2014 Mazda Mazda6 Rocky Mountain Review


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2014 Mazda6


By Dan Poler
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel

Given recent concessions to fuel economy, there are a lot of vehicles coming onto the market which are fun, but not in the traditional sense of big-power-must-go-fast. The 2014 Mazda6 is a perfect example of this trend. All-new for 2014, we found this new family sedan to be somewhat lacking in the power department, but that doesn’t stop it from putting a smile on your face.

The Mazda6 has always seemed to take some pride in being a step apart, a less traditional-looking approach to the five-passenger sedan. 2014’s redesign does not disappoint – the striking design with its long, low exterior and aggressive fascia belies the fact that this is ultimately a midsize family car.

Our tester came equipped with a beautiful deep red paint, called Soul Red by Mazda, which really served to highlight the curves and sleekness of the body.

We also had Mazda’s top-end Grand Touring package, which adds a great number of features to the base Mazda6, including a rear spoiler, xenon adaptive headlights, LED daytime running lights, foglights, a sunroof, leather, an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar support, a four-way power passenger seat, driver memory functions, heated front seats, and satellite radio. These features are in addition to items like dual-zone climate control, keyless ignition and entry, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a rearview camera provided on lower-trim models. Our tester with all these features came in a shade under $31,000 representing a decent value for the price.

That long body provides for a cavernous trunk and excellent rear legroom, although rear headroom is a bit restrictive for taller passengers. Up front, leather-trimmed seats are comfortable and attractive. In fact, the entire passenger cabin is nicely executed – if you didn’t know it was a Mazda you would be forgiven for thinking you’re in a luxury car costing thousands more.

Material quality and fit and finish are excellent, absent gobs of hard plastic and oddly-placed seams. The instrument cluster is a gently backlit off-white-on-black motif which is easy on the eyes. Controls are well-placed and easy to use (well, mostly – we’ll get to that in a second), and the upgraded Bose stereos is one of the best we’ve heard in quite some time in any vehicle, at any price.

There are, however a couple of missteps in the interior – the navigation / entertainment system is driven by a small screen and a combination of onscreen touch, controls surrounding the screen, and a duplicate set of controls between the driver and passenger seats. The setup is confusing, with pushes, pulls, and presses of controls required for the most simple tasks, and slow responses and feedback from the display.

As we mentioned, the Mazda6 is maybe a bit lacking in the power department (especially at our mountain elevation). Driven by its 184-hp 2.5-liter SKYACTIV 4-cylinder engine, passing on two-lane country roads can be a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. Whereas competitors like the Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima offer turbo or V6 upgrades, Mazda does not – we hope to see an upgraded engine choice from Mazda in the future to round out available options on the Mazda6 including a diesel option this fall. All told, we averaged a respectable 33 MPG from the Mazda6.

Despite the relatively low power from the engine, other factors conspire to make driving the Mazda6 a fun experience. The six-speed shiftable automatic transmission is responsive, with no hesitation in downshifting, the steering feels wonderful, and the car corners competently without a hint of roll or discomfort. It’s also worth noting that the Mazda6 is one of the only family sedans that remains available with a stick shift for additional engagement of the driver.

The Mazda6 is no slouch on the safety and security front either – in addition to relatively standard features like blind spot monitoring and a slew of airbags, the Mazda6 features Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support system which can help avoid a frontal collision in slow traffic by using a laser to detect an obstacle in front of the vehicle and can apply brakes and reduce acceleration before the driver has a chance to react.

Ultimately, the redesign of the 2014 Mazda6 is a job well done, and a great reminder that they who have the most fun driving are not necessarily they with the most ponies under the hood. The vehicle feels more than built – it feels crafted, with thought and consideration given to each interior detail. Although we wish for a more powerful engine choice and a less-clunky navigation and entertainment setup, these features don’t detract from the pleasure and comfort of being behind the wheel.

Specifications

2014 Mazda Mazda6
Base Price: $20,480.00
Price as Tested: $30,865.00
Engine Type: SKYACTIV-G DOHC 4-Cyl
Engine Size: 2.5-liter
Horsepower: 184 hp @ 5700 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 185 ft-lbs. @ 3250 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic
Wheelbase / Length (in): 111.4 / 191.5
Curb Weight: 3,232
Pounds per HP: 17.57
Fuel Capacity (gal): 16.4
Fuel Requirement: Regular unleaded
Tires: Dunlop SP Sport 5000 225/45WR19
Brakes, front/rear: Ventilated disc / Solid Disc
Suspension, front/rear: MacPherson Strut / Multi-link
Ground clearance (in): 6.7
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive

EPA Fuel Economy - MPG city / highway / observed: 26 / 38 / 33

Base Trim Price: $29,495.00

Options and Charges

Clear film rear paint protection: $75.00
Cargo mat: $75.00
Soul Red paint: $300.00
Door sill trim plates: $125.00
Delivery: $795.00
Price as tested: $30,865.00

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