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2016 MAZDA6 Touring Roadtrip Review By Steve Purdy


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2016 Mazda6

2016 MAZDA6 TOURING
Review and Road Trip to DC

By Steve Purdy
Senior Editor
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau


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It is not just coincidental that my pretty wife and I made a week-long trip to Alexandria, VA (essentially Washington DC) nearly six years ago in a Mazda6. (See that road trip story HEREAnd now we are headed to DC again in a new 2016 Mazda6, this time with our regular traveling companions Rick and Kim. The commonality is our Mazda PR team came through with a car at the last minute for both trips. Rick, by the way, is a history buff and we’ll explore some of Washington’s highlights as well as do another road trip story on this good-looking car.

The Mazda6 is a front-wheel drive, mid-size, main-stream, 5-passenger sedan competing in one of the most crowded segments of the auto industry – think Malibu, Fusion, Camry, Accord, Sonata and many more. Just to keep up in this super-competitive group a car must be constantly adding content, enhancing efficiency and holding prices nearly steady not to mention keeping up with design and styling trends. So, let’s see how this one stacks up.


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Our test car is a “Touring” model (middle of three trim levels) in Soul Red ($300 paint option) with a Sand color leatherette interior. It starts at $23,995. The entry level “Sport” starts at $21,495 and the top-of-the-line “Grand Touring” starts at $30,195. The Touring model comes very well equipped including standard 19-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust, leatherette sport seats, 6-waypower driver’s seat, blind spot monitoring, push button start, dual-zone climate control and lots more stuff. We have the optional Touring and Technology Package, which includes navigation, the Bose Audio Package with sunroof and a few other extras for a total bottom line on the sticker of $29,315.

The Mazda6 has earned some impressive credentials like the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (when equipped with the Smart city Brake Support system) and Car and Driver’s “10 Best.” Mazda includes what they call Skyactiv technology to this, and just about all their cars now. Skyactiv includes comprehensive application of efficiency features to maximize fuel economy while maintaining driveability and the sporty character for which the brand is known.


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Under the hood we find a high-tech, 2.5-liter, normally-aspirated, 4-cylinder making 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with a sport mode that will hold lower gears when you need a bit more spirited acceleration. A V6 engine is not offered but kudos to Mazda for still offering a six-speed manual transmission for those who like to be more involved in the driving experience. Wish we had that one. The EPA estimates Our Mazda6 will do 38 mpg on the highway, 26 in the city and 31 mpg combined using regular fuel. We’ll have plenty of miles to see if we can match those numbers.


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We’ll spend at least 9 hours on the road for the drive to DC so comfort is important. Up front I found the six-way power driver’s seat firm and well bolstered. It took a bit of squirming and adjustment to accommodate my larger-than-most backside but once adjusted properly I was comfortable the whole way. The smallish 7-inch navigation/multifunction screen is mostly intuitive and easily managed with a control knob on the console. Materials, fit and finish inside are excellent with lots of aluminum trim and good quality black plastics, a generous amount of stitching and contrasting leatherette door panels and seats. Our rear seat passengers thought it comfortable back there as well particularly with the two vents behind the console to keep them cool on that 90-degree day and a nice armrest in the middle with cup holders. And, the Mazda6 was quiet enough inside that conversation was easy. The remarkably deep (rear bumper to rear seat back) trunk provided more space than we needed – 14.8 cubic-feet - for a week’s luggage and some groceries. (We’re staying at a condo with a kitchen.)


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The drive was easy notwithstanding the dozens of cops hawking us across the Ohio Turnpike. We probably could have glowed in the dark from the radar waves as we passed into Pennsylvania. It was Sunday of Labor Day weekend so traffic was light. Even as we approached DC in late afternoon onto the dreaded I-495 traffic did not congeal even once. Our only automotive complaint was the relative difficulty of ingress and egress both front and rear for those of us that are full-size or bigger. The lower roofline is great for looks but makes us duck rather tightly. And, I thought the B-pillar was an inch or so too far forward making it even harder, for me at least, getting in the driver’s door. That will not be a problem for average size drivers.


