By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
One of the things we like about Mazda vehicles is their obsession improvement. That’s not to say other manufacturers aren’t improving their cars, it’s just that Mazda doesn’t to wait around for a new generation to make changes, they just do it.
For example, for 2018 Mazda is giving their flagship sedan a facelift, more Zoom Zoom, and two new trim levels.
The 2018 Facelift
The facelift was subtle because designers didn’t want to mess with what we believe to be one of the best-looking mid-size sedans in the business. It’s a car that turns heads with its long low look four-door coupe silhouette, sweeping front fenders, sculpted side panels and rear end.
New Signature Model
The most significant luxury update is the addition two new top models, the Grand Touring Reserve and top-of-the-line Signature model which is designed to attract customers trading up from traditional luxury brands. The Mazda6 Signature is available with either Parchment or Deep Chestnut Nappa leather seating surfaces, Japanese Sen wood interior accents, gilded UltraSuede®, a 360? View Monitor, front and rear parking sensors, seven-inch TFT reconfigurable gauge display, frameless rearview mirror and a gunmetal-colored grille.
Under the Skin Improvements
Other updates include increased sound insulation throughout, standard G-Vectoring Control — a Mazda-exclusive technology that makes steering response more direct and linear by using a minute reduction of engine torque at turn-in to put extra weight on the front tires. The Mazda6’s chassis has also been revised to provide a suppler ride, greater agility and less noise.
Finally, a Turbocharged Engine
On past tests of the Mazda6 we’ve thought to ourselves or mentioned in our review that it would be nice to have a turbocharged engine. For 2018, Mazda plucked the 250-hp, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine from their CX-9 SUV. The SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine, pushing a six-speed automatic transmission is significantly quicker than the non-turbo four-cylinder engine with a 6.4-second 0 to 60 mph, but it’s still a tad slower than some of the competitors.
A Six-Speed Manual Available
Mazda still offers the Mazda6 Sport with a standard six-speed manual transmission for drivers who want to maintain more control that just using the paddle shifter on the steering wheel of upper level automatic transmission models. The Sport is only available with the standard 187-hp four-cylinder Skyactiv® engine, however.
The turbocharged engine has an EPA fuel economy rating of 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. We averaged 27.2 mpg during a week behind the wheel doing mostly highway driving.
The features list gets a multitude of new entries in the form of LED headlights that move with the steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer, Active Driving Display, front seat ventilation and heat, rear heated seats, and heated steering wheel. There is also Smart City Brake Support, Radar Cruise Control with Stop and Go function, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning and High Beam Control. Our Signature test car has all the features we expect to find on cars costing $20,000 to $30,000 more.
Now Five Trim Levels
The 2018 Mazda6 is available for the first time in five trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve and Signature. Pricing ranges from $22,845, including the destination charge, for the Sport with manual transmission. The automatic is $1,050 more. The base price on the new Grand Touring Reserve and Signature model is $32,595 and $35,645 respectively. The only option available on the Signature is color, which can add up to $595.
A Top Competitor
The Mazda6 competes in one of the toughest automotive categories against cars like Altima Accord, Camry, Fusion, Legacy, Malibu, Optima, Passat and Sonata and we think it’s right at the top of the list for styling, features and comfort. The addition of the turbocharged engine and the Signature trim level help the positioning even more.
The Mazda6 is enjoyable to drive and comfortable for everyone front and rear. We especially like the high level of driver aids. The handling is among the best in class and it’s one of the best values for the category. If you are shopping for a mid-size sedan, do not miss the Mazda6.