2008 Mazda MAZDA6 Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 6, 2008

The 2008 Mazda6 lags behind the competition in terms of space and practicality, but it’s still among the most fun-to-drive affordable sedans.

To put together this comprehensive review on the new Mazda6, the automotive experts at TheCarConnection.com searched to find some of the best reviews on the Web. Then the experienced editors at TheCarConnection.com included their driving impressions of the Mazda6 to help yield an especially useful review.

Mazda's mid-size sedan, the Mazda6, returns for 2008 with some changes to the lineup; the 2008 Mazda6 is still also available as a five-door hatchback, but the Sport Wagon has been discontinued. In addition, the Mazda6 loses its hot sports version, the Mazdaspeed6, for 2008.

The standard 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at 156 horsepower; the optional 3.0-liter V-6 makes 212 horsepower. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard on the base 2008 Mazda6 model, with a four-speed automatic transmission available optionally; V-6s can be mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.

The Mazda6 is several hundred pounds lighter than most mid-size sedans, so don't let its unimpressive horsepower figures scare you away. The 2008 Mazda6 has peppy performance with the nice, refined four-cylinder engine and manual transmission, while the V-6 feels torquey and responsive from just about any speed, with either the manual or automatic. A sluggish throttle calibration on the V-6 keeps it from being as much fun as it should be, though, and with better fuel economy of 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, the four-cylinder is the best choice if you prefer the manual.

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Handling is one of the Mazda6's strongest selling points. It has very crisp, direct steering, and the Mazda6 has great poise in corners, with very little body lean. The ride is quite smooth and absorbent, though there's an underlying firmness, so railroad tracks and potholes can be jarring.

The Mazda6's interior styling, considered among the best five years ago, is now becoming quite dated, but it still manages to look attractive. However, the climate and audio controls are quite low in the driver's field of vision, and the controls are unnecessarily odd (buttons that appear to be knobs), while the display is mounted higher. Front seats in the 2008 Mazda6 are very firm, supportive, and comfortable, with better lateral support than most mid-size sedans--headroom can be right for taller drivers, though--but the backseat is downright cramped unless the front seats are quite far forward. In the hatchback mode, loading and unloading is a bit easier, and the seats fold forward to create a more useful cargo area than in the sedan.

In the 2008 Mazda6 lineup, four-cylinder models are designated 'i,' while V-6 models are designated 's.' Both come in VE, Touring, and Grand Touring models, while the sedan also comes in a base model. VE models come quite well equipped, with steering-wheel audio controls, a six-disc changer, cruise control, and an alarm system, but top Grand Touring models upgrade to a host of upscale features including a moonroof, HID headlamps, heated mirrors, leather-trimmed heated seats, and automatic climate control. Sirius Satellite Radio is available; other options on the list include remote engine start and a voice-activated navigation system.

The 2008 Mazda6 has crash-test results that are respectable but not at the top of its class. In the federal crash tests, the Mazda6 was rated five stars for frontal impact but four stars for side impact, with a Good rating for frontal impact and a Marginal rating for rear impact from the IIHS. The Mazda6 now has most of the standard safety features that are expected in the mid-size class, including front side airbags, side curtain airbags, and anti-lock brakes. However, electronic stability control, a lifesaving feature that is rapidly becoming expected in this class, is not offered.

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2008 Mazda MAZDA6

Styling

The 2008 Mazda Mazda6 is beginning to show its age, but for the last model year of this style, it has held up remarkably well.

Mazda's mid-size sedan, the Mazda6, returns for 2008 with some changes to the lineup; the 2008 Mazda6 is still also available as a five-door hatchback, but the Sport Wagon has been discontinued. In addition, the Mazda6 loses its hot sports version, the Mazdaspeed6, for 2008.

The current version of the 2008 Mazda Mazda6 first appeared five years ago, so there's nothing groundbreaking stylistically on this latest 2008 Mazda. However, the fact that the Mazda6 has managed to sell well and still appear decently fresh after such a long run is a testament to its styling virtues. Kelley Blue Book writes that "the sleek MAZDA6 stands in stark contrast with the rest of the midsize family sedan field," thanks to the "sensuous body shape" and "prominent grille" on the sedan. Kelley Blue Book reviewers add that the other available body style of Mazda's 2008 Mazda6, a five-door hatchback, manages to "add versatility without interfering with the car's attractive appearance," an impressive feat that is the result of "disguising the hatchback so that it appears to be a conventional rear window and trunk lid." The words used to describe the exterior of the Mazda 2008 Mazda6 sedan range from "sporty and cute" at Mother Proof to "stylish" at Edmunds to "handsome" from Car and Driver. The praise continues for the hatchback version of the Mazda6, which Edmunds claims "maintains a very sedanlike profile and to some eyes, its fastback profile is more attractive than the traditional four-door sedan."

