We recently had a stretch of cold weather in Atlanta, you may have heard. We're happy to say, the Mazda6 performed admirably in the 3 inches of snow.

Bun Warmers

Turns out those subfreezing temps provided the perfect chance to put our 2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring's seat warmers to the test. A few things we like: The bun warmers are 3-stage, so you can get just the right amount of heat. I almost always use seat heaters on the first setting; anything higher is uncomfortable. However, other editors always go right for the highest setting, no matter what.

Also, when I shut off the car and return later (such as parking at work or in the garage overnight), the Mazda6 keeps my seat heater on the setting it was on when I turned the car off. It doesn't deactivate by default each time you turn the car off. I like that.

Adaptive Cruise Control

I must have overlooked this on the window sticker, but our car includes adaptive cruise control. That means it works like normal cruise control (holds the vehicle speed without your touching the accelerator) but can also "see" cars ahead.

Say you have the adaptive cruise control set to 71 miles per hour. Then, you come up on a slower moving car. The Mazda will match that car's speed and follow at a safe distance (you can widen or narrow the gap between you and the car ahead) until you change lanes or the car ahead moves over. In either case, the Mazda6 will then take you back up to your previously set 71 mph with no action from you.

Sometimes the adaptive cruise feature is less than desirable in other cars. Using it in moderate or even light traffic can result in crude or jerky transitions when the car "sees" another car -- it's like being in the car with an inexperienced driver who overreacts to each situation.

Also, once that car ahead of you has moved on, less sophisticated systems kick the transmission down, causing the engine to rev high to get back up to speed. Thankfully, the Mazda doesn't do this; the transitions and speed-matching feature work seamlessly, leaving us with the impression that the 6 is more refined than its price suggests.

Considerable Value

Adaptive cruise control is a great feature for a $33,000 car. We're amazed at this car's combination of style, tech and value.

The 2014 Mazda6 is comparable to the Honda Accord. In fact, we had an Accord for a year so we could compare the two.

So far, it seems clear the Honda Accord is lacking in some areas compared to the Mazda. The Mazda6's interior is nicer and filled with better materials. The Accord EX-L with navigation is about the same price as our Mazda6 Grand Touring, but the Accord does not have adaptive cruise control.

On the other hand, the Accord may have better resale value and comes in a wider variety of styles, including coupe, sedan, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, 4-cylidner, V6, manual or automatic transmission.

The bottom line is that the Mazda6 is a compelling car. If you're shopping for a Honda Accord or Nissan Altima, or even a Ford Fusion, drive the Mazda6. You may like the Accord better -- it's a very good car, too. But at least drive the Mazda. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

author photo

Brian Moody heads up the AutoTrader.com editorial team. An automotive writer and presenter for more than 12 years, he's contributed to such media outlets as CNBC, Edmunds.com, Fox Business, Speed TV and The Today Show.

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