Rob Douthit, Wed, 26 Aug 2009 10:43:30 PDT
For a few years now, the Mazda 6 has been one of the most spirited mid-size sedans on the market, thanks to its great driving characteristics and its handsome appearance.For the 2010 model year, the Mazda 6 gets a little big bigger and takes on some revisions to its design.
The results, though, are still favorable; the Mazda 6 remains one of the best non-luxury brand mid-size sedans you can buy.The Mazda 6 has styling cues that are similar to its Rx-8 coupe sibling, noticeable especially at the front fenders.
The fast rear roofline and backlight suggest speed, and the sheet metal is wrapped tightly around the 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. But beauty is present beyond just the exterior. The Mazda's all new interior design is clean and elegantly simple, enhanced by quality materials.
The major gauges, with their pulsing blue halos, have a really cool look. And we were pleasantly surprised that the bolstering on the front seats was slightly aggressive, nicely matching with the sporty message conveyed by the exterior.
On the other hand, the Mazda has a nifty touch we haven't seen anywhere else in this class: a three-position switch for adjusting headlight level ideal for occasions when you've filled the trunk with heavy stuff such as cement bags or your mother-in-law.
The Mazda's standard transmission is a six-speed manual, which is a satisfying piece of equipment with short throws and positive engagements. The Mazda's four-cylinder is 2.5 liters and 170 horsepower, up from 2.3 liters and 156 horsepower.
The Mazda 6 posts an impressive sprint time: 0 to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds.Fuel-economy estimates stand at 20 mpg city/29 highway and 23 combined for four-cylinder models with the manual transmission, while the five-speed auto improves the four's numbers to 21 mpg city/30 highway and 24 combined. These are class-competitive numbers.
However, if you opt for the V6, estimates drop to 17 mpg city/25 highway and 20 combined, which is about as bad as it gets in this segment.
We can honestly say that the all new 6 showed that the handling and aggressiveness hasn't been diminished by the increase in size over the previous model. There are subtle distinctions over its predecessor, and they are all good. Brake pedal feel was impressive in comparison to its competitors. The Mazda turned in readily, with responsive handling.
The Mazda's freeway ride was good. Pavement imperfections barely ruffle the 6's composure, even when it's equipped with the optional 18-inch wheels. Its suspension tuning was more overtly sporty than the competition.
A notable amount of road noise filters into the 6's cabin at speed. The five-speed automatic provides remarkably refined shifts. The big 3.7-liter V6 feels and sounds muscular, yet it's a smooth operator, even at higher engine speeds.
Handling is impressive for a big family sedan, and it even tosses pretty well in corners.Pricing remains quite reasonable, starting at around $20,320 for a base four-cylinder, ranging to around $28,390 for the highest end model.
There's probably enough zoom in this chassis to placate those who like to drive, while the average shopper will appreciate the 6's reasonably compliant ride.
If styling is a high priority, the 2010 Mazda 6 looks like a winner. And we don't think there's much chance that it would disappoint its owners in matters of fun to drive.