Entry Price: $21,950
Price as tested: $27,860
This week, we’re driving the new, more aerodynamic 2018 Mazda6, noted for excellent looks and outstanding amenities. Its new exterior design is most impressive, as are the many new interior enhancements.
Mazda6 also goes beyond the call of duty by delivering a 35 MPG highway EPA number, which is very good for a larger mid-size car that this Mazda6 just happens to be. Our tester arrived in second level Touring trim with a base price of $25,700. The entry level Sport model starts at just $21,945 with a six-speed manual transmission.
Additionally, when a consumer moves up to the Mazda6 Grand Touring ($29,200) you’ll enjoy a new for 2018 turbocharged 250-horse, 310 torque 2.5-liter four that is packing some nice punch and still delivering 31 MPG highway. Two new upper-class turbo models also join the Mazda6 fray for ’18, including the Grand Touring Reserve ($31,700) and Signature ($34,750), both loaded with more amenities and upgrades.
Standard across the five model line is Mazda6’s constantly improving Skyactiv Vehicle Dynamics G-Vectoring control, a feature that helps deliver a smoother, less tiring drive. This G-vectoring system automatically adjusts power delivery and cornering enhancement and although the effect is subtle, drivers who have a better feel of the road will sense it (especially when cornering).
Also new for 2018 in all five models is standard forward collision city emergency braking and forward collision all-speed warning. This means when traveling at slower city speeds, the Mazda6 will engage the brakes to help avoid a front collision. Once you get up to highway speeds, the driver will receive a warning.
Enhanced safety features continue as both Sport and Touring join upper-class models to include as standard fare smart brake support, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, radar cruise control, hill start assist and more. Add in the airbags, four wheel disc ABS, electronic brake assist, dynamic stability and traction controls and you end up with a vehicle that touts overall Five Star government crash ratings. (Well done Mazda).
Under the hood, entry level Mazda Sport and second-in-line Touring come with a 2.5-liter fuel injected four-cylinder engine that delivers 187 horses and 186 lb. ft. of torque. Both the aforementioned turbo and non-turbo engines rely on fine shifting Sport Mode six-speed automatic while gear shifters have but one choice for 2018, notably the entry Sport that still comes with a six-speed manual. Not surprisingly, fuel mileage drops just a bit with 24 city and 34 highway the EPA estimates with the manual.
I’m happy to report that even though Mazda introduces two new models for 2018, just about every comfort and safety convenience comes standard on the Touring model. Included are LED auto leveling headlamps, rain sensing wipers, dual zone climate control air, all the powers, leatherette trim three-level heated front seats, power driver seat, rear view safety camera, Bluetooth, USB, blind spot with cross-traffic alert, push button start, six-speaker HD stereo system, Mazda Connect eight-inch infotainment system, power moonroof, and much more.
As for overall high points, it seems Mazda6 has figured out how to deliver some of the best fuel mileage numbers in the midsize class. Always noted for delivering in this area, Touring’s current 26 city and 35 highway with the automatic is a significant improvement compared to the last generation “6” models from 2013. Back then, 21 city and 30 highway were the best numbers while today Mazda engineers add five more MPG both city and highway thanks to its Skyactiv system implementation and excellent automatic transmission gearing.
As for handling, Mazda6 Touring comes with 19-inch all-season tires on beautiful gun metallic alloys as opposed to 18-inchers on the entry Sport. On the road, the “6” sticks extremely well in the corners and delivers a stiffer yet acceptable ride when engaged in the transmission Sport Mode setting. Drivers enter this mode by simply pressing a button and allowing Skyactiv computers to take over and automatically adjust engine throttle response and transmission shift points.
Inside you’ll find a new for 2018 dashboard design with easy to read speedometer and gauges. There’s a console controlled 8-inch color display that you can control by a console mounted knob or the steering wheel buttons. Rear legroom is notable and quite good, and the entire cabin motif is well done.
Our tester featured an optional $475 rear parking sensor, which mounts discreetly within the bumper and notifies the driver of obstructions behind the vehicle using an alarm sound. Other options include a $75 cargo mat, $125 All-weather floor mats, and $595 for special Soul Red Crystal metallic paint, which brought the final tally to $27,860 with $890 delivery included.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 111.4-inches, 3,427-lb. curb weight, 14.7-cu. ft. of cargo space, 6.5-inch ground clearance and a 16.4-gallon fuel tank.
In summary, Mazda6 in any state of build is a frontrunner in the mid-size division. I’m told we’ll have a Mazda6 with the new turbo engine coming soon, so stay tuned on that review as we’ll dig deeper into Mazda’s performance abilities and racing heritage. But for now, when you visit your Mazda dealer, make sure you drive both the new turbo and non-turbo models so you can make a better comparison to fit your driving needs.
Either way, Mazda6 for 2018 is much improved and worth a test drive.
Likes: New models and engine, fuel mileage, looks, more safety.
Dislikes: Still some interior wind noise, engine noisy under full throttle.
NEXT WEEK: 2018 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD 400 horse twin-turbo hardtop coupe.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications.