- Responsive, agile handling
- Sporty, classy styling
- Strong acceleration (V-6)
- Lack of contrast on uplevel instruments
- No rear-seatback release in trunk
- Bluetooth not offered on more affordable models
The 2010 Mazda Mazda6 is the choice for driving enthusiasts who are also compelled to make a practical, family-friendly selection.
The Mazda6 was completely redesigned last year, becoming significantly larger and more refined, with a more powerful V-6 option. This new Mazda6 was designed expressly for the North American market, and it continues for 2010 unchanged.
Even though the 2010 Mazda Mazda6 is now about as large as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, it appears leaner and more purposeful. It's attractive from any angle, but the sculpted front fenders and broad wheel arches give it an especially aggressive look from the front. There's a clear family resemblance to the high-performance Mazda RX-8 and the Mazda3, though the 3's front-end styling is more controversial. Inside, the Mazda6 has flowing lines and a sporty feel throughout, with hooded instruments and a smaller-size three-spoke steering wheel. White-on-black instrumentation is standard on the Mazda6 Sport, while red-on-black gauge faces are used on Touring and Grand Touring editions.
The 2010 Mazda6 is offered in "i" and "s" variations. Models with an "i" (base SV, Sport, and Touring) get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower. It's the most economical choice and actually feels quite peppy with either the six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission—if you haven't driven the V-6. With 272 horsepower, Mazda doesn't mess around this time, bringing a big 3.7-liter V-6 as the top-of-the-line Mazda6 engine. It churns out the torque and makes the Mazda6 feel like a muscle car from a standing start. Gas mileage isn't great, at 17 mpg city, 25 highway, but it uses regular, not premium, and it's a hoot to drive. Ratings are much better with the four-cylinder, up to 21/30 mpg, but that's not as good as most other equivalent sedans in this class.
The Mazda6 is, for all practical purposes, as large as a Toyota Camry inside, with a backseat that now has plenty of space for adults and a trunk that’s actually the largest in its class at 16.6 cubic feet. The rear seatbacks can also be folded forward to dramatically increase cargo space; however, there are no releases within easy reach of the trunk—you’ll need to climb around.
Materials in the 2010 Mazda6 echo those used on other newer Mazda models like the fashionable Mazda3 and the more luxurious CX-9 utility vehicle—that’s to say, very tasteful and stylish, with a look and feel that’s not opulent, but sporty and upscale. The standard cloth upholstery feels sturdy yet comfortable, while the available leather will help satisfy luxury cravings to a degree. About the only complaint involves the electroluminescent gauges included on uplevel models; on brighter days they prove hard to read.
The safety assessment of the 2010 Mazda Mazda6 is mostly positive. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Mazda6 has "good" frontal impact protection, yet this mid-size sedan scores a low "marginal" in the seat-based rear-impact test—indicating a higher-than-normal chance of whiplash or neck injuries. Yet the Mazda6 is awarded top five-star scores across the board from the federal government. Front side airbags, side-curtain bags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and dynamic stability control are all standard, as they are among most mid-size sedans. Mazda's blind-spot monitoring system is available too.
Mazda positions the Mazda6 to take on all the best-selling mid-size sedans, such as the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima; like those models, the 6 covers a wide range in terms of pricing and equipment. A base SV stickers for less than $20,000, while a loaded "s" Grand Touring rings in at more than $33,000. All the requisite options are available: push-button start, an audio system with satellite radio and a built-in hard drive, a navigation system, rain-sensing wipers, and a Bluetooth interface. But if you want those features, it can get pricey; the nav system is only available on top Grand Touring models, and Bluetooth is only for those who splurge on the Touring Plus or Grand Touring.