The Mazda6's interior styling, considered among the best five years ago, is now becoming dated, but it still manages to look attractive. The climate and audio controls are quite low in the driver's field of vision, and the controls are unnecessarily odd (with buttons that appear to be knobs), while the display is mounted higher. ConsumerGuide loves the "unobstructed gauges" and "simple rotary knobs" that control the audio and climate systems. Reviewers at Edmunds appreciate the "clean and contemporary design" that is coupled with "attractive" materials. Kelley Blue Book adds that for Mazda, 2008 brings an interior appearance that is "quite good," and in particular praises the "nickel finish" that adorns the "wide center stack" containing most control knobs. Further noteworthy styling cues include "an oversized speedometer and tachometer," along with gauges that are "backlit in a constantly glowing, easy-to-read deep red light," according to Kelley Blue Book.

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2008 Mazda MAZDA6

Performance

The 2008 Mazda Mazda6’s killer app is handling; good engine power with the V-6 is a bonus, as is four-cylinder fuel economy.

In recent years, Mazda has begun to develop a reputation for crisp handling and a fun driving experience that far exceeds the sticker price of its cars. The 2008 Mazda Mazda6 is no exception, and the driving experience and performance of this 2008 Mazda leave most reviewers suitably impressed.

The Mazda6 is several hundred pounds lighter than most mid-size sedans, so don't let its unremarkable horsepower figures scare you away. The 2008 Mazda6 has peppy performance with the nice, refined four-cylinder engine and manual transmission, while the V-6 feels torquey and responsive from just about any speed, with either the manual or automatic.

For Mazda, 2008 Mazda6 i models feature a 2.3-liter, 156-horsepower four-cylinder engine that Kelley Blue Book says is "a strong performer, but only when operating in the higher engine speed ranges." They add that "fuel economy and a lower price are the primary reasons to choose the four-cylinder" over the available V-6 that powers Mazda's 2008 Mazda6 s models. Edmunds finds that the "s model upgrades to a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 212 hp and 197 lb-ft" of torque. Edmunds also notes that the Mazda6 s "will run to 60 mph in about 8 seconds flat, which is respectable, but at least a second off the pace of the segment speedsters." ConsumerGuide reviewers say "the base 4-cylinder is acceptably peppy with a manual transmission but is sluggish with an automatic," while the "V6 is noticeably stronger, but best power demands high rpm operation." Car and Driver writes that the entry-level Mazda6 i Sport trim level "is only available as a sedan" and only offers the four-cylinder engine. However, the other trim levels all feature either engine option.

The various trims and engine options on the 2008 Mazda Mazda6 can be mated to several different transmissions. ConsumerGuide writes that the Mazda6 i Sport features only a "5-speed manual transmission," while the Sport VE offers a standard five-speed manual or optional "5-speed automatic transmission w/manual-shift capability" on the i Sport VE and "6-speed automatic transmission w/ manual-shift" on the s Sport VE. Car and Driver rounds out the transmission list by noting that Touring and Grand Touring trims are only available with "a five-speed automatic (four-cylinder models) or a six-speed automatic (V-6 versions)." Cars.com finds that "the five-speed shift linkage is slick and positive, and the clutch action is easy enough that you don't even mind driving in heavy traffic," high praise for a manual transmission. Edmunds also compliments the "smooth, quiet power delivery" of the automatic.

For 2008, Mazda's Mazda6 offers acceptable fuel economy, though unsurprisingly, it varies somewhat between engine and transmission choices. The EPA estimates that the four-cylinder will return 21/29 mpg with the manual transmission and 21/28 mpg when equipped with the automatic. The thirstier V-6 offers 17/25 mpg with the manual and 18/25 mpg as an automatic, thanks largely to the extra gear.

Handling is one of the Mazda6's strongest selling points. It has very crisp, direct steering, and the Mazda6 has great poise in corners, with very little body lean. The ride is quite smooth and absorbent, though there's an underlying firmness, so railroad tracks and potholes can be jarring. Car and Driver summarizes the Mazda6 as an "agile, fun-to-drive sedan." ConsumerGuide expands upon that opinion, adding that "all models use basically the same suspension settings," which result in "agile, confident cornering with modest body lean, plus fine straightline tracking." One complaint that arises concerns the wide turning radius, which Mother Proof says "made U-turns and parking far more difficult than it needed to be" during road tests; ConsumerGuide reviewers add that the "wide turning circle hurts close-quarters maneuverability." However, this seemed to be one of the only handling gripes, as Edmunds says that "communicative steering goes a long way toward making the 6 fun to drive," and ConsumerGuide praises the "strong and progressive" brakes and "generally absorbent" ride on the Mazda6.

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2008 Mazda MAZDA6

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Mazda Mazda6 has ample front seat room, tight rear seat room, and versatile cargo space.

The 2008 Mazda Mazda6 presents occupants with a suitable, if not class-leading, interior and respectable cargo space.

The front seats offer "ample leg space and adequate headroom" for six-footers, according to reviewers at ConsumerGuide, but "the seats could use longer cushions." In the back of Mazda's 2008 Mazda6 sedan, Mother Proof finds that the "backseat is roomy enough" for a pair of adults and can "even fit three, so long as the center passenger [doesn't] require a safety seat or much legroom." However, Edmunds finds that "rear hiproom and shoulder room are tight."

