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- New turbo power
- Chassis updates are promising
- Still offers a manual transmission
- Upscale look inside and out
- No stick with the turbo
- Styling beginning to date, at least a little
- Where's the CarPlay?
A new turbo-4 engine option breathes life into the Mazda 6.
A powerful engine option could finally make the 2018 Mazda 6 live up to its sports sedan billing.
For 2018, the Mazda 6's headliner is a new 2.5-liter turbo-4 engine option. Rated at 250 horsepower (227 hp on regular unleaded) and 310 pound-feet of torque, the engine should motivate the lithe four-door with far more authority than the standard naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-4.
The turbo-4 has been plucked from the larger CX-9 three-row crossover, where it provides adequate but hardly breathtaking performance. But the turbocharged 6 should shave upward of 500 pounds off of the CX-9's roughly 4,200 pound curb weight.
Last year's base 2.5-liter was rated at 184 hp and 185 lb-ft, but Mazda has not said if those figures will carry over into 2018. The base engine in 2017 6 sedans can feel gruff, but it delivers acceptable performance and was rated as high as 30 mpg combined.
The turbo-4 is only available with a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the base engine can be had with either that transmission or a 6-speed manual. Both engines deliver power to the front wheels.
The Japanese automaker has promised numerous suspension and chassis upgrades to go with the new engine. A revised steering rack mounted directly to the chassis is designed to deliver better feel and response, while beefed up sheet metal throughout is intended to quell noise, vibration, and harshness.
Given the lithe, sporty feel of last year's Mazda 6, we have high expectations for the 2018.
Carried-over look, but more features
The 2018 6's new engine isn't paired to heavily revised styling. Its look is clean and upmarket, albeit not heavily revised since this sedan debuted for the 2016 model year. An updated front fascia features a thicker ring of chrome around a shield-shaped grille that's dotted with a contemporary texture.
Inside, the 6's dashboard is a two-tier affair, with a dark upper half that can be wrapped in synthetic leather with contrasting French stitching. Only the infotainment screen, an 8.0-inch unit that sprouts from the center of the dash, looks like an afterthought. Revised climate controls sit low but are easy enough to read at a glance.
The 6 hints at its sporty positioning with a thick-rimmed steering wheel and big, clear gauges. In particular, the 6's tachometer takes up considerable real estate and has been revised for the new year with a longer sweep like you'd expect in a Porsche, not a moderately priced mid-size sedan.
Befitting its more upscale positioning, the 2018 Mazda 6 will be available with brown nappa leather upholstery paired to synthetic suede and furniture-inspired Sen wood. Lower-grade trim levels feature cloth and leatherette upholstery and all 6's feature new seat padding front and rear designed to improve all-day comfort.
Air conditioned front seats are newly available on higher-spec versions of the Mazda 6, as is a 7.0-inch TFT display integrated into the car's instrument cluster. The automaker has also upgraded its 8.0-inch infotainment display, although Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren't yet part of the package.
On the safety front, the 2018 Mazda 6 will be available with adaptive cruise control, an surround-view camera system, and a head-up display system. Automatic emergency braking is standard. Last year's 6 scored well for its safety and there's little reason for us to expect a big downgrade for the 2018 model year.
Mazda hasn't yet detailed trim levels or pricing for the 2018 Mazda 6, but we'll be sure to update this space when we know more.
Look for the new Mazda 6 to arrive in showrooms in spring 2018 in the U.S.