The 2020 Mazda6 should be on anybody’s sedan shortlist. It’s modern and attractive both inside and out. The ride and handling balance is unmatched by anything short of the 2020 Honda Accord, and it’s priced well alongside all of its tough competition. An Accord is still the only one in this segment to offer a manual transmission for enthusiasts who care to shift themselves, but the Mazda6 with the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is still plenty of fun with its smart-shifting six-speed auto.
Mazda has also succeeded in putting together a luxurious interior — highlighted by the Signature trim — that outdoes the more pedestrian interiors found in other pricey mid-size sedans. Tons of work was put into the Mazda6 to make it more refined and premium, and it’s worked.
Downsides are few in number, but if the Mazda6 suffers anywhere, it’s in the infotainment and utility departments. The software Mazda uses is old and antiquated compared to its new system in the Mazda3 and CX-30, as well as those in the Accord, Hyundai Sonata and others. The trunk is also smaller than most in this segment. Those may be deal breakers for some, but people who value an engaging driving experience will appreciate it for its sharp steering and agile chassis, and those who could care less will still love it for the refinement and comfort.
What’s new for 2020?
There isn’t much new for the 2020 Mazda6 this year. Mazda says it’s switched to the key fob design used on the Mazda3 and CX-30, and there’s also a new “Signature” badge for the top trim. Besides that, the car carries over unchanged from 2019.
- 2020 Mazda6 Signature
- Image Credit: Zac Palmer
What’s the interior and in-car technology like?
The 2020 Mazda6’s interior is simple and beautiful. Mazda has upped its interior quality game beyond the competition, and it’s accomplished this without pricing the sedan out of the ballpark. Comfortable chairs make long rides a breeze as does the hushed cabin noise. From lower trims on up, the cabin looks and feels of a high quality. Even the basic entry-level Sport trim has an excellent interior that goes above the more basic furnishings of competitors, while on the other end of the spectrum, the Signature boasts rich suede-like cloth and beautiful Sen wood to create an environment encroaching on the luxury segment.
However, Mazda’s infotainment system is way behind compared to others in the segment. Drivers can control the 8-inch screen via touch when stopped, but really, that just means you'll mostly be using the rotary control knob. That's not a problem in theory (Mazda's excellent new system in the 3 is exclusively rotary-controlled and works very well), but the screen's menus are confused, the graphics are dated, and it's generally slower to respond than most rival systems. You can save yourself the trouble of dealing with Mazda’s native system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (standard on all but the Sport), but its functionality is compromised by the rotary control as well.
Mazda turns the tech story around with its instrument cluster. The digital screen integration with physical gauges is classy and modern-looking. It’s an elegant way to keep the traditional gauge set while adding some of the high-res graphics and capability that modern screen technology affords us.
How big is it?
The 2020 Mazda6 is an average-sized sedan for its class, verging on small. It falls behind much of the competition on interior space, and the trunk has less room in it, too. Honda has everybody beat with the mammoth Accord, and the Mazda is 1.7 inches behind it in rear seat legroom. Headroom is on the lower side of the class, but unless you’re especially tall, the ceiling won’t be too prohibitive. By most dimensions, it’s an inch or two smaller than many others, so if maximum space is your priority, you may be better off looking elsewhere.
Mazda has kept its sedan’s footprint similar to the competition, but its 14.7-cubic-foot trunk is as small as it gets for the segment. Besides falling short on paper, we also managed to fit less luggage into it than the Accord (by a mile), Camry, Subaru Legacy and Volkswagen Passat. There is also less small item storage in the cabin, especially in the center console with its tiny under armrest bin.
- Image Credit: Mazda
What’s the performance and fuel economy?
There are two powertrain options for the Mazda6. The base engine is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. This is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and sent to the front wheels – all-wheel drive is not an option on any Mazda6. EPA-estimated fuel economy for this engine is 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. This engine is found on the Sport and Touring trims.
