2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring HD Video Review


Shopping for a mid-sized sedan used to mean choosing between sedate and downright dull.  Think back to previous generations of Altima, Optima, Sonata, Malibu and Fusion.  At one time, each of them could be considered pharmaceutical-grade sleep aids.  Now, they’re sleek machines.  A few border on concept car material.

Hey, thanks for clicking the “like” located above the video. I live for that stuff.

2014 Mazda 6Add the 2014 Mazda6 to the well-dressed list.  For some it will make the top slot.  It gets its inspiration from the Takeri concept vehicle and doesn’t stray too far from it.  Design might be subjective, but an unusual number of people stopped to compliment the 6.  One guy- and I cannot make this up- asked me if it was a Tesla Model S.  I was gassing it up at the time.

I admire the svelte lines of the 6 but will say this about the KODO “soul of motion” design; occasionally, from some angles, the front fenders seem a little much.  Sure, this is akin to complaining that Kate Upton’s swimsuit is not to my liking.  I’m a critic.  We’re a picky bunch.

FYI, the Grand Touring tester I’m driving with blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control and rich Bose sound stickers for $31,495 with destination.

2014 Mazda 6One Very Hard Choice  There are some awesome choices in the mid-sized family sedan market these days where manufactures have precious little room for missteps.  Mazda is a small independent company.  Since they’ve parted ways with Ford, this made-in-Japan sedan is Mazda’s work through and through.

Mazda aims to snag buyers with a philosophy summed up by their “zoom-zoom” marketing slogan.  It’s not exactly “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, but hey, it’s the car that matters and Mazda delivers a thoroughly engaging experience.  You’ll search for the curvy route when driving the 6.  There’s very little body roll and the steering effort feels just right.  Front-drive cars don’t get much better than this.

2014 Mazda 6In it’s class, the 6’s ride quality is the firmest of the bunch (well okay, maybe Optima SX takes that prize). Considering Mazda6’s sporting aspirations, this fact should startle no one.  Small bumps are easily handled, big ones are definitely felt.  It’s never harsh though.  In fact, 6’s suspension dynamic has an underlying suppleness that feels expensive.  Brake hard and nose dive is well controlled.  Body rigidity is impressive too.

Two Engines  Mazda6 will get a diesel engine option in the second half of 2013 (which doesn’t require AdBlue treatment).  That means I’m driving the gas-powered 2.5-liter SKYACTIV four-cylinder, which delivers 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque to your right foot.  A six-speed manual is standard on the base model, Grand Touring gets a six-speed automatic that, in zoom-zoom spirit, gets steering wheel paddle shifters

Mazda6_Cut021_Aero_Global_SDN_Bottom-1Curious about SKYACTIV?  It’s Mazda’s suite of technologies to make their cars more efficient.  6 is the second Mazda to get the full SKYACTIV treatment of high-compression ratio engines, transmissions and aerodynamic tweaks (it has a .26 coefficient of drag).  Check out the CX-5 review for a full explanation.

Three To Get Ready  If forward thrust is how you measure zoom-zoom, know that Mazda6 doesn’t have a V6 or turbo option.  Fortunately, the car is no slouch; my approximate 0-60 time is 7.5 seconds.  Transmission shifts snap off decisively. There’s no wind noise up past speeding ticket velocity.  Road noise is mid-pack.  The EPA rates fuel economy at an impressive 26 city, 38 highway.  Driving briskly- as I suspect you will- I saw three mpg’s under that.

Mazda6_CUT002_HIGH_SDN_FrontStandard on Grand Touring is Smart City Brake Support which uses lasers to detect crash situations then brakes automatically to reduces collisions under 19 miles an hour.  Coming soon is i-ELOOP, the world’s first capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system to power all of a car’s electrical components.  It doesn’t use a dedicated electric motor and battery, making it efficient, light, and compact.  Mazda says i-ELOOP can improve overall fuel economy but it’s dependent on road conditions and driving habits.  Cranking up the Bose system can’t be helpful either.

For Serious Pilots  The no-nonsense instrument panel doesn’t distract drivers with superfluous swoops and graphics.  It’s all about giving good information.  Gauges are sober and readable with crisp white light.  Materials are high quality with soft touch surfaces.  The door handles feel good in hand.  Avoiding the carbon fiber cliché, plum lacquered trim looks rich.

