2014 Mazda6
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Our newest long-termer – the Soul Red 2014 Mazda6 seen here – arrived in my driveway at the end of June. Without hesitation, I immediately put it to work as a daily driver, carpool bus and family vacation sled, and it accomplished all of those tasks with aplomb. Now, more than 4,000 miles down the road, I am left convinced that Mazda's latest midsize sedan is one of the best in its segment.

During the past 60 days, I have subjected the Mazda6 to scorching travel across Southwestern deserts, wheezing climbs over 8,000-foot-high Sierra Nevada mountain passes and basking in the cool ocean breezes of Malibu. It traveled with four passengers and a full load of luggage from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe, and it braved the bumper-to-bumper freeway congestion on a weekday trip down to San Diego. It accomplished everything that was asked of while hardly skipping a beat – it has only required a regular sip of unleaded fuel to keep it moving forward.
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Looking back through my notes, most of my praise is directed at the styling and chassis. This Mazda looks good in pictures, and it's equally as impressive in person. More than a few passers-by have done double-takes and asked about the car after I parked, many drawn in by its Kodo-inspired styling that helps set it apart from its competitors. Hidden beneath its curvaceous sheetmetal is a very sturdy chassis, and the 3,232-pound sedan has proven to be rock-solid over just about every road surface without exhibiting any signs of body flex, squeaks or rattles within the passenger compartment.

Rear seat passengers have consistently commented on the comfort of the second row, mentioning generous toe room beneath the front seats.

The cabin is equally as remarkable. My six-foot, two-inch frame has been pleased with the driving position, and the well-bolstered seats and thickly-padded center armrest have only added to the comfort. What's more, my six-foot tall son has lodged no complaints sitting directly behind me (I haven't had to move the seat forward even an inch to make room). Rear seat passengers have consistently commented on the comfort of the second row, mentioning generous toe room beneath the front seats, effective second-row air vents on the aft end of the middle console and convenient dual cupholders in both outboard positions (located in the door pockets and on the top of the center armrest). The huge trunk also deserves a mention, easily swallowing luggage for four adults, plenty of camera gear or a 29-inch mountain bike in a pinch.

Of course, there are always a few rough edges. Most cursed is the Mazda6's navigation system and its 5.8-inch touchscreen display. I have found it frustrating to use on many levels. Not only is it slow, it lacks detail and stubbornly refuses to hold a street-level zoom when asked (during more than one trip, I have set my smartphone in front of the factory screen and used it instead). The company has a new navigation system in its 2014 Mazda3, and I'm hoping it's a good system that finds its way into this car with a quickness.

I have also come to realize that the fuel gauge is terribly inaccurate. It reads completely full for 100 miles and then plummets inconsistently as the balance of fuel is consumed (I have learned to rely solely on the "distance to empty" readout). Lastly, we deserve better night illumination on some of the switchgear (start with the driver's door) and a real engine temperature gauge (a tiny blue dashboard symbol that extinguishes after two minutes doesn't cut it).

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Despite its youthful styling and seemingly aggressive 19-inch wheels, the Mazda6 is not really a sport sedan. It's among the most entertaining of its direct competitors, however, and is very enjoyable around town, with wonderful steering feel, firm brakes and responsive handling. Yet when pushed beyond about six-tenths, its brakes get hot and the suspension starts to understeer in safe protest (I would argue that its stock springs are a bit too soft, especially with four adults on board). But nobody will notice on the highway, as this sedan excels at high-speed cruising where its impressive aerodynamics and stable demeanor take center stage. I should mention that Mazda's optional Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) and Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) have been very easy to operate, and both are extremely helpful driving aids – I wouldn't order the car without them.

I found the 2.5-liter inline-four more thrifty than thrilling.

I found the 2.5-liter inline-four, rated at 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, more thrifty than thrilling. With just one soul on board, the excellent six-speed automatic moves the sedan with ease. However, when more passengers and luggage are added, the four-cylinder quickly becomes overburdened, especially on a hot day or when altitude gets added to the mix. Pulling into fast-moving traffic and overtaking maneuvers requires planning. During a family trip over a high mountain range, the Mazda6 didn't have enough scoot to safely pass a heavy truck – I was left crawling up the hill wishing for a small turbocharger or an extra liter of displacement (or, better yet, the upcoming diesel with about 300 pound-feet of torque).

