2021 Mazda MAZDA6

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2021
The Car Connection
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2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
November 24, 2020

Buying tip

The well-equipped Touring model is the best bargain, but if you’re saving money by shopping Mazda instead of a luxury brand, the Signature series has great power and great leather.

features & specs

Carbon Edition Automatic
Grand Touring Automatic
Grand Touring Reserve Automatic
MPG
23 city / 31 hwy
MPG
23 city / 31 hwy
MPG
23 city / 31 hwy
MSRP
$32,800
MSRP
$30,025
MSRP
$32,525

The 2021 Mazda 6 drives the point home: not every family needs a crossover SUV.

What kind of car is the 2021 Mazda 6? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Mazda 6 four-door sedan slots in as the Japanese automaker’s mass-market sedan. It’s a rival for the Camry, the Accord, the Sonata, and other cars that only need one name to stand out on the sales charts.

Is the 2021 Mazda 6 a good car?

Review continues below

It’s wonderful in some ways, but pulls up shy in back-seat space and warranty coverage. We give it a TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Mazda 6?

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility now comes with every model, and wireless CarPlay joins in on the expensive versions. A new Carbon edition with dark wheels and special paint is new, too.

No matter which trim you choose—Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, or Signature—the 2021 Mazda 6 is among the most handsome sedans on the road. The wide but slim grille and headlights, the gently curved body, and the tall rear end cut a sharp and sleek profile, while the cockpit’s composed from simple but elegant shapes and dressed in fine materials, especially on the Signature edition.

Mazda fits a 187-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4 in base 6 sedans, and teams it with a 6-speed automatic to deliver tepid acceleration, with more noise than we’re used to from its refined cars. Strap on a turbo and the 227-hp 6 lives up to its sporty promise better, with strong power in most situations that suits the nimble handling and firm but absorbent ride tuned into its chassis. The 6 lacks all-wheel drive, but doesn’t lack for it.

Interior comfort gets a high pass for the front passengers, but the 6 has slimmer head space for rear-seat passengers, and a trunk that’s slightly smaller than most in its class. 

Crash-test scores have been nearly perfect, and the 6 comes with automatic emergency braking as well as an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment that’s also saddled with a futzy control knob that we mostly ignore in favor of taps and steering-wheel commands.

How much does the 2021 Mazda 6 cost?

The $25,270 6 Sport four-door comes with keyless start, 17-inch wheels, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty. We’d choose the $27,870 Mazda 6 Touring for its power driver’s seat and power sunroof—knowing that the $36,695 Mazda 6 Signature has real luxury-car ambience, not to mention nappa leather and wireless Apple CarPlay. 

Where is the Mazda 6 made?

In Japan.

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2021 Mazda MAZDA6

Styling

Family sedans aren’t born with dad bods—the Mazda 6 is proof.

Is the Mazda 6 a good-looking car?

It’s beautiful, don’t you agree? We think it’s one of the best-looking family sedans—one of the best-looking mass-market cars—on the road. We give it two extra points for its body, one for its interior, for an 8 here.

It’s a memorable look, and not just for the fact that the 6 is supposed to be a bread-and-butter family sedan. Mazda drapes the 6 with few straight lines and lots of sensuous curves. Even the grille tapers and hangs just so, pinned in place by slim headlights. The body’s more toned than muscular, but it has strong character lines on its flanks and a high, tapered rear end that looks good from nearly every angle.

The interior blends handsomely understated shapes with fine materials and dresses it up with just the right amount of detail. In the fancy Signature model, the 6’s cabin could wear a luxury badge; it renders its expensive look better than some sedans that cost significantly more.

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6

2021 Mazda MAZDA6

Performance

The 6 doles out a composed ride and punchy power in turbo models.

Mazda fits 4-cylinder engines in every 6 sedan, but some adopt the miracle of turbocharging for swifter acceleration. Those that don’t are quick enough, but it’s really the sedan’s handling and ride that star in this role. We give it a 6 for performance, with an extra-point nod to the latter.

How fast is the Mazda 6?

The base engine isn’t very quick. It’s a 187-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4 with 186 pound-feet of torque sent to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic. In earlier drives we’ve found it lacking in the excitement that the 6’s shapely body promises, but it’s well suited to commuter tasks, with some excess engine noise when it’s wound out for highway passing. 

