2015 Mazda 6 Review

2015 Mazda 6 - The 2015 Mazda6 is a good substitute for a costly foreign sedan.


Prices: $21,190-$29,895

The 2015 Mazda6 is a roomy, sporty mid-sized sedan with a fun-to-drive personality and sparkling fuel economy. No wonder its sales are escalating in the highly competitive mid-size car market, which includes the formidable Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

The 2015 Mazda6 is mostly a carry-over from the fairly recently redesigned Mazda6 with updates to select features and packaging options.

Mazda doesn't promote this model as a BMW or Mercedes fighter, but rather as a sporty, roomy, economical family car. For one thing, it has front-wheel drive, instead of the rear-drive traditionally found with high-performance foreign sedans.

Yet, my rakish-looking Mazda6 Grand Touring model, complete with bright dual exhaust outlets, drove like a smaller, handy car. It had nicely weighted, but rather firm, electric-assisted power steering and sharp handling with 19-inch wheels and an all-independent suspension containing front/rear stabilizer bars.

It also featured dynamic stability control and traction control systems and four-wheel disc brakes that had a progressive pedal feel and a brake-assist feature.

A driver can easily activate "Sport" mode, which tightens the steering and suspension for more spirited driving, via a dashboard control. Such systems in some other cars are nearly useless, but this one works well.

The test car's ride was pleasant, helped by the nicely designed suspension and a fairly long wheelbase, which helps allow a spacious interior. The rear seats don't skimp on thigh support, but the center of the backseat is best left to the large fold-down armrest with dual cupholders. The interior would score higher points if the door storage pockets were larger.  

The quiet, upscale cabin is user-friendly, with large rotary climate controls and a nearly 6-inch color touch-screen display that's relatively easy to use. Gauges can be quickly read, even in bright sunlight.

Passengers have wide door openings, but the opening for the Mazda6's large trunk is rather high. Rear seatbacks can be flipped forward via trunk controls and allow an impressively roomy cargo area.

Air bags and side curtains help keep occupants safe in a collision.

The award-winning Mazda6's list prices start at $21,190 for the Sport model and end at $29,895 for the Grand Touring model. In between is the $23,845 Touring model.
The Grand Touring's items include dual-zone automatic climate control,  leather-trimmed heated/ power front sport seats, rearview camera,19-inch alloy wheels with a Platinum Silver finish and a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Grand Touring comes only with a responsive six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle controls, but you can get other Mazda6 models with the automatic or a six-speed manual transmission.  

The entry level Sport ($22,895 with automatic) also has a good amount of equipment,  including a push-button start, air conditioning, tilt/telescopic steering column and 60/40 split fold-down rear seats. New standard features for 2015 include power windows with a one-touch up/down operation for all windows. Also, a rearview camera now comes with automatic-transmission models.

The mid-range Touring, which costs $24,895 with the automatic. has a stamdard power driver's seat, Blind Sport Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, besides a new standard Mazda Advance Keyless Entry system.

Also new for 2015 is the Bose/Moonroof/Satellite Audio Package for $1,325. It includes a power moonroof with a one-touch open/close feature.

One of the best options is the $1,550 Touring Technology Package, which contains automatic on/off headlights, heated side mirrors-and, importantly, Smart City Brake Support (SCBS). It's a pre-crash avoidance safety feature designed to help a driver in "reducing the extent" of front collisions when moving at speeds between 2 and 19 miles per hour. If a driver fails to perform an avoidance maneuver, the SCBS system will activate an automatic braking function.

All Mazda6 versions are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 184 horsepower and and 185 pound/feet of torque at only 3,250 r.p.m.. The engine reacts like a good V-6. It provides swift acceleration in town and on highways, partly because the Mazda6 is relatively light at about 3,200 pounds, thanks partly to use of lightweight, high-strength steel.

Estimated fuel economy is a strong point. The Mazda6 is rated at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 37 on highways with a manual transmission. Automatic transmissions get an EPA fuel economy rating of 26 city and 38 highway.

When the automatic is paired with a new capacitor-based regenerative engine braking "i-Eloop" system, the EPA rating is 28 city and 40 highway. My test Mazda6 had that system and the gas gauge needle didn't move after several hours of city/freeway driving.

The fairly long, heavy hood is held open only with a prop rod instead of  hydraulic struts, which would be more in keeping with the car's upscale nature.

Folks shopping for a mid-size sedan should check out the Mazda6. Judging by its higher sales figures, many are doing just that.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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