We try to drive our long-term test cars as you would, and for most people, that means the occasional road trip. So we recently handed off our 2014 Mazda6 long-term test car to a staffer who was planning a long trip with lots of highway driving. Now that he's back, here are some of his thoughts.
Excellent Cruise Control
When you're on a long road trip, there's nothing you'll find more appealing than cruise control. Not only does our Mazda6 tester have it, but it goes one step further: It has adaptive cruise control, which is highly unusual for the segment and allows drivers to set a following distance from the car in front and let the Mazda do the rest.
Before we get to the adaptive part, let's just cover the cruise control, as the Mazda6 allows you to use regular cruise control separately from the adaptive system. Our staffer says it works great, noting that it's the best cruise-control functionality he has ever used. Not only is it easy to program, but the system lets you set the exact speed you want through a digital readout on the dash. That means there's no more guesswork when it comes to reaching the speed you want and setting the cruise control.
As for the adaptive cruise, it too works flawlessly. It's often hard to design systems like these because they can be difficult for drivers to program. After all, you have to set a speed and following distance on one small screen. But the Mazda makes it easy, and the system works great, always keeping the intended distance from the car in front. Our staffer reported that the cruise control seriously helped to minimize exhaustion on the long drive.
A Few Flaws
When you take a car on a road trip, you become very familiar with it and you start to notice flaws that you might not otherwise find. Case in point: Our road-tripping staffer says the horn alert when you lock the doors is too loud. He also says that the turn-signal stalk doesn't feel especially substantial -- a minor complaint, maybe, but one you notice when you spend an entire day in the car.
A more serious complaint relates to the center console in our 2014 Mazda6. Our staffer reports that the center armrest feels flimsy -- a charge we've heard before. He also says the same thing about the parking brake. And should you pull the armrest forward, say, to rest your muscles on a long drive, one of the front cup holders is blocked.
In his 1,230-mile trip, our staffer returned nearly 34 miles per gallon -- a strong figure, though not quite in keeping with the Environmental Protection Agency's 38 mpg highway rating. Still, between the good fuel economy, the excellent cruise control and other comments about our Mazda6 that we've noted before, such as the compliments for its comfortable seats and stylish interior, this is a good road-trip car. In fact, we'd happily take it on another one, though we might cover our ears before we press the lock button.