For a mid-size sedan, the 2008 Mazda Mazda6 offers impressive cargo space and interior practicality. ConsumerGuide is surprised to find that "all models have roomy and nicely trimmed cargo holds," and while "the sedan's trunk won't swallow bulky objects," the hatchback's certainly will. Edmunds provides a couple of firm numbers for this 2008 Mazda by saying that "the sedan has a 15.2-cubic-foot trunk capacity, while the hatchback boasts a very impressive 22-cubic-foot cargo hold that expands to 59 cubes with the rear seat folded down." Inside the passenger cabin, "there is decent cabin storage, plus rear under-floor storage in the hatchback," ConsumerGuide writes.

Interior materials and build quality are becoming ever more important to consumers, and if there's one gripe about the Mazda's 2008 Mazda6, this would be it. Car and Driver feels that the "less than stellar interior materials make the 6 feel a bit less refined than some of its competition," and Edmunds agrees, writing that "most materials are attractive, but they're a step below in quality compared to what's found in the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima." Kelley Blue Book offers a differing opinion, however, finding that the "quality of materials is quite good" for the price. However, the majority of reviews read by TheCarConnection.com disagreed.

While it may be fun to throw this 2008 Mazda sedan around corners, hard driving exposes another drawback on the Mazda6: road noise. Reviewers at Cars.com find that the "raucous, raspy noises emanating from the engine compartment and the tailpipe" seriously detracts from driving enjoyment, and they list this as a "big downside." ConsumerGuide agrees, writing that neither engine "is super-quiet," though on the positive side, they feel that "there is no undue wind roar."

7

2008 Mazda MAZDA6

Safety

The lack of stability control is a concern, but otherwise, the 2008 Mazda Mazda6 is an acceptably safe sedan.

The 2008 Mazda Mazda6 has been crash-tested by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and it performed quite well.

For 2008, Mazda has earned the NHTSA's highest award for frontal impact protection, a full five stars, and four out of five stars for side impacts. In IIHS tests, the 2008 Mazda Mazda6 earned the Institute's highest rating, "good," for frontal offset tests.

When it comes to standard safety equipment, the Mazda 2008 Mazda6 offers the usual assortment of features; Car and Driver writes that "dual front airbags, side-impact airbags, curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, front-seatbelt pretensioners, and tire-pressure monitoring are standard across the Mazda 6 lineup." However, they also write that, "disappointingly, electronic stability control is not available on" any of Mazda's 2008 Mazda6 vehicles. Mother Proof adds that the Mazda's 2008 Mazda6 features a pair of "LATCH connectors" for installing child safety seats.

For 2008, Mazda does not offer any optional safety features on the Mazda6.

Sitting in the driver's seat of the 2008 Mazda6, Consumer Guide writes that drivers will find that "visibility is hampered to the rear by the standard spoiler on hatchbacks," which creates a potential safety concern. However, other than that one configuration, visibility is good in all directions.

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2008 Mazda MAZDA6

Features

The 2008 Mazda Mazda6 sports a wealth of cool standard features, especially as you move up the trim levels.

The 2008 Mazda Mazda6 doesn't disappoint when it comes to cool features, and while the ability to customize isn't spectacular, there is still some room for personalization of your 2008 Mazda.

As one would expect, standard features vary across the trim levels of the 2008 Mazda Mazda6. All trims of Mazda's 2008 Mazda6 feature "cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls," and "a six-speaker AM/FM stereo with CD player and Sirius satellite radio capability," according to Car and Driver. They add that the 2008 Mazda Mazda6 Sport VE adds standard "leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, [and] an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat." Car and Driver also writes that the 2008 Mazda Touring edition of the Mazda6 brings standard "heated front seats, leather-trimmed seats, [and] a seven-speaker AM/FM/satellite radio/CD Bose sound system with a 200-watt amplifier," while the top-end Mazda6 Grand Touring picks up standard "automatic climate control, a power sunroof...and electroluminescent gauges."

Optional features on the Mazda 2008 Mazda6 are generally limited to features that are available on the higher trim levels. Edmunds lists some of the highlights among the optional features as "a sunroof on the Sport Value Edition and Touring, and a navigation system on the Grand Touring." The optional navigation system on the Grand Touring version of Mazda's 2008 Mazda6 is voice-activated, a cool feature working its way into more and more vehicles today. Kelley Blue Book adds that an "in-dash six-disc CD changer" and "auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass" can be yours for a little extra cash. Sirius Satellite Radio is also offered.

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May 3, 2015
2008 Mazda MAZDA6 4-Door Sedan Manual i Sport

Amazing in every way possible! too cute. always turn heads.

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Everything on this car is amazing. I especially love my hise system. The only problem I have ever had with my mazda6's is the low profile tires. I always have to put air in them. But definitely worth it since... + More »
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Styling 7.0
Performance 8.0
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