But that is the cost of fuel efficiency. As of this writing, our sedan has had 6,167 miles pass under its chassis. I calculated that it has consumed a total of 200.45 gallons of regular unleaded, for an overall average of 29.75 mpg (it was delivered with 204 miles on the odometer, so those miles were subtracted). The worst logged fuel economy was 23.24 mpg (nearly all stop-and-go city travel), while the best was 36.78 mpg (pure highway, with four passengers on board at 70 mph). The EPA rates the sedan at 26 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, with a combined number of 30 mpg – note our combined fuel economy is nearly spot-on. With a lighter foot and fewer passengers on board, I have seen 40+ mpg on the open road many times. Also, do note that our long-termer is not fitted with Mazda's new i-Eloop regenerative braking system, which reportedly increases fuel economy numbers to 28/40 mpg (city/highway). Based on the more enthusiastic way in which this car has been driven, I suspect it will be easy for normal drivers to achieve this car's window sticker numbers far more easily than they might in competing sedans.

2014 Mazda6

The Mazda continues to run flawlessly. Well, almost. Its only hiccup occurring just last week during a late-summer hot spell when the car was parked out in the blistering sun. With the outside temperature gauge on the dashboard reading a sweltering 108 degrees Fahrenheit, the automatic mode on the HVAC shut itself down two or three times (the system would go completely quiet). Once the car was cooled, it didn't happen again. Very odd, and it only occurred that time.

Climbing into the driver's seat of the Mazda6 is a pleasure, regardless of the mission ahead.

Last week, the sedan went into Neftin Mazda, in Thousand Oaks, CA, for its first service, which included a vehicle inspection, tire rotation and synthetic oil change. We were treated like VIP customers, and 90 minutes later, they tossed us the keys to our now sparkling clean Mazda6. We handed them $108.51 for the service.

