• Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
  • Image Credit: Jeremy Korzeniewski
The Winter Without End is seemingly dead. Outside my office windows, my brown and yellow lawn is fully exposed to the increasingly powerful sunshine, the morning birdsong is louder than anything until the garbage trucks start rolling, and I'm seriously considering having the summer tires put back on my personal fleet. That last one is a little scary, as I'm a firm believer in the April Snow Jinx, but you get the idea.

The long-term Mazda6 has also long since left my driveway. Looking back on my notes from the time it was in my charge, however, I see all remarks are dominated by one highlighted section at the top: "worst winter drive of all time." I hardly need the reminder, to be honest. Here's what happened.

When the Mazda showed up at my door, we'd already fitted the thing with its new winter rubber: Bridgestone Blizzaks. Plunking down for dedicated snow tires was a near necessity this year – as it almost always is in Michigan. We didn't see much reprieve from snow-choked, iced over roads here in Ann Arbor, and the knobbier rubber proved invaluable in getting me out of my house time and again.
2014 Mazda62014 Mazda62014 Mazda6

Our loaner Mazda6 pulled like a draft horse up and out of the drifting accumulation.

Obviously front-wheel-drive cars throng the Snowbelt for their usefulness in low-grip scenarios, but good tires give an added advantage in all situations. I live at the bottom of a fairly sizable hill, on a tertiary neighborhood street that is near last in line to see the plow's blade after a snowfall. Plenty of my neighbors fell victim to the combination of said hill and all-season tires on their front-drive Focus and Civic daily drivers, while our loaner Mazda6 pulled like a draft horse up and out of the drifting accumulation.

It's hard to say what affect the sturdier rubber had on dry roads, for a few reasons. One, I barely saw an un-iced piece of pavement in the time I drove the Six. Two, the last time I'd driven this model on summer rubber, I'd been on the smooth roads and grippy, hot asphalt of the Texas Hill Country. Let me say this, on long, dry stretches of highway driving, I didn't notice much more in the way of tire noise or ride compromise than I'd remembered from that first go. Suffice it to say that I didn't push the Mazda hard on a dynamically challenging road during my weeks with it.

What I did do, was cover a piece of highway along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan – roughly 20 miles of it – during the single worst hour of night blizzard I've ever driven in.

2014 Mazda6

The wind was strong enough to push a child or an old man to the ground and the Six had amassed an easy six inches of snow over its sleek body.

Anyone who knows anything about Lake Effect Snow can take one look at this route map and know I set myself up for some trouble. It was the last week in January, and I was in Saugatuck, MI for a wedding. (No, a wedding on the Michigan coast in January is not typical, but the couple in question is as intrepid as the weather. Congrats again, Jake and Bernadette). My wife and I shot westward across the state with no more issue than some blowing snow in the early evening, to meet the wedding party for a late dinner, before heading 20 miles north to West Olive, MI to stay with my folks. By the time we left dinner, close to midnight, it was pitch black, the wind was strong enough to push a child or an old man to the ground and the Six had amassed an easy six inches of snow over its sleek body.

The roads in downtown Saugatuck were choked. A smart man (or my wife, Molly), would have skipped the 'short' drive north and checked into the B&B two blocks down one night early. A stubborn man would insist things like "it won't be so bad off the lakeshore, on the highway," and "don't worry, I grew up driving in this stuff."

2014 Mazda6

I used every scintilla of grip available from those lauded tires.

I used every scintilla of grip available from those lauded tires just to get to US 31 North, to find, rather quickly, that things were not at all better off the lakeshore and on the highway. Nothing was plowed. The strong winds whipped drifts across the median, with snow standing perhaps 18-inches deep in patches on the highway itself. There were a few weaving tracks in the snow to point the Mazda towards, but as many of them followed unlucky cars and trucks off the edges of the pavement as followed the true path of the highway. I couldn't see anything, or feel what the front of the car was doing; both to such a degree that I came with in a hair's breadth, multiple times, of getting sucked into the abyss myself.

Eventually, thanks to a poised winter vehicle and, I'm sure, no small amount of luck, we rolled into my Dad's driveway. The wheels and wheel wells were absolutely packed with snow (it took a run through the only open carwash I could find to fully free them), but car and passengers were otherwise completely intact.

Safe from the blizzard driving, I was slightly disappointed with my observed fuel economy over the 800-plus miles I logged with the car. I average a pretty poor 25.5 miles per gallon, though the conditions I drove in make that number understandable. The long-trip detailed above was made with more halting pace (thanks to the weather) than you'd normally see on a highway cruise, and the rest of my driving happened in the fuel-economy-unfriendly confines of my suburban crawl. Still, the winter rubber may have had a small effect here, as well.

I'm going to be smart enough to not drive through a hellish winter storm next time, I promise. But if I do get caught out I could do far worse than having Mazda's sure-front-footed Six under me at the time.

