New Car Review: 2014 Mazda 6 Grand Touring Sedan (Updated)

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Mazda 6




Those are some of the one-word labels that get stuck on mid-size family sedans...especially the Toyota Camry, and, until the new one, the Honda Accord.  Well, even if you're not moved by the all-around goodness of the Accord, we dare you to be unmoved by the new Mazda 6.

Even when the midsizers (a group that also includes the Dodge Avenger, Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima) were at their blandest, the Mazda 6 has always been more of a driver's car.  Good to see they stepped up their game at the same time (some of)  the other guys did.

Side view of 2014 Mazda 6

Let's start with the styling.  For all the frothing at the mouth that has taken place over the Fusion's faux-Aston Martin nose, it's always been that...a nose...attached to a fairly pedestrian rest of the body.

Look at the 6.  Pictures really don't do it justice.  But if there's Aston in the Ford,  Mazda is channeling its inner Maserati.  The shapes all flow in a beautiful, brilliant expression of passion you just don't see in your garden-variety family sedan.

But that's the point...the Mazda 6 isn't a garden-variety family sedan.  It does what those do, it costs about what those cost.  It just has way more fun than they do.

Our tester was the top-of-the-line Grand Touring. Base price $29,495.  Astonishingly well-equipped.  I'll let Mazda lay out the standard equipment for you rather than typing it all out.  Get comfortable.

The powertrain? The SKYACTIV-G 2.5 liter four...184 horsepower, with a SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed Sport automatic transmission.  That doesn't sound like tons of power, but it makes the most of it, getting to 60 from a standing start in about 7 and a half seconds, which is a few tenths quicker than the Accord, Altima and Camry.

Fuel Economy?  EPA estimates are 26 city/38 highway.  In our case, it was overly optimistic...our combined city street/freeway driving got us about 28 instead of the EPA combined estimate of 30.  Still.

Been through that standard equipment list yet?  If so, you'll understand why the options list on our car was so short:  Soul Red paint ($300), and the MRCC (Mazda Radar Cruise Control) and FOW (Forward Obstruction Warning) Package ($900) were it.  With $795 delivery, the 6 rang in at $31,940.

Interior view of 2014 Mazda 6

The interior is roomy (six-footers are in fine shape in the back seat), comfortable and yet businesslike.  As is typical in all their cars, Mazda puts the focus on driving.  Yes, the color monitor is small.  Yes, the nav system is a fairly basic TomTom unit.  That's called minimizing distractions.   The TomTom will do what a nav system is supposed to...guide you to your destination.  Beyond that, you don't need to be dealing with 16 icons on an imitation iPad in the middle of your dashboard.

Because the fun in this family sedan is grabbing the steering wheel, looking straight ahead at the hopefully far from straight road in front of you, letting the lower part of your vision field discern the crystal-clear gauges just below your line of sight....and driving.

Oh, my does the 6 love to drive.  There's spirit, spark, energy.  Canyon roads are a natural habitat.  It's a Miata with five seats and adequate trunk space.  Or at least as close as we're ever likely to get.

If you sense that it's difficult to put it all into words and pictures, you're absolutely right.  Seriously, go drive one.  Then tell me if you think I'm wrong.  The new Accord slips a notch on the TireKicker's Top 10 Cars (So Far) list, as does the Altima just below it, and our longtime favorite, the Acura TSX.  All three are excellent cars, but the Mazda 6 is simply more rewarding to drive.

UPDATE:  We had a chance to drive another 2014 Mazda 6 Grand Touring for a week and weren't about to say no.  Some substantial differences between what we wrote above last summer and now:

  • Base price is now $200 higher, at $29,695.
  • EPA fuel economy estimates have improved, to 28 city/40 highway.
This one skipped the optional Mazda Radar Cruise Control and Forward Obstruction warning package ($900) in favor of the GT Technology Package, which includes both as well as the I-Eloop Regenerative Engine Braking System, high beam control, lane departure warning system and active grille shutter ($2080). The I-Eloop Regenerative Engine Braking system and active grille shutter were no doubt the items responsible for the 2 mpg boost in both city and highway fuel economy estimates.  This car was a standard color, Blue Reflex, so it didn't have the $300 extra charge that the Soul Red car did. Total price on this tester was then higher than on the last one...$32,845.  And still worth it.

One immediately noticeable comparison.  The first car had the almond leather interior (which creates a two-tone effect with the black surfaces).  The second had the black leather.  There is no charge for the almond leather, and you should absolutely get it.  The brightening of the cabin is remarkable...and we were wising the second Blue Reflex car had it as well.  

And...the second car was a much more thoroughly used example.  Several thousand miles on the odometer, all at the hands of exuberant TireKickers (automotive journalists) who treated it less than gently (as noted by a few dings, scratches, scuffed wheel rims and one actual chunk out of a tire.  Still...the 6 was a delight, none the worse for wear.  Our vote remains the same as in August...buy one.  

And treat it nice.