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We’re staying at the Wyndham Resort at National Harbor. Unfortunately, that requires us to navigate through one of the most convoluted and complex double freeway interchanges I’ve ever encountered, looking like two plates of spaghetti, one on each side of the river, on the Mazda’s navigation map. It took most of the week to learn its nuances as I-495, with local and express lanes in each direction, and I-295 intersecting with an untold number of integrated surface roads. National Harbor is a luxury resort development on the Potomac just south of the freeway where a huge Ferris wheel and large tour boats dominate the harbor itself. The accompanying village has a variety of resorts, condos, a Gaylord convention center, lots of upscale shopping and a couple dozen eateries. It even has a small Harley-Davidson store for apparel and accessories, not bikes.

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Our history lessons began at Mt. Vernon, just a few miles downstream on the other side of the river. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought much about U.S. history so a visit to George Washington’s home was in order. With the help of the Mazda’s navigation system and my iPhone map together we managed to get across the Potomac and southbound unscathed. The road runs along about eight miles of the river lined with parklands. Cyclists and joggers seemed unfazed by the heat of the day. And it was hot!

The visitors’ center at Mt. Vernon includes a beautiful gallery and an educational center telling stories of Washington’s life and the Revolution. On the grounds as well are Washington’s tomb and a variety of gardens and outbuildings that flesh out the stories told inside. Then, just a few miles further down the road we found a recreation of Washington’s mill and distillery. Did you know that, after he left the presidency, George became the largest producer of whisky in the country? We were disappointed not to find samples at the distillery.


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The next couple of days were spent driving into the city to browse some of the Smithsonian collections at the Museums of Natural History and American History along with a visit to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing where we watched them make $20 bills. The entire Mall between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument was torn up to replace the soil and sod so that it could be more resistant to the heavy use it gets year around. We also took in the Memorials of Thomas Jefferson, FDR and Martin Luther King, all of which surround the Tidal Basin where we found rare free parking. The main problem there was that from the parking area south of the Jefferson Memorial to the National Mall was well over a mile and it was well over 90-degrees and humid each day making for a brutal walk in the hot sun. That kind of weather is not uncommon this time of year in DC so you might think about that when scheduling your visit.


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The other problem was getting out of town headed back south to the resort. With construction everywhere and convoluted traffic patterns designed by a sadist we ended up headed the wrong way on I-395 and when we got off to go back the other way we had to circle though a maze of illogical street patterns to finally find a reentrance to the highway. My pretty wife hates it when I cuss, but I couldn’t help it. Even the Mazda’s decent navigation maps and my iPhone map were not enough to guide us through that trauma.


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Getting outa town at the end of our stay was not so easy. It took nearly an hour to go the 20 miles or so north to outbound I-270, but once past that glom it was smooth sailing all the way home. Even across Ohio we saw but two cops.

So, what did we think of the Mazda6 as a traveling car? We all gave it high marks.

Comfort, convenience and ambiance are as good as some more expensive cars. The quiet cabin and rear seat HVAC vents kept our rear seat passengers happy. Sporty driving dynamics, handling and overall performance kept me happy at the wheel. Gas mileage averaged just under 34 mpg no matter if we were on the highway or in the city. We used the Sport mode often in hilly areas and passing situations.

The navigation system’s maps are better than some with more detail at certain zoom factors, although it just went blank a couple of times. And, when you have the headlights on during the day (like for going though the tunnel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike) you cannot read the HVAC screen. Otherwise we found no fault with this car.

The Mazda6 does a fine job as a mid-size sedan and its sporty character gives it a bit of an advantage in my view. With pricing as reasonable as any you should put this one on your shopping list.

It is a truly admirable road trip car.

©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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