If you haven’t taken a look at Mazda recently, the all-new redesigned 2014 Mazda 6 will give you a good reason if your looking for a mid-size sedan. It competes in the highly competitive segment with the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Kia Optima, Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata. This week were testing a Soul Red range-topping Mazda 6 Grand Touring model. It comes with the most standard features and also the biggest price ($29,495).
The biggest news for the all-new 2014 Mazda 6 is the exterior design changes that were immediately noticed when the car was delivered. It also gets a retooled powertrain and more standard features. It’s not a boring family sedan and in this writers opinion is one of the sportiest mid-size four-door sedans on the planet. The Kia Optima would be second on my list for being stylish, modern and cool.
Everything is new on the Mazda 6 and can be seen when first getting into the cabin. The interior is geared towards the driver with new ergonomic center stack that features easy to reach knobs and buttons. The steering wheel is smaller than the previous generation and gets paddle shifters for more spirited driving.
The black leather sport seats are comfortable and supportive and featured a red contrast trim stitching. Heated front seats came standard on this tester and would be a welcome addition later on this winter. Everything on the inside says this new sedan is sporty and fun and not boring like other mid-size entries. But does it just look good on the inside and outside or is it more fun to drive?
Living in Colorado gives this test driver a good opportunity to see what these cars will do at altitude. Manufactures bring their cars here from all over the world to see how they perform at 10,000 feet in elevation. Looking at the fact sheet says the Mazda 6 has undergone a transformation under the hood too. Gone is the old V6 powerplant, and in is the new 2.5-liter inline-4 that generates 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Mazda did this to bump up fuel-economy. They also reduced the overall weight of the Mazda 6 which helped in economy and performance.
How does the new 2.5-liter perform?
184 horses doesn’t sound all that impressive, but when it’s combined with a reduction in weight, it performs better than expected. Like all Mazdas, the new Mazda 6 is tuned first and foremost for fun and a sporty driving experience. The engine in the front-drive Grand Touring is paired with an all-new six-speed sport automatic transmission that provides quick seamless shifts. But those looking for a cushy ride should look elsewhere. Mazda 6 chassis is tuned for sport and is more solid and this results in a firmer ride and provides minimal body roll in the corners. The MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link setup in the rear make for a sporty ride that’s firm and compliant.
The new all-electric power steering on the new Mazda 6 is a big improvement over the old hydraulic setup. The new electric system is used for its efficiency and is surprisingly responsive, keeping the driver connected to the road without feeling heavy. For those living at sea level, the new 2.5-liter engine should provide adequate power. But at altitude, the lack of power can be felt in demanding driving situations and when passing on steep hills. But when pushed hard, it has enough power to propel you where you need to go.
The six-speed automatic transmission controlled manually by the steering wheel mounted shift paddles added an extra level of driving excitement. It gives the driver the option to manually find just the right gear when entering and exiting the corners. In and around my home to town of Evergreen, there were lots of opportunities to test the paddle shifters. Overall, the Mazda 6 is sporty and agile. There was some tire and wind noise inside the cabin at moderate and high-speeds, but overall the driving experience is very enjoyable.
I didn’t get this kind of mileage, but I was pushing the 2.5-liter four cylinder hard most of the week I had the car. Mazda says the new model gets EPA estimates of 25/37 mpg city/highway with the manual and 26/38 mpg city/highway with the automatic. That’s up from 21/30 mpg in the previous model with either transmission. When driven modestly, the Mazda 6 is very fuel-efficient approaching 40 mpg.
The all-new 2014 Mazda 6 features a sexy new design inside and out, offers a very engaging driving experience and gets very good fuel economy for a mid-size sedan. Mazda has hit on the right formula and if you are looking for something other than the usual players in the midsize sedan segment, the new Mazda 6 is a nice sporty alternative.