2012 Mazda6 New Car Test Drive
The Mazda6 is a midsize sedan that looks like a coupe. On the road, it acts like a coupe with sporty driving dynamics and sparkling acceleration performance. The Mazda6 delivers good fuel economy and it's attractively priced. Inside is a nice cabin loaded with convenience features. There's plenty of room for four adults, it can seat five, and it has a big trunk.
The 2012 Mazda6 carries over unchanged. Mazda6 was last redesigned for the 2009 model year, and 2011 brought styling revisions and interior upgrades.
Two engines are available. Mazda 6i models come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Mazda 6s versions get a 3.7-liter V6. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder has 170 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque and is EPA-rated at 21/30 mpg City/Highway with the 6-speed manual transmission, 22/31 mpg with the 5-speed automatic. We found the four-cylinder engine a good choice. It cruises effortlessly on the open highway and works well around town with either transmission. The 6-speed manual is the sporty choice with closely spaced gear ratios.
The 3.7-liter V6 makes 272 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, delivers extraordinary performance, and is EPA-rated at 18/27 mpg. The V6 engine delivers loads of mid-range power and strong acceleration performance. We found it a delight to drive, with a 6-speed automatic mated to the most powerful V6 in the class.
Mazda6 competes against an impressive group of midsize sedans. Among them: Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, Volkswagen Jetta, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima. Those who fully enjoy and appreciate the driving experience may find the Mazda6 the most compelling. Competitive pricing may seal the deal.
The Mazda6 looks smaller and trimmer than other midsize sedans. In fact, it's just an inch shorter than the 2012 Accord and it's actually three inches longer than the 2012 Camry.
The Mazda6 offers just as much legroom as either the Honda or the Toyota, though the swoopy roof eats up an inch of headroom. And the Mazda6 has just as much legroom in the back seats as the Honda Accord. We found the seating comfortable, front and rear. Leather upholstery is available in addition to the nice cloth that comes standard. And the Mazda6 offers slightly more luggage room than what's available in either the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. We liked the navigation system and the stereo and we found everything easy to use. Visibility is very good.
Sporty handling is this car's best feature. Each Mazda6 model has its own calibrations for the same suspension system, and they tend to feel more buttoned down as price and engine size increase. A lot of the differences relate to tires. Four-cylinder models with 17-inch wheels offer livelier handling due to lighter weight. The V6 models on 18-inch wheels offer lots of grip but ride quality is a bit too firm for rough pavement.
Overall, the Mazda6 is an excellent choice for driving enthusiasts who want a practical midsize sedan.
Mazda 6i Sport ($20,240) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, tilt/telescope steering wheel, 60/40 folding rear seat, six-speaker sound system, keyless remote entry, cruise control, and steering wheel mounted controls. The 6-speed manual gearbox that comes standard became a close-ratio unit in 2011. A 5-speed automatic ($21,240) is also available.
Mazda 6i Touring ($22,885) comes only with the automatic transmission, and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, eight-way power driver's seat, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, center console sliding armrest, trip computer, in-dash 6CD changer, premium trim, and Bluetooth. The Mazda 6i Touring Plus ($24,490) adds a power moonroof, ground illumination, electroluminescent gauges, anti-theft system, and Blind Spot Monitoring System.
Mazda 6i Grand Touring ($27,070) upgrades with leather seats (heated in front), dual-zone climate control, welcome lighting, Bose sound system, and multi-information display with rearview camera. Options for Grand Touring include a navigation system ($2,000), and the Technology Package ($1,785), which adds automatic headlamps, advanced keyless entry, push-button start, auto-dimming and heated exterior mirrors, auto-dimming interior mirror, Homelink universal garage-door opener, Sirius Satellite Radio, xenon headlamps, LED rear combination lights, driver's-seat memory, power passenger seat, and rain-sensing wipers.
Mazda 6s has the 3.7-liter V6 engine, a 6-speed automatic transmission, and chrome dual-exhaust outlets. It's available with the Touring Plus ($27,330) or Grand Touring ($29,570) trim levels, which are equipped similarly to the i models, although the s Grand Touring gets 18-inch alloy wheels.
Safety features include front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control, traction control and ABS. The Blind Spot Monitoring System is standard on Touring Plus and Grand Touring models.