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2012 Mazda6 Ride and Review By Larry Nutson

2012 Mazda6 (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Mazda6

Mazda Specs, Comparisons and Prices - 2012-1997 Mazda Buyers Guide

2012 Mazda6
A good-choice go-to midsize sedan

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

I last drove the Mazda6 slightly over a year ago in its 2010 configuration. The Mazd6 was all-new in 2009 and continuous improvements for 2010 and 2011 found their way into an already very good mid-size sedan. For 2012 the entire package is carry-over, with no change save for five new colors replacing five that were dropped.

The mid-size sedan segment is very well populated with lots of good choices. There are really no bad cars in this day. Some entries may be considered bland and boring and some not. The Mazda6 is somewhat more distinctive in both appearance and driving characteristics. It offers a good solid and yet sporty ride with room for 5.

2012 Mazda6 (select to view enlarged photo)

The Mazda6 is offered in a choice of seven different models. I drove the lowest priced iSport with the manual 6-speed, priced at $20,240. Power comes from a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower. EPA fuel economy is 21 city mpg and 30 hwy mpg with the manual. The iSport performed well, was easy to drive, handling was nimble and responsive and shifting was light and precise. The only shortfall I found was the lack of a folding feature on the outside mirrors. The folding-in of the traffic-side outside mirror, lest it be broken off by a passing large truck, is pretty much a necessity when parallel parked on a narrow residential street in Chicago.

Other models powered by the 2.5-liter engine are all equipped with a 5-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy is 22 city mpg and 31 highway mpg for the automatic. An iSport is priced at $21,240, the iTouring at $22,885, the iTouring Plus at $24,490 and lastly the iGrand Touring at $27,070. As you move up the model range standard equipment is added. And by the way, the iTouring Plus and the iGrand Touring do have a fold-in feature on the outside mirrors.

Also available is a 60-degree 3.7-liter V6 engine with 272 horsepower and a 6-speed Sport automatic transmission. This is equipped on the sTouring Plus priced at $27,330 and the top-of-the-line sGrand Touring at $29,570. EPA fuel economy is 18 city mpg and 27 highway mpg.

All Mazda6s have a 16.6 cubic foot trunk which is failry adequate in size plus the fold-down rear seat is great for big loads. The fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons giving you a potential 500-plus mile highway driving range.

2012 Mazda6 (select to view enlarged photo)

The entry-level Mazda6 i Sport is equipped with 16-inch wheels, automatic headlight shutoff, air conditioning with pollen filter, power door locks and windows with a driver's side one-touch up/down feature, height-adjustable driver's seat, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, 60/40 split fold-down rear seats, a center IP display, AM/FM/CD/MP3-compatible six-speaker audio system and remote keyless entry with retractable key.

The Mazda6 i Touring adds 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, P215/55R17-sized all-season tires, fog lights, an eight-way power driver's seat, Bluetooth® hand-free audio and phone connectivity, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, a trip computer, premium interior trim touches as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Building on the i Touring, the Mazda6 i Touring Plus adds folding outside mirrors (as mentioned already) with turn signal lamps, ground illumination (when opening doors), a power moonroof, electroluminescent interior gauges, an anti-theft security system and a Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system.

The upper level-trimmed Mazda6 i Grand Touring is more luxurious with the addition of a 265-watt Bose® Centerpoint® 10-speaker Surround Sound System with AudioPilot®, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-trimmed seats with heated front seats, a Welcome lighting system and a multi-information display (MID) fitted with a built-in rearview camera.

The V-6 powered Mazda6 s Touring Plus models include a six-speed Sport automatic transmission and chrome dual exhaust finishers over the i Touring Plus model. The Mazda6 s Grand Touring adds 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, P235/45R18 all-season tires as well as chrome dual exhaust finishers over the i Grand Touring model.

For i and s Grand Touring models only, an available Technology Package priced at $1785 adds the Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry System, push-button start, memory driver's seat, front passenger power seat, auto on/off xenon headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink®, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated exterior mirrors, driver's side auto-dimming outside mirror, LED combination taillights and Sirius Satellite radio with a complimentary four-month subscription.

A Navigation System, priced at $2000 and which must be paired with the Technology Package, also is available and offers a DVD-based system with voice commands, a seven-inch LCD touch screen, real-time traffic display and a rearview camera that is viewed within the larger navigation screen and not via the smaller MID.

2012 Mazda6 (select to view enlarged photo)

On the interior, surface textures, gloss levels, parting lines, and decorative areas all are well executed. Blacked-out instrument faces with brighter metallic markings, pointers and trim are very distinctive. Seats offer good support with nice side bolsters and a good level of comfort on long trips.

The “sport” characteristics of the Mazda6 still yield a compliant and comfortable ride. Handling is crisp and responsive which is especially desirable in defensive driving and evasive maneuvers. On city street there is no bone-jarring harshness and at highway speeds I got a great sense of confidence behind the wheel.

2012 Mazda6 (select to view enlarged photo)

All 2012 Mazdas come with a comprehensive three-year/36,000-mile warranty covering every part on the vehicle except those subject to normal wear. Also, all 2012 models receive a five-year/60,000 mile power train warranty and a five-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty. Mazda has over 700 dealers throughout the United States.

Final word: Sporty on the outside, refined on the inside, zoom-zoom performance and you won’t see yourself at every stoplight like with some other mid-size cars.

© Larry Nutson