Overall, the new Mazda has left me nothing but impressed. While I have nitpicked more than a few items in this update, the list of pros greatly outweighs the cons. Truth is, climbing into the driver's seat of the Mazda6 is a pleasure, regardless of the mission ahead. Next month, this Soul Red sedan will make a cross-country trip as it heads to Detroit for the winter. It will certainly be missed on the West Coast.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 124 Comments
      Mario
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think is the best looking car in the segment, I just wish that Mazda would offer hatchback again or even station wagon.
        Greg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mario
        The wagon is awesome, and if they sold one I'd already own one. However, they don't sell well, so I can't fault them for not having it. My next car will replace either a hatchback or a sports car, so although I love the 6 as-is, I'm waiting to see if they do offer a wagon or speed variants, or maybe a speed wagon.
      Kuro Houou
      • 1 Year Ago
      Drove the Mazda 6 and the new Mazda 3 yesterday. I have to say they really got a lot of car out of the Mazda 6 for what you pay. Great MPG for a car that size. Driving them back to back though you really feel the weight/softness of the suspension in the Mazda 6. The new Mazda 3 really feels like a good handling light car. The interiors are very close as well, I sat in the Grand Touring Mazda 6 but only a Touring Mazda 3.. so no leather or nav in the 3, lower end model of it. The Mazda 6 and 3 feel just as comfy up front for my 6'2" body. In the rear you obviously loose space in the 3, about an inch or two all around. But I never sit back there to begin with :) But from a driving standpoint the 3 just felt much more fun, and that was with the 2.0l engine. Also like many complain about the nav on the 6 never should have gone in there. I hope they fix that in the 2015 model, but I don't see it happening until the 2016 when the next real refresh will occur. That alone I think is making me drift closer to getting the Mazda 3.. but really I don't feel ill loose anything going with the 3 except a little room in the back.
        don
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        can you share more about the mazda 3? I am cross shopping the 6 and 3. I will probably stay with the 2.0 for price considerations. if i bump up to the 3 s w bigger eng then i think i would just get the 6. You said 3 handled excellent, was it a manual or auto? Thanks
        dohc73
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        I sat in both as well recently and the 6 is an impressive car in many ways. I wouldn't have believed it until I saw it for myself, but the faux-leather in the mid-level model actually feels better than the real deal. It looks great too. The 3's as a hatch (no sedans on the lot yet) looks great from the outside although, the entry-level wheels look way too small for the new body and in my opinion, really degrade the overall looks. Not sure why everyone was so down on the current 3's interior quality because the new 3's quality appears to have gone down here and there. It looks more cohesive and attractive, but there was most definitely more hard plastics in major spots that I think looked kinda not good. For instance, in models without the navigation, in place of the control-knob in the console is a cheezy little cup to hold things in, but the surrounding trim is loose fitting and doesn't look very well put together. Also, the gauge cluster's roof is another cheap piece of plastic that also feels loose and flimsy. Anywhere there was soft-touch plastic, was not where hands would usually touch. Makes no sense, but almost every manufacturer is mis-using soft touch plastics in this way. I would wait for a higher version of the 3 because the entry-level version is not as nice as what you got in the out-going version at the same level. For 22-grand, one shouldn't expect much or complain I guess, but for 24.5-grand, with a manual tranny, the interior doesn't have the same issues in the 6.
      Carmaker1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mazda did a very outstanding job on the 6. My parents bought a Grand Touring in March as a basic supplemental car and barely looks out of place in visual appeal in their compound, next to Audi, Bentley, BMWs, Jaguar, Infiniti, and Mercedes-Benz. To think how far Mazda 626/6 design and quality has come since the boxy 1991 626 (GD) they owned 2 decades ago. It's likely that Mazda never got over Ford cancelling the Amati luxury, so the severing of the partnership partially reinvigorated it, while factoring in cost factors. The interior materials in some areas are shockingly better than those in my 2008 G35S.
      Justin
      • 1 Year Ago
      Beautiful car in person.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      The best looking Midsizer. Makes the Camry looks as dull as dishwater.
      Trent
      • 1 Year Ago
      I am so happy to see Mazda put out some really great cars. We loved our 2006 Mazda 3 and would not think twice about owning another. Now I just need to see if I can fit this 6'5" body into the drivers seat?
      domingorobusto
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm REALLY hoping they come out with a Mazdaspeed version of this car. I was VERY impressed with the Grand Touring I test drove it, but as you said it's underpowered (for my taste, it's perfectly adequate for normal people), the brakes don't hold up to spirited driving for long, and the suspension tuning, while very impressive for the class, does start to give up when pushed hard. Strap a turbo to the engine (which should easily yield around 300 hp considering the displacement), stiffen up the suspension a little, and throw some bigger brakes under it and it would make for a seriously fun car. I'm definitely going to try the diesel variant when it debuts (oh please oh please let there be a manual with the diesel), but a Mazdaspeed would be more what I really want.
        Ducman69
        • 1 Year Ago
        @domingorobusto
        Pad fade might be a cheap fix of just replacing the pads with some that are efficient at higher temps. They might just be cheap organics that are made for low dust at the sacrifice of repeat use.
      Goahead
      • 1 Year Ago
      FINALLY!!! The smiley faces are gone!!!
      Stringer Bell
      • 1 Year Ago
      We are expecting our first baby soon and am looking at the Mazda 6 and the Honda Accord Touring Edition. Anyone have comments on these two? We obviously need a big back seat and trunk. Also, how is the road noise on this Mazda? I currently drive a '04 Mazda 3, which is very loud.
        greenz1977
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Stringer Bell
        The road noise is very quiet in the new Mazda 6. There is plenty of back seat legroom and the trunk is freaking huge. A friend of mine has a 2013 Honda Accord and he likes the design of the Mazda more but I wouldn't say he is unhappy with the Honda. I bought my car because I wanted a manual transmission and Mazda still offers one. He bought the Honda for the lease deal he got.
        navinindardeo726
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Stringer Bell
        go for the Mazda. Ask and tech Honda are only problems, with 100k transmission
        Lewis deSoto
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Stringer Bell
        Take a look at the turbo charged Kia Optima SX or its Hyundai equivalent. I think there is more car there for the money, plus the 100,000 mile warranty.
      bullitt2605
      • 1 Year Ago
      I parked next to one of these a couple of days ago, looked just like this one. Very very nice!
      B.unit
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wish Mazda would add lighting into all the window switches, as well as one touch up and down like my vw does, the lights in every button makes it a lot easier to see them at night and it's nice to be able to roll up all the windows down or up in seconds.
        AAAA
        • 1 Year Ago
        @B.unit
        Eventually, won't you know what each button does after driving it for awhile? I drive a Civic and there's 8 buttons on my steering wheel, 4 for audio and 4 for cruise control. I know what and where to press without taking my eyes off the road.
      nobelss
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is it a review or a commercial for mazda 6?
        Michael Harley
        • 1 Year Ago
        @nobelss
        Ouch. - Mike
        jtav2002
        • 1 Year Ago
        @nobelss
        I bet had he completely trashed the car you would have been okay with that, wouldn't you? Save for some technical specs, a review is nothing more than the opinion of the person doing the review. Overall he obviously likes the car. That doesn't mean it's a commercial for the car. Plenty of cars get high praise on here. Does that mean the only credible reviews are those where the reviewer didn't like the car?
        domingorobusto
        • 1 Year Ago
        @nobelss
        He pointed out several faults with it. He mentioned that it can be somewhat underpowered, the nav is borderline horrible, and that the suspension gives up when really pushed. Is it really so hard for you to believe that everything else was as good as he said?
        Myself
        • 1 Year Ago
        @nobelss
        No. The car's just that good.
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