Mazda6_CUT012_HIGH_SDN_InteriorMazda6 gets the luxury of simplicity.  It’s user interface (sans any fancy name) is easier to use than some found  in luxury brands.  Use the console knob and function buttons, voice command or touch screen in any combination to get what you want.  The 5.8-inch screen seems on the small size compared to some but the flexibility of operation choices make it fall-on-your face easy.  TomTom map information is stored on an SD card for easy updates. Use your smartphone data plan to stream Pandora.  Incoming texts can be spoken aloud, pre-programmed responses can be sent back.  Please, please don’t get distracted behind the wheel.  As a former news photographer I’ve seen the grizzly results.

The usual storage nooks are scattered about the cabin.  Side bolstering is just right on the firm comfortable seats.  They’re heated, but venting is not available.  Neither is a full-on panoramic glass roof.  Night lighting is pretty basic if that’s your thing.

2014 Mazda 6Five Passengers  Slide into Mazda6’s back seat and you’ll find the outboard positions comfortable and roomy enough. The center tunnel is on the big side, forcing feet onto the other occupants.  There’s no power port to charge electronics or heated seats that Sonata and Optima offer.  Door storage, air vents, duel seat pockets and folding armrest are here though.

Sedans like Accord, Camry, and Altima hold seven packs of the two-ply and sure enough, Mazda6 score the same in the TP Trunk Test.  The space is nicely finished off, hinge arms are protected from scrunching stuff, and there’s a space saver spare tire under the load floor. Seatbacks split and fold to expand the trunk.  Accord’s is a single unit, which is a drag when trying to get IKEA furniture home after bringing two friends to shop.  And eat meatballs of course.

2014+Mazda6trunk6 Appeal  At a base price of $21,675 with destination, Mazda6 is like finding a Tom Ford suit at Nordstrom Rack. Feature for feature, other cars might beat the 6’s price tag, but those are numbers.  It’s hard to put a price on soul and style.  Mazda’s done it. The 6 has that the intangible quality that enthusiasts crave- a highly rewarding driving dynamic.  Wrapped up in supermodel sheetmetal, the 2014 Mazda6 means drab and dull are a thing of the past.

 

STILL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY MAZDA

17 Comments

  1. LH452 says:

    Great review! I’ve been looking at possibly switch to one of the Skyactiv Mazda’s (along with looking at a wide spectrum of other cars) for awhile now though it seems like even with the bigger engine the 6 still seemed a little anemic and something feels missing without a little more power from the 2.5 to back up its handling. Were you able to drive the car with 3-4 people plus yourself in it by any chance?

    • TV says:

      I did have three people in it (including me) and it seemed fine compared to other cars in its class equipped with four-cylinder engines. I am judging it as a family sedan though, not a sport performance sedan.

      Sounds like you’re test driving though. That’s what I like to see! TV

  2. neel says:

    Can u please review the 2013 hyundai santa fe long wheelbase.

  3. SAEED DC says:

    Any options for getting a stick shift or a spoiler?

    and what is the wheel size? 18 inches?

    • TV says:

      Sport model gets a six-speed manual, Touring and Grand Touring are auto only.

      Sport gets 17″ alloys, T and GT are 19″.

      The GT I reviewed has the rear lip spoiler standard. Other models it’s optional.

  4. bob4116 says:

    Just want to add that if this is your first time seeing this car, well, you should see it in person. I saw it at the Detroit Auto Show, and loved it. Pictures and video really don’t do the car justice. Mazda has really stepped up their game, and have a number of vehicles that are worthy of your attention. Our closest Mazda dealer also sells VW and Subaru. The salesperson will have his hands full when we show up to test drive vehicles.

  5. peptoman says:

    Great review ! It gave me a lot more insight about the car. I also had the chance to test drive a Mazda 6 automatic GT and I liked it. I was wondering if you were able to comment on the manual transmission since Mazda supposedly revamped their manual gearboxes for the new 6 ? (From your personal experience or from what you’ve heard about it)

    Thanks

    • TV says:

      Sorry, I have not driven the manual transmission. Seems to me I read somewhere that it was quite good. It would surprise me to find Mazda putting a lousy manual in one of their cars.

  6. Facepalm says:

    Good review, Tom.
    I remember you mentioned in your review of the new Altima that it (the Altima) had perhaps the best handling of the current crop of midsize sedans. However, I think you also said somewhere that you said that without having driven the new Fusion and Accord. Now that you’ve driven the new Accord and the new Mazda6 (as well as the turbo-4 Malibu), would you give that title of best-handling to a different car?

