• Mazda6 adds optional new i-ELOOP feature
  • Models equipped with i-ELOOP return 40 mpg
  • i-ELOOP only offered on upscale Grand Touring model

The 2014 Mazda6 will return up to 40 miles per gallon. That makes it one of the most efficient midsize sedans -- and it doesn't even have a hybrid engine.

Instead, this latest Mazda sedan uses a system that Mazda calls i-ELOOP. The unusual name stands loosely for Intelligent Energy Loop, which is how Mazda describes its regenerative braking system.

Although it's a complex technology, regenerative braking isn't hard to understand. When you're slowing down, your brakes generate heat and, therefore, energy. A regenerative braking system such as i-ELOOP stores the energy so it can power the car's accessories -- for instance, the air conditioning or the stereo. That frees the engine to take care of actually moving the car around.

The result is a whopping 28 mpg city/40 mpg hwy. That number, which works out to an EPA-rated combined average of 32 mpg, makes the 2014 Mazda6 the most fuel-efficient nonhybrid midsize sedan. It also boasts a 2-mpg increase over versions of the sedan that don't offer i-ELOOP technology.

"Mazda is again changing the game of automotive engineering," said Jim O'Sullivan, Mazda North America's president and chief executive. "But fuel economy isn't the sole focus of our design and engineering teams, as being a leader in dynamics, design and safety create a win-win for the company and consumers."

i-ELOOP technology isn't cheap. The new system is offered only as part of the GT Technology Package, which is available on the upscale Grand Touring model only. That means a car with the technology starts at more than $32,000 with shipping.

What it means to you: The 2014 Mazda6 boasts impressive gas mileage with its i-ELOOP technology.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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