HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 MAZDA6 REVIEW


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 Mazda6 (Sport Trim Shown)


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE MAZDA6 VEHICLE
Completely redesigned for 2014, the Mazda6’s new look takes a curvaceous turn and becomes the second vehicle in the lineup to incorporate the full suite of SKYACTIV technology for a more regal and serious performance take on what could have ended up as just another boring mid-size sedan.

I drove a 2104 Mazda6 sedan with the SKACTIV-G 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to the SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed Sport automatic transmission. Available in three trims – the base Sport, Touring and Grand Touring – my fully loaded Grand Touring trim came with the following standard features: dual-zone climate control; Bluetooth; backup camera; advanced keyless entry; push-button start; eight-way power driver’s seat and power passenger seat; heated front seats; leather upholstery; an upgraded Bose audio system; USB port and auxiliary input jack; HD radio; steering wheel mounted controls; 5.8-inch display; Pandora radio; SMS text function delivery and reply; navigation; Bi-Xenon headlights; adaptive front lighting system; Halogen fog lights; nineteen-inch wheels; and a sunroof. Total price as described came to $29,495.

Mazda takes a move right out the Hyundai’s playbook by using artistic talk to describe the design process behind the Mazda6, labeling the look as KODO or ‘Soul of Motion.’ Main competitors are the sleek Kia Optima, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu and Nissan Altima.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Mazda6 should shake up the buying market that too easily looks the brand over. Inside you’ll find beautiful two-toned black and tan leather upholstery complimented by a well-thought out center stack design with intuitive dials and buttons. Rear head- and legroom is a delight, and the truck space is deep and functional. Like Honda, Mazda now provides a backup camera with the base model. One downside is the telematics system and touchscreen is not as vivid or modern as Ford and Kia competitors. Overall, the new exterior shape is stimulating and sporty.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2014 Mazda6 earned a Top Safety Pick by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the vehicle year. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, dynamic stability control, hill-start assist, and an advanced airbag system. A blind spot monitoring system comes with the Touring and additional features for the Grand Touring trim include the available Lane Departure Warning and Forward Obstruction Warning.

Cost Issues: The base Sport trim starts at $20,990 and the mid-level Touring at $23,645. My $29,495 Grand Touring trim also come with an available $300 Soul Red exterior color and a $900 Mazda Radar Cruise Control and Forward Obstruction Warning package for a total price of $30,695.

Activity & Performance Ability: The acceleration is responsive and matched by quick handling characteristics, shining when pushed to limits on tight turns and high-speed thoroughfares. The larger nineteen-inch wheels do make for a stiffer suspension response. The coupe-like design means it is a slightly snug ride; the Camry and Accord give the impression of more room than the Mazda6. The rear doorway is workable for child seats with plenty of space for front passenger legroom.

The Green Concern: The 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder is the only engine available (as of August 2013, diesel coming soon!) and offers fuel estimates of 26-city and 38-highway for a combined 30 miles-per-gallon. The i-Eloop feature takes it to 32-combined (this is Mazda’s regenerative engine braking system).

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Staged to upset the segment stalwarts, the redesigned 2014 Mazda6 is the more affordable mid-size sedan choice for shoppers who expect sporty looks to be matched with impressive performance technology.

2013 Katrina Ramser

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