- Sporty, classy styling
- Responsive, agile handling
- Strong acceleration (V-6)
- Steering and suspension a little too soft?
- No Bluetooth on affordable models
- Bleached-out electroluminescent gauges
The 2011 Mazda Mazda6 is a great pick for practically-minded family-car shoppers who also value driving enjoyment.
The Mazda6 manages to elude most family shopping lists, and we think that's a shame as it is in some respects the most attractive, best-packaged, and friskiest-driving mid-size sedan on the market. The Michigan-made Mazda6 manages to stand out from the crowd, and it's as appealing inside as it is on the outside.
The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, that Mazda6 'I' (including base SV, Sport, and Touring) models get is not only the more economical choice but actually feels quite peppy with either the six-speed manual or five-speed automatic in this rather light-weight (for its size) front-driver. But once you drive the V-6 there might not be any going back; with 272 horsepower from 3.7 liters, it churns out the torque and makes the Mazda6 feel like a muscle car from a standing start. Gas mileage isn't great, but it's a hoot to drive. Brakes have a pleasing, no-slack feel as well, and altogether, it delivers athletic handling and a surprisingly accommodating ride, but it's on the verge of being too soft for Mazda's zoom-zoom image. Steering also could be crisper and quicker and feels a little too isolated, especially on V-6 models.
The 2011 Mazda6 is a roomy mid-size sedan, and even though this model's racier look might promise a little more sportiness, it doesn't give up anything in terms of seat comfort, trunk space, or ride quality. The Mazda6 is about 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. Front seats also are better than those elsewhere in this class, with some measure of thigh and side support to hold you in place in corners.
The Mazda6 is also positioned, for value and pricing, right up against segment leaders like the Honda Accord, Nissan Maxima, and Hyundai Sonata. Like those models, the 6 covers a wide range in terms of pricing and equipment, with the base SV starting just under $20k and a fully loaded 's' Grand Touring costing more than $33k.
Other than the lack of Bluetooth, which we think should be offered at all trim levels, we like the level of equipment in the SV; it includes air conditioning, a tilt/telescopic stsering wheel, power windows and locks, rear-seat heated ducts, and a six-speaker audio system with aux input. At the top of the range, Grand Touring models gain items like leather upholstery, heated front seats, keyless illuminated entry, cruise control, a dual-zone climate control system, fog lamps, and a power moonroof.
New for 2011, Grand Touring models now get a 4.3-inch Multi-Information Display, including Bluetooth controls and a rearview camera, and Touring models also get a Bluetooth interface.