    Also, the “new” CX-9 wouldn’t happen to be on your to-do list, would it? Or the CX-5 with the 2.5 engine? I think reviewers who are eager to try out the new 2.5 in the 2014 CX-5 are the guys who were let down by the original Skyactiv engine. I can’t remember if you were one of them, but my gut instinct says “no,” haha.

    • TV says:

      The two Mazdas are on my radar screen. The CX-5 was no barn burner, about the same as CR-V. I said it was fine in my review. More power is always more fun though, right?

      Let me ask you this- What constitutes best handling for you? Lateral G’s? Best combination of comfort and control? Complete absence of body roll? I only ask because it seems to be different for so many people. And like design, different people have different takes on it.

      Mazda6 is at the top of the heap for a front drive car. Describing it like a wine, I’d say it has great control, a firm character with a velvety finish that’s supple on small bumps. Very refined. Probably a little stiff for the comfort buyer.

      Altima is the crowd pleaser. The dynamics are tightly controlled with a softer overall quality about it without resorting to sloppy. It does more than most mainstream owners will ask of it, quietly lulling them into enjoying driving more than they realized. In other words, they’ll notice it when they get into a Camry.

      Accord seems a little more dialed in toward comfort than Altima with just enough athleticism to make it appealing to a wide spectrum of buyers.

      These are all great cars Facepalm. While I think the buff books have done a tremendous job of teaching buyers what to look for over the past 40 years, I find the whole obsession to find “the best” a little precious these days. It causes buyers to lock up when trying to choose a car due to some “expert” saying one’s better than the other. An enthusiast’s reason for scoring a car high might be completely different than the needs of an ordinary Joe or Jane what needs a big back seat and trunk.

      Performance and handling are so good these days you often need to take a car on the track to discern which can handle 10/10th performance better. So what I’m getting at is this- look at the whole car. Put a bias toward the qualities you like and then put your money down.

      Does this answer your question or have I gone off on a (long) tangent? Sorry, it’s late and easier to write long rather than short.

      • Facepalm says:

        Thanks for the in-depth response, Tom. While I don’t have much, if any, experience with cars renowned for their handling, I’d have to guess that what I constitute as good handling is something that is at least a bit fun as well as easy to steer, has just the right amount of sportiness in the suspension (but not overdoing it), and has enough “feel” to it that you have a sense of being connected to what’s going on with your car and the road. Regarding that last bit, cars that have zero feedback and feel as if they’re gliding over the pavement do not sit well with me. My dad’s 2007 XJL is like that and it’s not that it’s an issue with his particular car, as Kelley Blue Book’s review of the same model mentioned it as well. It’s a very odd feeling to drive something so smooth, plus the power delivery is very good so it accelerates quick and it feels like you’re in a hovercraft or something, lol.

        I get what you’re saying about the handling, though.
        Again, thanks for the long response, I really appreciated it.
        Though I thought I might add that while I may mention Car & Driver or MotorTrend every now and then, I don’t actually read it for the performance stats or other performance-related stuff, I mainly like going on to their site for auto show coverage and new car spy shots and reveals. I love seeing a car’s new design. With their reviews it always seems like they’re unsatisfied with anything less than 200HP or a turbocharger and I personally don’t care for that kind of stuff. I’m more about practicality and daily usefulness… which I suppose is one reason why I enjoy your reviews so much, haha.

  7. GusGT says:

    I’m now a fan of the Mazda 6. It seems like every visual aspect of this car flows. I especially think the rear end looks more expensive than it is. TV, both Mazda and Ford have really stepped up their product offerings. Do you feel that Ford was in some way holding back Mazda’s creativity?

  8. kay3460 says:

    I think I’ve asked this question before, but I will ask it again since I can not find the answer. Regarding diesel engines, are there any diesel engined cars in NA that DO NOT require AdBlue?

    • TV says:

      I believe the small VW TDIs (Jetta, Golf, Beetle and Audi A3) go without AdBlue because they can get by with NOx reduction by using a catalytic converter.

  9. spidey1968 says:

    I think there are a lot of Mazda fans out there that have been waiting for this car. It looks great. Looking forward to hearing how the diesel version compares.

  10. ScoobaSteve says:

    Thanks for reviewing this car. I think it’s extremely attractive. I currently drive a Mazdaspeed3 and it’s about time to trade it in for something a bit more mature. As a big Mazda fan, this car is at the top of my list along with the 2014 CX-5 with the same 2.5 engine.