If you haven't already, catch up with the rest of our long-term 2014 Mazda6 updates, here.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 33 Comments
      Teleny411
      • 1 Year Ago
      Such a winner in that red!
      the_gamper
      • 1 Year Ago
      I own a 2014 Mazda6 Touring with 6mt. I kept the all seasons on it for the winter, driving in Southeast Michigan. I found the car's ability in the snow to be about average. My fuel economy in the 3 to 4 months I have had it is about 30 mpg. Seeing an improvement in mpg with better weather. I think we had 3 months with average temps of 20 degrees. I really do enjoy this car. I would have preferred to get the grand touring trim with all the goodies but it could not be had with an MT, so the touring is missing a few thing I would have gladly paid for. Still, it has everything I need, I got mine for just under $24k, so it is a pretty good deal if you ask me. This car is down about 100 ponies and 80 torques from each of my two previous cars, so I was a little sceptical if the 2.5 skyactive would eventually bore me to death. It is not particularly powerful, but it can be driven with fun in mind and the shift action makes it worthwhile. I would characterize the engine adequate++. I tend to drive hard and fast wherever I go, so I probably torpedo my mpg a bit, but the fuel economy has been a nice consolation prize for giving up power. Nits: Infotainment screen size is adequate at best. Poor placement of fuel door release (I have opened hood on a few occasions), touring trim needs additional options with MT (auto on headlights, moonroof, keyless entry with proximity sensor, LED and HID would be nice) though i have been pleased with the base sound system and the leatherette vs leather hasnt been the penalty I thought it might be. In all, 4 months later I still love looking at it. It has been fun to drive, flawless in operation, frugal at the pump and with the out the door price, I think it is pretty tough for the competition to match, especially at the touring trim level.
      Ken H.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not really sure whether a review of the car or tires...
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ken H.
        Hey Ken, Yeah, the tire performance dominated a lot of this update, for sure. Please check out the rest of our LT Mazda6 coverage for more of a complete picture about the car. http://www.autoblog.com/long-term-garage/2014-mazda-mazda6/ -Seyth
      Louis MacKenzie
      • 1 Year Ago
      Definitely need to bring back the Speed6. Kia, Hyundai, etc all have Turbo 4 cars selling well. Speed6 with AWD will eat well into Subaru and Audi territory.
      mikemaj82
      • 1 Year Ago
      I really like this car, but $32K for a 184 horsepower 4-cylinder non-german-luxury car is just ridiculous. Even the pricing on the Mazda3 is just stupid. What are they thinking?
        Bentot
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mikemaj82
        $32K?! WTH!! I paid $10,000 less...at $22,600+TTL for a 2014 Mazda6 Touring 6sp manual. My combined fuel economy on a recent fuel fill...35.80mpg (ran 248.9mi / filled 6.952gal). This car is a Japanese-made German car. Fantastic handling ..I myself, a prior German car owner.
          jtav2002
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Bentot
          Not sure what your point is on price. It's what the car stickers as the way it's equipped. Most people don't pay sticker + TTL. What you paid OTD isn't really relevant to what the MSRP on an obviously differently equipped car.
        Darth Nader
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mikemaj82
        I'm right there with you, but I hate to break it to you: cars have just gotten expensive, period. It felt like just 10 short years ago that a base Audi A4 started around $25k...
          mikemaj82
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Darth Nader
          Not really. I just built a fully loaded Mazda3 sGT for $30,460. Here are other fully loaded cars in the same class: Dodge Dart Limited - $24,725 Chevy Cruze (with a LOT of unnecessary cosmetic parts) - $26,832 Honda Civic (again with a LOT of unnecessary stuff) - $28,411 Subaru Impreza - $26,918
      what
      • 1 Year Ago
      Seems overpriced.
        Jmaister
        • 1 Year Ago
        @what
        but it is overpriced loaded, what's this board smoking.
      Bill
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mazda shoots themselves in the foot with their packaging. In Canada, you can only get Sirius on the grand touring (GT), and then only if you get the technology package. They are aghast that the car is selling so poorly, but when you package the car so incompetently and expensive (35K to get Sirius), you deserve your fate. Iwas looking forward to getting the car, but after reviewing the 2014 and 2015 cars, I said No. In the states, they made a change to the 2015, with Sirius available on Touring. Also weird is that in Canada you can get a manual in the GT, but not in the USA. They offer electronic gizmos like crosstraffic alert or collision avert on midline cars, but not satellite radio? LOL. So, Mazda, until you get your act together, enjoy your sales at 1/10 those of the CamCord.
        Winnie Jenkems
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bill
        I want heated leather seats and a manual transmission. You can not have those together in the Mazda 6. WHY MAZDA, WHY?
      Greg Cocchiaro
      • 1 Year Ago
      beautifully written
      psarquis
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'd rather have the Accord Sport any day of the week over this Mazda!
      Bruce Thornton
      • 6 Months Ago

      What happened?  This long-term test seemed to just die suddenly.  There hasn't been an update in 10 months.  I'm a fan of the 6 (and I also sell them), so I want to know how this turned out.

      Jmaister
      • 1 Year Ago
      too flowery in the paragraphs, so did the 6 do good or what?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jmaister
        Without flowers: The Mazda6 was great in icy conditions and in deep snow, with a good set of winter tires. Thanks for reading. Seyth
      dadslife83
      • 1 Year Ago
      You are lucky to still be married. Chalk this one up to experience (known in this day as "WTH was I thinking?").
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