2014 Mazda 6 Review

Stunning looks and sporty performance make a good combo.

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May 26, 2013

2014 Mazda 6 Review

The car feels fairly stable when pushed, inspiring confidence in the driver.

Introduction
When redesigning its Mazda 6 mid-size sedan, Mazda found itself in a precarious position. The first 6 had been a hit with both the press and the public, but the second-generation car fell a tad flat. It wasn't due to looks -- the outgoing 6 was attractive enough, if a tad bland -- or performance (the car remained one of the sportiest in the class), but rather the 6 never quite hit the engaging mix of performance and practicality that the first-generation car had.

Enter the next 6. With styling based on Mazda's Takeri concept, the new 6 certainly turns heads. But will it turn enough heads -- and capture enough hearts -- to find a home in plenty of driveways while getting back to the blend of sport and utility that made the first-generation 6 such a pleasing car to drive?

2014 Mazda MAZDA6 Performance Mazda had its work cut out for it -- the redesigned-for-2013 Ford Fusion and Honda Accord both offer terrific driving dynamics, and due to Mazda's stated 'zoom-zoom' mission, the 6 would be considered a letdown if it didn't compete with those cars in spirited driving. The good news for Mazda: it definitely competes. The bad news: it's still not quite there with Fusion, although it's not far off from Accord.

The biggest letdown is the steering -- steering feel is precise and mostly well-weighted, but it's not as flickable as one might expect from the company that builds the Miata, nor as substantial as the unit in the Ford. One doesn't expect 'flickability' (making up words is fun) in a mid-sizer, since customer priorities are different than those of Miata buyers, but while the steering feel is very good (especially by class standards), it's just a bit off what we'd expect. It's accurate, but not as quick and sharp to react as we'd like.

There's also a little more body roll than we'd like, and that's about it for the negative. The good is that the car feels fairly stable when pushed, inspiring confidence in the driver. Its responses and reflexes are quite good, despite the relatively slow steering, and getting through corners smoothly is not a scary endeavor. Mazda blended in plenty of sportiness, even if it doesn't feel quite as stable when pushed as the Fusion does or possess reflexes as sharp as the Accord. The 6 is in the top three of the mid-size class when it comes to driving dynamics, so we'd say Mazda mostly got it right.

Ride-wise, the 6 is composed on the road, sprightly sprung but never punishing. In sedate cruise mode, it's a perfect cruising companion.

We do wish the 2.5-liter four-cylinder would have more power -- it's acceptable in urban situations, but when powering out of corners, we'd like a little more oomph.
2014 Mazda MAZDA6 Exterior Simply put, the 6 is a stunner. Sleek lines and sexy curves define the sedan. Good-looking mid-size sedans aren't new anymore, thanks to the existence of the Fusion and Hyundai Sonata (among others), but the 6 sheds its previously slightly bland styling to become a head-turner of the highest order.
2014 Mazda MAZDA6 Interior The good looks carry over to the interior. We like the clean design of the dash and center stack -- especially the digital display for the air conditioning controls in the center stack. Everything is laid out neatly -- the cabin is simple and attractive, featuring a clean and modern design.

The infotainment-system control knob located behind the shifter does take some getting used to, but it works well once the driver is familiar with it. We appreciated the availability of Pandora streaming radio, but we wish we didn't have to re-familiarize it with our iPhone each time the car is restarted. That's really distracting.
2014 Mazda MAZDA6 Final Thoughts Mazda is working hard to balance sport with practical with the 6, and it generally succeeds. Gorgeous styling, slick handling, and a balanced ride add up to a strong package. A classy cabin doesn't hurt, either.

The Accord may still claim king of the hill status, Toyota's Camry isn't going anywhere, and the Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion are also top contenders in the mid-size class. The 6 has an uphill battle. But it's in the top group of the class, with a mix of values that appeals both to enthusiasts and commuters alike. There's a lot to love here, and Mazda should be proud of this design.
2014 Mazda MAZDA6 Specs, Features, and Prices Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Drive Wheels: All-wheel-drive

Fuel Economy: 26 mpg city/38 mpg highway

Base Price: $29,495

As-tested Price: $31,490 (includes $795 delivery charge)

Available Features: Bluetooth, USB port, satellite radio, moonroof, navigation, blind-spot monitoring system, heated front seats, radar cruise control, 19-inch wheels, rearview camera, rear cross-traffic alert.

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