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.