Mazda upgrades some 6 drivers to a 2.5-liter turbo-4 with 227 hp. It’s the brisk, pleasantly quick engine that the 6 silhouette promises. The significant bumps in power and torque make for cut-above acceleration, with the commensurate dip in fuel economy.

The power pairs well with the 6’s cut-above handling. With its acceptably firm ride and simulated torque-vectoring across its front-driven wheels, the 6 plucks a sport-sedan chord without plucking the same price strings. It’s responsive and composed in almost every driving environment, without turning brittle or lax when the road gets sloppy. It’s in the top tier of family sedans in this way, though others—notably the Kia K5—have upped their antes as well.

Is the Mazda 6 4WD?

The 6 is front-wheel drive only.

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6

2021 Mazda MAZDA6

Comfort & Quality

The comely shape leaves the 6 a little less useful than some sedans.

We’re smitten by the shape, but the Mazda 6 has a smaller back seat and trunk than its main rivals. We give it a 6 for comfort and utility, with a point above average for its front-seat comfort.

By the numbers, the 2021 6 clocks in at 191.5 inches long overall, with a 111.4-inch wheelbase. On the subjective side of things, the 6 has comfortable front seats that pass the six-hour road-trip test, though there’s somewhat less head and leg room than you’ll find in a Honda Accord. Top versions improve on the base cloth upholstery with synthetic or real leather—nappa leather in the most expensive Signature model.

The 6 has a slimmer back seat with 38.7 inches of leg room. That’s good, but head room dips under the low roofline, though two average-size adults still can fit easily. A third in back should be related to the others, and therefore ineligible to complain.

The 6’s trunk has 14.7 cubic feet of trunk space, slightly smaller than other big four-doors—and even some compact sedans. The rear seats do fold down, but for big cargo space, you’ll want a CX-5.

Even in the base Sport, the Mazda 6 wears a nicer cut of material and trim than many mid-size sedans. At the Signature level, it’s doing a convincing impression of a luxury car with wood trim, soft nappa leather, and sueded door panels.

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2021 Mazda MAZDA6

Safety

Excellent crash-test performance nets the 6 a near-perfect rating.

How safe is the Mazda 6?

Very safe, according to the NHTSA and the IIHS. The feds give the sedan a five-star overall rating, with a four-star rating for front-passenger and rollover protection. The IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick+.

We give it 9, since the mid-size Mazda also comes with a swell suite of active safety gear including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors. The most expensive versions also have a head-up display and a surround-view camera system.

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2021 Mazda MAZDA6

Features

Mazda suits up the base 6 with good features and strong value.

Mazda outfits the base $25,270 6 Sport sedan with standard features that include automatic emergency braking, keyless start, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and 17-inch wheels. That’s enough to score a 7 here, with extra points for its strong value and its on-point standard features.

All Mazdas have an average warranty of 3 years/36,000 miles. 

All models also have one of the few remaining touchscreens in the Mazda lineup, and it helps overcome the fiddly knob-driven interface that’s becoming the brand standard. We routinely use those smartphone interfaces and steering-wheel controls to override its hapless haptics.

Which Mazda 6 should I buy?

We like the $27,870 Mazda 6 Touring, which gets heated front seats, a sunroof, synthetic leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, and 19-inch wheels.

From there, Mazda sells Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and new Carbon Edition sedans with paddle shifters, a head-up display, leather upholstery, and power front seats with heating and cooling.

How much is a fully loaded Mazda 6?

At the top of the lineup, the $36,695 Mazda 6 Signature offers luxury touches like wood trim, nappa leather, wireless Apple CarPlay, navigation, and a surround-view camera system. 

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5

2021 Mazda MAZDA6

Fuel Economy

The EPA rates the Mazda 6 as high as 29 mpg combined.

Is the Mazda 6 good on gas?

It’s very good on gas compared to some crossovers of similar size. The EPA gives the base Sport and the Touring versions ratings of 26 mpg city, 35 highway, 29 combined. That’s good for a score of 5 here—and in the same ballpark as something like the base Ford Edge.

With the turbo-4 on upper-end models, gas mileage dips to 23/31/26 mpg.

Review continues below
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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$24,325
MSRP based on Sport Automatic
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6.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 9
Features 7
Fuel Economy 5
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2021 Mazda MAZDA6 Pricing Insights

  • 2021 Mazda6 arriving now; 2020s still in stock
  • $1,500 rebate on 2020s for all buyers
  • Lease a 2020 from $209 for 36 months
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