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- Stylish inside and out
- Sportiest car in its class
- Stellar fuel economy
- Smooth engine and excellent transmissions
- Rear seat headroom suffers
- 40 mpg i-eLoop system only available on top trim level
- No V-6 or turbo option
Unless you're just power-hungry, the 2017 Mazda 6 remains one of the best family-sedan choices you can make.
Buying a Mazda 6 puts you into something of an elite club: You're willing to shop beyond the Toyota Camrys, Honda Accords, and Ford Fusions of the world for the most under-appreciated mid-size sedan. A host of modest updates for 2017 follow a mild refresh last year that, so far, hasn't exactly turned things around for the ailing brand.
A trio of trim levels are on offer: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring, all of which are powered by the same 4-cylinder gas engine mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox.
Regardless of trim, the 6 remains an evocative, sleekly-styled sedan with some of the best road manners in the competitive mid-size sedan class—and a good antidote to the boredom that usually accompanies four-doors. We rate it a 7.7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Mazda 6 styling and performance
Although Mazda hasn't done much to update the 6's styling since the current model bowed back in 2013. With its muscular front fenders, arched, coupe-esque roofline, and finely detailed tail, the 6 is svelte from every angle. Last year, Mazda reshaped its grille to match the winged designed shared with the automaker's crossovers and flanked its front fascia with LED "signature" lighting on the range-topping Grand Touring.
On the inside, Mazda upped the 6's game with a tasteful resculping pays more attention to trim quality, and caps the dash with a bright new infotainment display screen. Available Nappa leather trim on the Grand Touring pushes this interior into almost luxury class.
On paper, the 6 has a meager lineup of engines: a 2.5-liter inline-4 is standard across the lineup, but this engine makes use o direct injection, variable valve control, and a high 13:1 compression ratio to reduce fuel consumption while still producing a class-competitive 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. The 6 is rated as high as 40 mpg on the highway when equipped with optional stop/start and a regenerative-energy system called i-eLoop. All 6s are front-wheel drive.
Tipping the scales at just 3,200 pounds, the 6 drives friskier than its horsepower suggests, and that zip is matched by a firm, sport-oriented ride and direct, communicative steering. Mazda's marketing message that the 6 shares lineage with the brilliant Miata roadster rings true after just minutes behind the wheel.
For 2017, Mazda has added its G-Vectoring Control system to the 6. Essentially computer-controlled trail braking, the system is designed to make the 6 more stable and poised during hard driving.
Mazda 6 comfort, safety, and features
Inside, the 6 delivers impressive interior space, with a roomy trunk and folding rear seats that provide more versatility than you might expect. Revised last year, the well-bolstered front seats are covered in cloth, leatherette, and a choice of standard or Nappa leather depending on trim level.
The 6 does well in both the IIHS and the NHTSA crash tests. Models equipped with the available automatic emergency braking, which is bundled with a few other safety goodies, rate as a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS.
The automaker's Mazda Connect infotainment system is newly standard on all trim levels of the 6. Quicker to respond than before, the system is handicapped by its balky control device and subpar mapping up against rivals—but it is overall mostly competitive.
The 6's inline-4 gasoline engine incorporates a suite of so-called SkyActiv technologies that include direct injection, variable valve control, and a very high 14:1 compression ratio. With the manual transmission, the 6 returns 25 mpg city, 37 highway, 29 combined, according to the EPA. With the automatic, it scores 26/38/31 mpg.