2015 Mazda6 Grand Touring Review

A serious contender amid tough competition.

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April 25, 2014

2015 Mazda6 Grand Touring Review

As a general rule, with sedans there are three choices: you can have them luxurious, fast, or affordable, but you only get to pick two. The Mazda6 is one of the rare exceptions that manages to deliver a decent amount of each.

Sensible, Stylish, and Sporty
The mid-size sedan market is perhaps the most competitive in all the industry. It also produces some of the best value-for-your-dollar buys, considering the amount of luxury, utility, safety, and economy you can get out of a well-designed one.

Despite the fact that far too many people continue their inexplicable love affair with crossovers and SUVs, mid-size sedans remain the most popular choice among car buyers. And the 2015 Mazda6 is an excellent example of why this class of vehicle deserves to be what most people drive.

Mazda is determined to stay competitive, even when the competition includes the Honda Accord and the Ford Fusion. And it comes extremely close to matching the best cars in its class both in terms of styling and economy, which in itself is no mean feat. As a general rule, with sedans there are three choices: you can have them luxurious, fast, or affordable, but you only get to pick two. The Mazda6 is one of the rare exceptions that manages to deliver a decent amount of each.

Now, before we get carried away, keep in mind this is a $23,000 sedan -- so don't expect Lexus-level luxury, or Corvette-like speed - but even at that base MSRP the 6 comes with an array of features that many of its competitors charge for (e.g. rearview camera, touchscreen display, LED tail lights, dual exhaust).

On the road , the Mazda6 gets a bit above its station, delivering a sprightly yet sophisticated driving experience, as well as ample room for back seat passengers and plenty of trunk space.

We drove the Grand Touring edition, which is only available with Mazda's 6-speed automatic transmission. The automatic clearly works harder at maximizing mileage than it does at delivering the sportiest driving experience, but that's pretty much part for the course these days. The base Sport edition is available with a 6-speed manual, and its guaranteed to be the most fun 6 of all.

But even with the less-than-spectacular automatic transmission there's plenty of high-rev fun to be had with the 6. There's a button on the center console marked 'Sport' that gives a slight boost to the throttle response, but is mostly redundant. The 184 horsepower brought by the 2.5-liter four-banger is just enough bust through the edge of the envelope stamped 'boring' by virtue of its being a sedan.

The 6 was given a few exterior touch-ups for the 2015 model, but the biggest change has been the addition of the optional i-ELOOP regenerative breaking technology, which goes a long way to earning this car a beyond-impressive mpg rating of 40 highway and 28 city. Mazda remains committed to eschewing electric engine technology, but they're happy to squeeze the most extreme efficiency possible out of internal combustion, and there's a certain respectability to the company's commitment to fossil fuels, regardless of which side of the right/wrong divide it places them on.

Minor quibbles with the 6 include the infotainment/navigation system, which is as bad as they get - and they get really, really bad - and the overall styling which is a little on the dull side even among cars not known for their distinctive appearances.

But if neither of these are deal-breakers (and in the grand scheme of things, and considering the car's price and excellent fuel economy, they really shouldn't be), there is really no reason to not opt for the 6 over just about every one of its competitors.

The Mazda6 isn't likely to be the coolest car on the block, but it has a pretty decent chance of being the best.

2015 Mazda MAZDA6 Specs & Prices Engine: 2.5-liter 4 cylinder

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive

Power Output: 184 hp / 185 lb-ft

Fuel Economy (mpg): 28 city / 40 highway

Base Price: $29,895

As Tested: $33,045

Available Features: 19-inch alloy wheels, leather-trimmed sport seats, 5.8-inch touchscreen display, navigation, rear-view camera

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