2018 MAZDA6

IT KEEPS GETTING BETTER

Although a lot of new-car buyers prefer SUVs, there is still a lot going on with traditional midsize sedans. The Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry have been just redesigned, and now a refreshed version of the Mazda6 is making its way to dealerships. The “6” gets a new optional engine, new interior décor and a new top-of-the-line model.

On the outside, the 2018 Mazda6 looks nearly identical to last year’s model, except that the grille is slightly different and LED headlights are standard. However, the interior gets a significant update. The dash has been resigned, and sports leatherette cladding with French stitching. A nicely integrated 8-inch infotainment screen sits in the center, and a new digital gauge with trip information graces the instrument cluster. Furthermore, the seats also got a makeover, and are now designed to follow the curvature of your spine.

However, the big news for 2018 is the introduction of a new turbocharged 2.5-liter engine. The naturally aspirated 2.5-liter, 184-hp motor is still standard on most models, but the turbo is available across the board. Interestingly, the turbo generates 250 horsepower on premium gas, but will still give you 227 horses if you choose regular unleaded. Both engines feature cylinder deactivation, in which two cylinders shut down in cruising situations to save gas.

The non-turbo 2.5 engine in my test car, provided adequate power, and delivered 30-mpg in city/hwy. driving, but the turbo motor will do a lot to enhance the sporty feel of this car. The base engine is available with six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. The turbo comes only with the automatic.

Mazda offers the 6 in four levels of trim, Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and the new top-of-the-line Signature. The Sport comes with the expected power windows/doors/mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, a six-speaker sound system and USB/IPOD interface. The Touring adds 19-inch wheels, keyless entry/start, navigation and pre-collision braking.

The Grand Touring delivers more luxury and high-tech features, such as leather upholstery, a moonroof, blind-spot warning and lane-keep assist. The new Signature model goes a step further with exclusive brown leather upholstery, and Sen wood trim.

Mazdas have been known for their “Zoom-Zoom” fun to drive quality, and the 2018 Mazda6 carries on that tradition. It strikes a nice balance between sporty handling and a comfortable ride. The steering is taut, and delivers a solid feel of the road. The suspension is tuned for enthusiastic driving, and the car tracks around corners with balance and composure. Yet, even with 19-inch wheels, the ride while slightly firm, is still satisfyingly compliant.

If you can live without a lot of amenities, you can get into the Sport model for around $23,000. But if you want a 6 with the luxury and high-tech features, the Grand Touring is a good value at $31,570.

 

SNAPSHOT REVIEW

New, More Powerful Engine

Attractive and Spacious Cabin

Sporty Driving

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