Upgrade to the Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve or Signature, and Mazda swaps in its 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This boosted engine makes 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque when run on premium fuel. You can use regular, but the horsepower drops to 227 horses on the cheap stuff (torque remains the same at 310 pound-feet). Fuel economy does suffer with the extra power. You drop down to 23 mpg city 31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined ratings.
What’s it like to drive?
The 2020 Mazda6 is the most engaging midsize sedan out there. Full stop. The Honda Accord with the 2.0-liter turbo and six-speed manual is one exception to that rule, but that’s only because Mazda doesn’t offer a manual transmission anymore. Handling is superb, as the big sedan feels lighter on its feet than the competition, whipping through backroads with poise and joy. The steering talks to you, and the suspension keeps the car planted on the road through imperfections and undulations with ease. Mazdas have long prioritized driving enjoyment, and the Mazda6 is no exception to this rule.
On top of the excellent handling characteristics, it’s also a treat to just poke around town in. Mazda went to great lengths to refine the cabin experience, and it’s succeeded. Engine noise, tire noise and wind noise are all down compared to older Mazdas that you may remember being noisy and unpleasant.
Both engine options are great choices. Get the base non-turbo 2.5-liter if you value fuel economy or the lower base price associated with its corresponding trim level, or get the turbo if you want a more exciting commute. It would certainly be our choice. The turbo may be growlier and less refined than the Accord's upgrade turbo engine, and not as smooth as either the Honda or Camry V6. Yet, it feels stronger than others off the line and benefits from superior responses to driver inputs. The throttle is superb, reacting to delicate inputs without feeling overcaffeinated. Mazda's six-speed downshifts readily and smartly. Brake going into a corner and the transmission will drop a cog for you, not unlike the sport modes of a Mercedes-AMG or Porsche. The paddles are there, but we hardly felt the urge to pull them
What more can I read about the Mazda6?
2018 Mazda6 2.5T First Drive Review | Smooth operator
Our first spin in the turbocharged version of the Mazda6 sedan is a good one.
Midsize Sedan Comparison | Honda Accord vs. Toyota Camry vs. Mazda6
We pit some of the best mid-size sedans in the segment against each other to see which is best.
What features are available and what’s the price?
The 2020 Mazda6 Sport (base trim) starts at $25,045, including the $945 destination charge. It’s a fairly well-equipped model and includes LED headlights and taillights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a number of driver assistance systems (see Safety section), dual-zone auto climate control, cloth seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and Mazda's previous-generation infotainment system with 8-inch infotainment screen and center console rotary controller.
The Touring is a great $2,600 step up above the Sport for anyone wanting a few more features. Namely, you get Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, heated leatherette seats (power driver’s seat), a sunroof and 19-inch wheels. The best upgrade for the enthusiast is to the Grand Touring, though, since that trim comes standard with the turbo engine. It also adds the premium Bose audio system and auto-dimming mirrors.
Prices for the other trims can be found below, and you can find a complete breakdown of the added features here on Autoblog.
- Touring: $26,700
- Grand Touring: $30,745
- Grand Touring Reserve: $33,245
- Signature: $36,345
What are the Mazda6’s safety equipment and crash ratings?
Every 2020 Mazda6 comes with an array of driver assistance systems on top of the usual airbags and stability aids. These systems include collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist. The lane-keeping system isn’t very proactive or good at keeping you in the center of the lane, but like all of Mazda's assistance tech, it also doesn’t throw a bunch of unneeded alerts at the driver either. It operates silently and gently vibrates the wheel while nudging you back toward the center.
The Mazda6 received a Top Safety Pick+ award from the Institute for Highway Safety. That is the highest honor possible from the IIHS. It received the best possible ratings for its crash scores, and nearly perfect headlight and crash prevention scores. It also received the highest possible marks for its LATCH ease of use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Mazda6 a high five-star overall crash test score.