt, snow, dirty rain and other inclement weather, you just can't keep a white car clean.

The exterior of the Mazda6 has the nice chiseled lines around the front fenders that come directly from the RX-8 and have been carried throughout the Mazda line. Yet the rear of the vehicle is all swoop and curves. You definitely see the family resemblance, but where the Mazda3 looks more whimsical, the Mazda6 is more grown up.

My favorite feature on this car was the ground illumination, which originates  from the side mirrors. Whenever I approached the car and unlocked the doors, the exterior was lit up, which not only helped me see better for entry purposes but also made me feel safer as I could easily see that there was no one or nothing suspicious surrounding the car.

For a mid-size sedan, the Mazda6 really has a lot going for it. And while it's starting to grow on me, I'll need some seat time in the 6-cylinder model before I render a final verdict. But is it worth a test if you're looking at mid-size vehicles? Absolutely.

Jill Ciminillo

Jill has been writing about cars for more than 15 years, representing the female point of view amongst her predominantly male colleagues. And since something like 80 percent of all car-buying decisions are either made by or influenced by women, that's nothing to sneeze at. Formerly the online automotive editor for the Chicago Sun-Times, the print auto editor for Pioneer Press Newspapers and the automotive editor for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, this 5th percentile (aka petite) female tells it like it is from the fun to the functional. Jill recently served as the first female president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and currently sits on its Board of Directors as President Emeritus. Jill is a syndicated automotive writer and acts as the managing editor for the Pickup Truck + SUV Talk website.