New Car Review
2017 Mazda6: New Car Review
The 2017 Mazda6 sedan dares to blaze its own path, with distinctive styling, a lavish interior and a heavy emphasis on handling and safety. Of course, a sea of extremely competitive sedans are available to consumers, including the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Kia Optima, Chrysler 200, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu, all of which offer more powerful engine options and, in some cases, all-wheel drive. On the flip side, the 2017 Mazda6 shuns the somewhat generic designs of its competitors with a curvaceous and sophisticated body, outstanding driving dynamics and an interior that's technologically savvy without being overly complicated. Best of all, the Mazda6 achieves impressive fuel economy and power from its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder SKYACTIV engine, though Mazda had to recalibrate those figures downward this year in accordance with EPA standards.
As we mentioned above, if there's a weak spot in the Mazda6's roster of goodies, it's the lack of a V6 or turbocharged engine. And we've all but given up on the promise of a diesel Mazda6, meaning that despite its impressive fuel economy, the Mazda6 can't compete with the mileage figures posted by the Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry hybrids. On the plus side, the Mazda6 still offers a manual transmission, an option we know few buyers will opt for but that enthusiasts will love.
What's New for 2017?
G-Vectoring control is made standard, while the base Sport model gains Mazda Connect infotainment with a 7-inch touchscreen and rearview camera. The Touring trim gets Smart City Brake Support (autonomous braking), while the Grand Touring goes even further, adding lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition and auto high-beam control.
What We Like
Sporty handling; good fuel economy; expressive styling both in and out; long list of tech features; ample rear-seat room; simple navigation upgrade with available SD card
What We Don't
Choppy ride quality with 19-in wheels; manual models shut out from more desirable audio and moonroof option; small trunk; no hybrid or V6 options
The 2017 Mazda6 offers only one powertrain: a 184-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Efficiency-minded shoppers won't be clamoring for a V6 because the 4-cylinder returns impressive fuel economy thanks to its SKYACTIV technology, which saves weight and boosts efficiency. Once again, the automatic is the best bet, returning 26 miles per gallon in the city, 35 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg in combined driving. When teamed with the i-ELOOP option, fuel economy inches up to 27 mpg city/35 mpg hwy/30 mpg combined. Manual models return 24 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 Mazda6 is offered in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The Sport and Touring trims offer a choice of a manual or automatic transmission, while the Grand Touring comes equipped with an automatic only.
The Mazda6 Sport ($22,780) comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry, push-button start, an AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers and a USB audio input, Bluetooth phone connectivity, the Mazda Connect suite with a 7-in touchscreen, a rearview camera, 17-in alloy wheels, dual power mirrors, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 6-way manual driver's seat with manual lumbar support, a manual passenger-seat lifter, an electronic parking brake, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, and a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel. Add an extra $1,050 to get the automatic transmission with the sport-mode button.
There are no option packages for the Sport, though some dealer-installed options include rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and front fog lights. Vehicles equipped with Mazda Connect and the 7-in touchscreen can be updated to include navigation by purchasing a simple SD navigation-upgrade card from your Mazda dealer.
The Mazda6 Touring ($25,030) has all the features found on the Sport trim, plus dual-zone automatic air conditioning, a blind spot monitoring system and a power driver's seat. The Mazda6 Touring also boasts leatherette seats, Advanced Key keyless entry and start, Smart City Brake Support, rain-sensing wipers, auto on/off headlights, handsome 19-in alloy wheels and rear cross-traffic alert safety technology.
Touring models equipped with the automatic transmission have two choices for options packages. The Moonroof/Bose/Satellite Radio package ($1,325) is self-explanatory, while the Premium package ($1,425) adds LED headlights with auto leveling, adaptive front lighting, heated side mirrors, an auto-dimming driver's-side mirror and heated front seats (and must be ordered in conjunction with the Moonroof/Bose/Satellite package).
The Mazda6 Grand Touring ($31,530) includes all the equipment found in the two optional Touring trim packages, plus an automatic transmission, leather seats, LED fog lights, an 8-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support, a 6-way power passenger seat, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, navigation and adaptive front headlights. Also standard are adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, forward collision warning, a full-color active drive display and traffic-sign recognition.
The Grand Touring Premium package ($2,500) adds i-ELOOP active grille shutters, a black headliner, heated rear seats, Nappa leather seating and a heated steering wheel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2017 Mazda6 a 5-star overall safety score, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) bestows its highest score of Good in all crash tests, including the small-overlap front crash test (where last year's car earned only an Acceptable rating). IIHS also lists the Mazda6 as a Top Safety Pick.
The Mazda6 comes standard with stability control, traction control and eight airbags. All models include a rearview camera. The Mazda6's Bluetooth technology displays text messages on the sedan's center screen and even reads them aloud so drivers won't be distracted by their cellphones.
Behind the Wheel
There's no doubt the Mazda6 is aimed at shoppers eager to occasionally test their car's limits on a curvy road, but that's not to say traditional midsize-sedan buyers won't like it, too.
The 2.5-liter engine is powerful enough for most driving situations, especially when paired with the brand's SKYACTIV-Drive automatic, which boasts crisp shifts that Mazda says are quicker than those of the dual-clutch transmissions in competitors. Of course, in true Mazda fashion, the 6-speed stick is also a joy thanks to short throws and a predictable clutch. In Touring and Grand Touring trims, the larger wheel-and-tire combo can deliver a rather stiff ride. Those who enjoy the driving experience won't mind sacrificing ride quality, but for the comfort-minded, there's no shame in choosing a more pliant rival.
As for the Mazda6's technology features, they definitely enhance the driving experience. The radar cruise control, for instance, works with a simple steering-wheel-mounted button. In our tests, it was always easy to program and kept a predictable following distance. The same is true for Mazda's blind spot monitoring system, which warns drivers if another vehicle is in the car's blind spot. In the event of an impending low-speed collision, Smart City Brake Support will actively slow and even stop the car.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Ford Fusion -- The Ford Fusion possesses an impressive interior, a wide array of powertrains, excellent gas mileage and competitive pricing. There are also two hybrid versions and one all-wheel-drive model.
2017 Honda Accord -- Honda's latest Accord also offers new styling, strong fuel economy and driver-focused dynamics that will rival those of the Mazda6, though its styling isn't as bold and its handling not as precise.
2017 Toyota Camry -- The Camry appeals to shoppers who need a practical midsize sedan but don't want the sporty feel or choppy ride offered by the Mazda6.
Used Audi A4 -- A 2012-2015 Audi A4 will give you more luxury, more power and better traction when equipped with quattro all-wheel drive.
While we're impressed by the wide array of electronics on the upscale Grand Touring model, a midlevel Mazda6 Touring with the Moonroof/Bose/Satellite Radio package is fine with us. It includes everything you need without going overboard. And unless you just have to have a manual transmission, we suggest the faster, more efficient 6-speed automatic. It will be easier to resell, too.