I felt compelled to write about this car next even though I said I’d review the Subaru Legacy here. And there is good reasoning behind why I’m writing about the Mazda 6 first. It’s just that good.
And leading off with a statement like that, you know it has to be good since I’ve usually started off these reviews with a bit of back-story and/or a bit of that car’s history. Not this time. The only thing I will say now is that all previous Mazda 6s are hereby banished from existence and need to be immediately melted down to help make this newer version. Ok, maybe a little history. Personal this time. I test drove the 2006 Mazda6 when I went to purchase my current car. While very solid, I felt Honda offered more for the money at the time. Now, that cannot be said and it cannot be said about all good-value, family sedans. The 2014 Mazda6 has no equal in its category.
For the 2014 Model year, Mazda incorporated its new “Kodo” design into the 6 and the results are dramatic. A complete overhaul of the body gives us a beautiful flow from stem to stern. Undulating and sloping lines remind me of a Porsche 911. Please don’t misinterpret that as me saying this IS a 911. It is not. The design elements along with the graceful lines, remind me of German engineering as opposed to something out of Japan. It’s a complete 180 and for the better. The last Mazda 6 was ugly.
The engine is great and not great in the same moment. 38 mpg (estimated) highway is phenomenal for a non-hybrid car. 184 HP is plenty to get this thing going, but it’s missing a bit. It’s quick, but not quick enough. Only slightly above average. And I drove the Grand Touring package, the highest level Mazda offers. Which, in many cars, would warrant an upgraded engine. Not in the 6. Since this is the first model year it is available with the redesign, the 184 HP engine is the only one available in any trim level. If you’re really looking for the kick in the teeth, wait a year on this car, as Mazda will surely come out with other engine variants for V6 and “MazdaSPEED” models. All in all, really not that bad and it even felt faster than the Ford Fusion witch has it beat by 53 ponies. Auto gearbox felt smooth and was a joy to drive. Came equipped with paddle shifters and tiptronic stick with manual mode.
Literally every other aspect of this car, less one that I will explain below, is phenomenal. The first thing you notice on this car is how massive the wheels are. 19” on the Grand Touring seem a bit large for a family saloon. Not the case as the tires and wheels went over bumps with ease and made the ride very pleasant. With that in mind, I felt as though the Mazda might have lost some of it’s sporty edge and Mazda’s on the whole are known for their handling and excellent balance. Not the case again as the 6 took turns like a champ. It felt like a car half the size in turns, perfectly executing apexes and performing more like a BMW 5 series than a Honda Accord competitor. I felt one with the road. Like I was paved into the asphalt itself. It was a strange feeling from such a large car, but it worked and came together beautifully. It was FUN to drive, which is a difficult feat to achieve in this segment. Think about what other cars are the competitors: Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, and Hyundai Sonata. Would you consider any of those cars fun to drive? I certainly don’t and the only one that came close was the Sonata, but that still felt more luxury than sport. The 6 blends both of those into a delicious concoction that only Mazda could deliver.
The interior materials felt, again, like they should be on a 5 series BMW. The leather was soft, but firm and not too sticky with holes to give you a breathable seat and comfortable ride. The center console was perfectly proportioned with a LCD display Sat Nav screen and iDrive-esque knob in the middle. Easy to maneuver controls were located on the steering wheel as well and you could control anything you want with those, the knob, or the touch screen. All of it worked very nicely together. The lines didn’t crash into each other and it didn’t seem like it was trying too hard to be something it was not. Very nicely designed and aesthetically pleasing all around. One flaw was that Mazda doesn’t have the rights or the technology, according to the salesman, to sync iPhone contacts or files to the car as of now. It only syncs with other devices that run android or other smart phones. A definite negative notch as I run and iPhone 4S, but not a huge drawback. I was assured they would be apple compatible within 1-2 years. Technology was up to par and vastly superior to the WRX, but just a shade under the Sonata. Hyundai still has the best tech in the business, in my opinion. It’s worth mentioning that this car had the best sound system of any car tested to this point. A Bose speaker package figuratively blew me away and would melt any faces with some sweet rock guitar solos happily pumping out of them.
Comfort was at an all time high in the 6. I felt like I was at home in this car. Comfortable, sporty, and manly, it hit all the right points. This is a car for now and for the future. I could easily see myself driving this car 2, 5, and even 10 years down the road as I don’t believe the looks or the quality would fade in any way. This is also a car that can be taken on LONG trips. Your fanny will not tired of the seats which I can only imagine were designed by Lay-Z-Boy.
And the price point was even less than the Fusion, completely topped out with goodies. For what you get for your money, there is no equal in the category, especially when considering how this car drives. Cadillac used to have a slogan saying, “Test drive the rest, then drive the best.” Mazda has taken that mantra and made it come alive. If you are looking for a family sedan, I implore you, go ahead and test-drive everything else first like I did. Then go drive the Mazda6. You’ll end up buying one. And if you don’t, you’re a massive idiot. Shifting Lanes gives the new 2014 Mazda6 it’s highest score to date of 89 out of 100.