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Review update: The 2020 Mazda 6 Signature straddles the divide between mainstream and premium

June 22, 2020

Could a mainstream family sedan look and feel like a premium vehicle without a big shiny screen protruding from the dashboard, fancy self-parking technology, and supercar-like LED daytime running lights?

Despite what the 2020 Hyundai Sonata might have everyone believe, the 2020 Mazda 6 Signature proved the answer is yes during a week of hauling the kids, road tripping to northern Minnesota, and cruising around back-country roads.

With a TCC Rating of 6.7 out of 10 the 2020 Mazda 6 mid-size sedan features a gorgeous design, premium interior,  and head-up display, but its turbocharged powertrain isn’t efficient, its infotainment system is lacking, and competitors are quieter inside.

Hit: That’s pretty

The Mazda 6 oozed with premium design details such as a delicate chrome surround on the lower part of the intricate mesh grille. The front fender arches looked as if they were hand-carved by a Japanese sculptor while softer rear haunches trail into the rounded rear end. The dual exhaust peeked out from each corner of the bumper with perfectly-sized chrome tips.

2020 Mazda 6

2020 Mazda 6

Miss: Can I just touch it?

The infotainment system pulled a fast one on me. While at a stop in park it can be controlled via the rotary knob in the center console or a few hard buttons or via the 8.0-inch touchscreen, but once in gear the touchscreen can no longer be used. Just unlock the touchscreen for use at all times, Mazda.

Using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto via the rotary controller is infuriating and barely on the right side of being the worst infotainment system on the market. It takes multiple steps to accomplish simple tasks such as changing a radio station. 

2020 Mazda 6

2020 Mazda 6

Hit: Punching above its price class

The 2020 Mazda 6 Signature as tested was $36,915. Aside from a few plastic pieces, its interior could convincingly be placed inside a premium or luxury sedan thanks to small details such as the textured finish on the climate control knobs. The seats were covered in nappa leather, there was real wood trim on the doors and dashboard, the door handles felt substantial, and the fake suede on the dashboard and doors looked and felt great.

2020 Mazda 6

2020 Mazda 6

Miss: It’s not efficient

My Mazda 6 was powered by a 2.5-liter turbo-4- with 250 horsepower (on premium fuel) and 310 pound-feet of torque. Power went to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. The EPA said it can achieve 23 mpg city, 31 highway, and 26 combined. Maybe it can, but I sure as heck never saw those kinds of numbers. Over the course of 419 miles of highway driving the turbo-4 averaged 28.8 mpg. A V-6-powered 2020 Toyota Camry with 300 horsepower is rated at 33 mpg highway with two more cylinders than the Mazda 6 and a 2020 Honda Accord with a turbo-4 has an EPA-rated 34 mpg highway. The Mazda is down on gears and efficiency. Unlike the competitors, the Mazda 6 doesn’t offer a hybrid option.

2020 Mazda 6

2020 Mazda 6

Hit: Look up, it’s a head-up display

The Mazda 6 Signature featured a full-color head-up display, which is rare in the mainstream mid-size sedan segment. The image was crisp, easy-to-read, and best of all, it had integrated traffic sign recognition. As the 6 rolled up to a stop sign a little red and white stop sign would appear in front of my eyes on the windshield. It was slick.

2020 Mazda 6

2020 Mazda 6

Miss: It could be quieter

The Mazda 6 isn’t necessarily loud, but on the highway the competition is a bit quieter inside the cabin. The interior noise doesn’t match up with the premium aesthetic of the Mazda 6 and reminds occupants this is still a mainstream sedan and not a luxury car.

2020 Mazda 6

2020 Mazda 6

Bonus: Look at that paint!

The Mazda 6 tested was painted Soul Red Crystal with metallic flake. When the sun hit it just the right way, the paint and finish looked like they were wet. The curve of the fenders in the sunlight defined perfection, and the finish was exceptional for a mainstream vehicle.

The Mazda 6 doesn’t rely on fancy tech, glitzy design, or party tricks to stand out. It draws attention with its gorgeous design and terrific interior, which makes its mainstream price tag even more appealing.

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2020 Mazda 6 Signature
Base price: $25,020
Price as tested: $36,915
EPA fuel economy: 23/31/26 mpg
The hits: Gorgeous design, premium interior, great head-up display
The misses: Not efficient, clunky infotainment system, cabin noise on the highway

2020
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2020
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