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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
2.5-liter engine performs admirably
Road & Track
V6 furnishes ample power both around town and on the highway
Steering is light and alive, yet it grooves in on straight-ahead
Car and Driver
In the 2010 Mazda6, Mazda offers the choice of a fuel-efficient but peppy four-cylinder or one of the most powerful V-6 engines in its segment. Altogether, it delivers athletic handling and a surprisingly accommodating ride.
Whether you choose the base 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or the 272-hp, 3.7-liter V-6, reviewers have good things to say. Car and Driver states Mazda offers "2.5 liters and 170 horsepower" and a more potent "60-degree, 3.7-liter V-6 of 272 horsepower." ConsumerGuide reports that "the 4-cylinder is peppy from a stop and adequate during highway passing maneuvers," and the only situation where they long for more power is "on long hill climbs." Motor Trend describes the 2.5-liter engine as "smooth and free-revving," calling it "impressive in its own right." The available V-6 on the Mazda6 Mazda offers an expected performance boost. The V-6 has enough power to easily "light up the front tires at half-throttle off the line," remarks Automobile Magazine.
Two transmission choices are offered on the 2009 Mazda Mazda6, at least with the four-cylinder engine. The four-cylinder gets a standard six-speed manual or five-speed automatic, while the V-6 only offers a six-speed automatic.
The automatic transmissions earn rave reviews, with Automobile Magazine extolling the "perfectly smooth, rev-matched downshifts and quick, well-timed upshifts." ConsumerGuide adds that "both automatics are smooth and responsive."
As for the manual gearbox on the four-cylinder model, Car and Driver reports that it’s "paired with smooth accelerator gain and a well-coordinated shifter," while AutoWeek reviewers "fancied the four-cylinder manual model" as well, claiming that "the manual transmission allowed [them] to get the most out of the chassis."
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 four-cylinder sedans in this class. Road & Track calls the four-cylinder numbers "very respectable," however. The bigger and more powerful V-6 gets decidedly worse fuel economy numbers, which the EPA pegs at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg on the highway, but Road & Track points out that "both the 4- and 6-cylinder engines run on lower-cost regular unleaded gasoline."
In keeping with Mazda’s "zoom-zoom" image, the 2010 Mazda Mazda6 delivers responsive handling and is very capable of navigating twisty roads, no matter which model you choose. Car and Driver says that the steering feel is "light and alive, yet it grooves in on straight-ahead when the path calls for it." ConsumerGuide reports that "steering is on center and reactive," while "close quarters maneuverability is aided by a relatively tight turning circle."
Between the two engine choices, Automobile Magazine declares that the four-cylinder is "without question" the better handling option, since "the lighter engine gives the four-pot 6 balance unlike any other large front-wheel-drive car." One of the most impressive features of the Mazda Mazda6 is that it achieves its performance without sacrificing ride quality, and ConsumerGuide says "the ride is absorbent over nearly every surface, particularly on four-cylinder models." Regarding brakes, "slack has been zeroed out of brake-pedal motion," notes Car and Driver.
With any of its powertrain combinations, 2010 Mazda Mazda6 is more of a driver’s car than most mid-size sedans, but its fuel economy is middle-of-the-road.