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2015 Mazda6: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2014

After undergoing a complete makeover last year, the 2015 Mazda6 has emerged as a clear winner. Although priced on par with other popular family sedans, Mazda has infused its 5-passenger sedan with a sleek and sophisticated body, outstanding driving dynamics and an interior that is technologically savvy without being overly complicated. Best of all, the Mazda6 achieves impressive fuel economy and power from its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder SkyActiv engine.

Of course, there are a few shortcomings worth mentioning. The 2.5-liter is the only engine offered, with no V6 in the lineup and promises of a diesel option once again pushed back indefinitely. Mazda also doesn't offer a hybrid model, meaning that despite its impressive fuel economy the Mazda6 can't compete with the mileage figures posted by the Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry hybrids. On the plus side, the Mazda6 still offers a manual transmission, an option we know few buyers will take but that enthusiasts will love.

What's New for 2015?

The Touring trim gains a new option package that adds a power moonroof, Bose audio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Base models receive 1-touch up/down power windows.

What We Like

Sporty handling; strong fuel economy; long list of tech features; ample rear-seat room

What We Don't

Choppy ride quality with 19-inch wheels; difficult navigation system; small trunk; heated seats only available on the most expensive trim

How Much?

$22,020-$34,500

Fuel Economy

The 2015 Mazda6 offers only one powertrain: a 184-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. The company promised a diesel model late in the 2014 production run but to date still hasn't confirmed if the 2015 car will ever see it. To us, that's not a problem, as the 2.5-liter unit is powerful enough to meet the needs of most drivers. Efficiency-minded shoppers also won't be clamoring for a V6. That's because the 4-cylinder returns impressive fuel economy thanks to SkyActiv technology, which saves weight and boosts efficiency. Once again, the automatic is the best bet, returning 26 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway for a combined 30 mpg. When teamed with the i-ELOOP option, fuel economy jumps to 28 mpg city/40 mpg hwy for a combined 32 mpg. Manual models return 25 mpg city/37 mpg hwy for 29 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Mazda6 is offered in three trim levels: i Sport, i Touring and i Grand Touring. The Sport and Touring offer a choice between a manual or automatic transmission, while the Grand Touring comes equipped only with an automatic.

The Mazda6 i Sport ($20,020) comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, cruise control, remote keyless entry, push-button start, an AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers and a USB audio input, 17-in alloy wheels, dual power mirrors, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 6-way manual driver's seat with manual lumbar support, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a leather-wrapped shift knob, steering wheel and parking brake handle. Add an extra $1,705 to get the automatic transmission and you'll also gain a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 5.8-in color touchscreen display, Pandora Internet Radio, audio menu voice command and an HD Radio.

There are no option packages for the Sport, although some dealer-installed options include rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and front fog lights.

The Mazda6 i Touring ($24,675) has all the features found on the automatic-equipped Sport trim plus dual-zone automatic air conditioning, a blind spot monitor and a power driver's seat. The Mazda6 Touring also boasts leatherette seats, Advanced Key keyless entry and start, handsome 19-in alloys and rear cross-traffic alert safety tech.

Touring models equipped with the automatic transmission have two options-package choices. The Moonroof/Bose/Satellite Radio package ($1,350) is self-explanatory, while the Touring Technology package ($1,550) adds smart city brake support, auto on/off headlamps, heated side mirrors, a TomTom navigation radio and rain-sensing wipers (must be ordered in conjunction with the Moonroof/Bose/Satellite package).

The Mazda6 i Grand Touring ($30,725) includes all the equipment found in the two optional Touring trim packages plus an automatic transmission, leather seats, heated front seats, bi-xenon headlights with auto leveling, fog lights, an 8-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support, a 4-way power passenger seat, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and adaptive front headlights.

The Grand Touring Technology Package ($2,080) adds radar cruise control, forward-obstruction warning and lane-departure warning, along with automatic high-beam control and i-ELOOP active grille shutters.

Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2015 Mazda6 a 5-star overall safety score, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) bestows its highest score of Good in all crash tests, with the exception of the small overlap front test, which earned the Mazda6 an Acceptable rating. IIHS also lists the Mazda6 as a Top Safety Pick.

The Mazda6 comes standard with stability control, traction control and eight airbags. All models except the manual-equipped Sport include a rearview camera and Bluetooth. The Mazda6's Bluetooth technology displays text messages on the sedan's center screen and even reads them aloud so drivers won't be distracted by their cell phones.

Behind the Wheel

There's no doubt that the Mazda6 is aimed at shoppers eager to occasionally test their car's limits on a curvy road, but that's not to say that traditional midsize sedan buyers won't like the Mazda6.

The 2.5-liter engine is powerful enough for most driving situations, especially when paired with the brand's SkyActiv-Drive automatic, which boasts crisp shifts that Mazda says are quicker than dual-clutch transmissions in competitors. Of course, in true Mazda fashion, the 6-speed stick is also a joy thanks to short throws and a predictable clutch. In Touring and Grand Touring trims, the larger wheel-and-tire combo can deliver a rather stiff ride. Those who enjoy the driving experience won't mind sacrificing ride quality, but for the comfort-minded, there's no shame in choosing a more pliant rival.

As for the Mazda6's technology features, they definitely enhance the driving experience. The radar cruise control, for instance, works with a simple steering-wheel stalk. In our tests, it was always easy to program and kept a predictable following distance. The same is true for Mazda's blind spot monitor, which warns drivers if a vehicle is in a blind spot. A chime sounds if drivers try to signal toward that vehicle.

An exception to the impressive tech is the TomTom-based navigation system, which we found clunky and difficult to use. In addition to several counterintuitive menus, its biggest flaw was a lag between touch and feedback.

Other Cars to Consider

Ford Fusion -- The Ford Fusion possesses an impressive interior, a wide array of powertrains, excellent gas mileage and competitive pricing. There's also a hybrid and all-wheel-drive model.

Honda Accord -- Honda's latest Accord also offers new styling, strong fuel economy and driver-focused dynamics that will rival the Mazda6, although the styling isn't as bold.

Toyota Camry -- The Camry appeals to shoppers who need a practical, midsize sedan but don't want the sporty feel or choppy ride offered by the Mazda6.

AutoTrader's Advice

While we're impressed by the wide array of electronics on the upscale Grand Touring model, a mid-level Mazda6 Touring is fine with us. It includes everything you need without going overboard. And unless you just have to have a stick, we suggest the faster, more efficient 6-speed automatic. It'll be easier to resell, too.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Mazda6: New Car Review - Autotrader