Mid-size family sedans, in general, are really boring to look at, not exciting to drive, and handle like marshmallows. However, every rule and/or theory has an exception and in this case, it’s the 2016 Mazda 6. This week, I had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of one and experience how”zoomtastic” this mid-size sport sedan actually is.
The current generation Mazda 6 debuted as a 2014 model and caught its mid-size sedan competitors off guard. Unlike its mainstream rivals, the Mazda 6 is attractive to look at, comfortable to sit in, and a hoot to drive.
On the outside, the 2016 Mazda 6 receives a new front bumper with redesigned lower intake openings, while the grille features bright, upscale-looking horizontal slats. The inside of the taillights are redesigned too. Inside, the 2016 Mazda 6 gets a new dashboard and center console, but retains the older door panels and seats. The top of the dashboard is dominated by a floating-tablet style, 7 inch infotainment touchscreen, similar to ones found in the Mazda 3 and the CX-3.
Like many European sport sedans, the 6 features a rotary knob and hard keys at the bottom of the center console, which controls various audio, navigation, and HVAC functions.
Options and Features
The 2016 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring has a starting price of $30,195. In my opinion, it is a good value considering all the cool features you get as standard in this trim. The only package available was the Technology Package ($2,180) which adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, i-ELOOP regenerative engine braking, lane departure warning, high beam control, and active grille shutters.
Additional standalone options in my tester included remote engine start ($550), rear parking sensors ($475), and all-weather floor mats ($125). With everything tallied up, the final, out the door price on my test vehicle was $34,345 (which included the $820 destination fee).
Engine Features and Fuel Mileage
The engine in the 2016 Mazda 6 is a DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-capable inline 4 cylinder with aluminum block/heads and direct fuel injection. The motor produces 184 horsepower @ 5700 rpm and 185 lb.ft. torque @3250 rpm.
A 6-speed automatic with manual shift mode and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters is standard.
Fuel mileage is 26 mpg in city and 38 mpg on the highway. With the technology package and the i-ELOOP regenerative braking, the fuel efficiency ratings jump to 28 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. The fuel tank can hold up to 16.4 gallons of regular unleaded.
Every Mazda model is infused with the “zoom-zoom” DNA and this is where the 6 shines the brightest. The moment you sit in the sport seats and grab the thickly padded steering wheel, you get this feeling of something more than just an ordinary mid-size sedan. That feeling is further reinforced when you crank up the engine and hear it come to life.
I know it only makes 184 horsepower and 185 lb.ft. torque, but the way it deliveries these ponies to the ground makes all the difference. The gear lever is well designed and the moment you put it into sport mode, the grin on your face grows so wide, it will eventually start hurting your jaw muscles.
That’s a good thing. Believe me.
The chassis of the Mazda 6 is so well balanced, I am sure it can handle more power than what it has got now. The transmission shifts very smoothly in the drive mode, but the real fun begins in the sport mode.
This is where you get to feel the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Stopping power is also very good in the Mazda 6 as it features 4 wheel discs with 4 channel ABS with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and brake assist. Rotors are 11.7 inch vented discs up front and 10.9 inch solid discs at the back.
Going around bends is a real pleasure thanks to the rack and pinion steering, which is controlled by an electric, speed-sensitive power assist system. It does a good job of relaying the information between the steering wheel and the front tires. The response is instantaneous and sharp.
Overall ride quality is also well balanced between sport and comfort. Suspension is a 4-wheel independent setup, with MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar in front, and multilink with stabilizer bar at back.
The top-of-the-range 2016 Mazda 6 i Gran Touring rides on a set of 19 x 7.5 inch alloy rims, which are wrapped in P225/45 R 19 all-season radial tires. These tires provide sufficient grip for daily drivers and occasional back road racers, but if you want to get the most out of your chassis and suspension components, I would highly recommend that you upgrade to high-performance summer tires.
Trust me, you will be happy with the results.
Like I said, mid-size family sedans can be boring to look at, not exciting to drive, and handle like marshmallows. However, if that is not your concept of a mid-size family sedan, then the 2016 Mazda 6 is the car for you. Compared to its mainstream rivals, the 6 is an absolute standout when it comes to looks, comfort, performance, and handling.
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So, if you are in the market looking for a vehicle that provides the driving dynamics of a BMW 3-Series at the price of a Toyota Camry, then I highly recommend you go and drive the Mazda 6.
This thing really is zoomtastic!