The Mazda6 is the best affordable midsize sedan in America for drivers. What do you need to know before you buy a Mazda6? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.
Midsize sedans aren’t often appreciated their ability to perform, but as the best-selling car segment in the United States you do get a decent range of offerings. While there are more powerful cars in this class, the Mazda6 is the ones that offers the most for the daily driver who likes to drive.
The Mazda6 also offers an attractive suite of options, distinct styling, and impressive fuel economy at a price that puts it on the more affordable end of the spectrum
There are two kinds of drivers: People who take the long, twisty way to work and people who’d rather get on the Interstate and risk bumper-to-bumper traffic so they can play Candy Crush.
If you’re the latter, you’re not going to care that the Mazda6 has steering that actually communicates what the road is doing to the driver, or that you can get it with an actual manual transmission.
If you’re the former, you’ll swear the Mazda6 is a smaller car than it is. While the Skactiv engine only squeezes out 185 horsepower, that’s plenty when matched either to the great six-speed manual or the trick almost-dual-clutch automatic.
Around town it’s composed and sips gas, but if you’re really on it you can switch down to a lower gear and push the Mazda6 faster through the twisties than you can in the heavier competition.
It’s not a Miata, but it was clearly built by the same people who build Miatas.
The third generation Mazda6 bowed at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2013 as a completely ground-up all-new model. The chassis and suspension were new, the engines were new, the transmissions were new, the interior was new, the exterior styling was completely new. Needless to say, the 2014 Mazda6 was nothing like its Ford-based predecessor.
The following year, 2015, brought few changes. The Touring trim got a Bose/Moonroof/Satellite Radio Package and base models got one-touch up/down windows.
Mazda made quite a few small changes to 6 for 2016. The top trim, the Grand Touring, gets a new front bumper and grille design, new LED taillights, new headlights, new 19” wheels, and a few other aesthetic alterations. The automatic Touring model can now be had with the Technology Package, which gives it heated seats, a unique front fascia, and special LED lighting.
All trims minus the base manual Sport now get a new, bigger 7-inch touchscreen display for the MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system and every 6 now sports an electriconic park brake in place of the standard cable brake on previous models. Say goodbye to handbrake turns, folks.
Mazda offers you one engine option on the 6: a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated direct-injected inline four. It cranks out 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s no lugging around much weight, so acceleration is respectable at about seven seconds to 60.
To change gears, Mazda offers either an engaging 6-speed manual or an efficient 6-speed automatic.
2016 Mazda6 Engine Options
Engine Max Horsepower (hp) Max Torque (lb-ft) 2.5L I4 184 @ 5700 rpm 185 @ 3250 rpm
The Mazda6 gets the best fuel economy of any non-hybrid in the mid-size car segment. How did Mazda do it, you ask? Well, Mazda likes to tout the efforts of their engineers, so they want us to use their trademarked buzzword that ryhmes with “Guy Tractive.”
Instead we’ll just tell you that Mazda sweated the details and reduced powertrain efficiency losses. That means they cut down friction losses, pumping losses, and churning losses, converting the energy that would normally be expelled as heat into mechanical work.
But Mazda didn’t just come at it from a “powertrain efficiency” side, they also attacked fuel economy from a “vehicle demand” side; basically, they reduced how much energy the vehicle needs to go down the road by cutting down aerodynamic drag and, crucially, by reducing vehicle mass.
What resulted was a car with an efficient powertrain, a lightweight, slippery body and class-leading fuel economy.
The 6 with the 6-speed automatic and i-Eloop regenerative braking and active grille shutters (AGS) scores a remarkable 32 MPG combined. The non-regen automatic gets a respectable 31, while the fun 6-speed manual sits at the bottom at 29 MPG combined.
Fuel economy is the Mazda’s strong suit.
2016 Mazda6 Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Highway/Combined)
2.5-liter I4 Fuel Economy- Auto 28/40/32 (w/ regen braking & AGS)
Fuel Economy- Manual 25/37/29
The Mazda6 comes with 10.9-inch solid disc brakes in the back with 11.7 vented rotors up front. Steering is electric, suspension is a MacPherson strut front up front and a multi-link setup in the rear.
Mazda offers three main trim levels on their excellent mid-size sedan: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring.
- Sport: Starts at $21,495. Notable standard features: 2.5-liter I4, 6-speed manual transmission, 17” alloy wheels,6-speaker audio system, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, manual cloth seats, cruise control, power windows, power locks, air conditioning, Bluetooth, halogen headlights with auto-off, power side mirrors. Notable options: Automatic transmission: adds sport mode, 7”touchscreen display for infotainment system, HD radio, rearview camera ($1,500); fog lights ($370); rear park sensors ($475); remote start (auto only—$550).
- Touring: Starts at $23,945. Notable standard features over Sport: dual-zone automatic climate control, 19” alloy wheels, power driver’s seat, leatherette-trimmed seats, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear HVAC ducts, proximity keyless entry, 7”touchscreen display for infotainment system, HD radio, rearview camera. Notable options: Notable options: Automatic transmission ($1,050); Moonroof/Bose/Satellite Radio Package: Power moonroof, Bose 11-speaker sound system, Satellite radio (auto only—$1,325); Technology Package: LED automatic headlights with auto leveling, LED daytime running lights, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, heated exterior mirrors, low-speed forward collision warning with automatic braking (auto only—$1,675+Moonroof/Bose/Satellite Radio Package); fog lights ($370); rear park sensors ($475); remote start (auto only-$550).
- Grand Touring: Starts at $30,195. Notable standard features over Touring: automatic transmission, unique front bumper and grille, heated side mirrors, auto on/off LED headlights with auto-leveling, 19” unique alloy wheels, paddle shifters, LED daytime running lights, satellite radio, heated power front seats, leather seats, power moonroof, rear lip spoiler, auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, navigation system with traffic updates, Bose 11-speaker audio system, low-speed forward collision warning with automatic braking. Notable options: Technology Package: adaptive cruise control with, Smart Brake Support with Collision Warning, regenerative braking system, lane departure warning, high beam control, active grille shutters; rear park sensors ($475); remote start ($550).
Have you ever studied your butt off for an exam only to find that all the questions are easy as pie? That’s how we feel about the question “Which Mazda6 Trim Would You Buy?”
That’s partly because it’s hard to be wrong since the 6 is such an excellent offering.
But we’re enthusiasts, so we’d undoubtedly go for a manual. What better way to complement the 6’s agile chassis than to row your own gears? That means we can either opt for the base model Sport or the Touring.
The base 6 comes in at $22,615 with destination and is well-equipped with automatic headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, power windows and locks, push-button start, Bluetooth, a 6-speaker audio system and front and side airbags.
For another $2,500, the Touring is also a decent choice, coming with automatic climate control, bigger 19-inch alloy wheels, power driver’s seat, proximity keyless entry, rear HVAC ducts, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
We’d get the base 6, but for those looking for a little more equipment, the manual Touring is great, too.
MSRP: $21,495-$30,195 Top Speed: ~130MPH (estimated)
Acceleration: ~7.0s to 60
MPG: 25-28 city / 37-40 hwy / 29-32 combined [manual-auto w/tech pkg]
Engines: 2.5-liter I4
Max Horsepower/Torque: 184 hp/185 lb-ft
Curb Weight: ~3,179-3,250 IIHS Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick +
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front Engine, FWD
Photo credit: Mazda