Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Bit Bigger: 2014 Mazda6 i Grand Touring

2014 Mazda6 i Grand Touring

I really like the latest crop of Mazda vehicles. Their subcompact Mazda2 is nimble, fun and frugal. The compact Mazda3 is quite good, especially in MAZADSPEED3 trim. Of course the MX-5 Miata is a blast to drive. Heck, even the Mazda5 with the manual transmission is entertaining, as is the well-executed CX-5 crossover. Then there’s the Mazda6. It seems like the last generation of this sedan got lost in the hyper-competitive mid-sized sedan mix. However, the 2014 Mazda6 is all new, and now that I've driven it, I can say without hesitation that it is up to par with the rest of the Mazda family in terms of driving enjoyment. I was given the opportunity to review this vehicle, and although not a small car, I thought I’d see how it stacked up against Mazda’s fun, smaller offerings.

2014 Mazda6 i Grand Touring is a great looking car.

Personally, I think the new Mazda6 is stunning, and no Mazda did not pay me anything to say that. I think it is sleek and sexy, and possibly one of the best looking sedans on the market. Yes, I’m gushing about it, but I think it’s truly a beautiful sedan. The front wheel arches have great lines, and those characteristics are carried all the way to the back of the vehicle. The front end is much more appealing to me than the recent “smile” motif that many Mazdas have. The stance and 19-inch wheels complete the deal. This is a great-looking car. And that Soul Red exterior paint is truly stunning in the light—great color.

2014 Mazda6 interior

The inside of our Mazda6 i Grand Touring is equally attractive. Clean, functional design, supportive leather seats, and above average visibility all add to a great place to spend some driving time. Accouterments include navigation, an impressive 11-speaker Bose sound system, push-button start, rearview camera, moonroof, heated seats, and paddle shifters. Mazda has also gone to a dial on the center console for easy operation of the car’s infotainment systems.

2014 Mazda6 trunk
Obviously, the Mazda6 is larger than a subcompact, and that was a good thing during our time with the car. We had friends come in from out of town, so it was great for hauling them around. My backseat-dwelling friends said it was roomy and comfortable back there and they’re also quite a bit taller than me. I did sit back there briefly and found it spacious. Oh, and the trunk—it’s freaking huge. It easily swallowed up three suitcases when I picked up and dropped off our friends at the airport.

This vehicle was equipped with the $900 Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC; essentially adaptive cruise control) and Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW) packages. FOW will produce an audible warning signal and display a warning light indicating that you need to apply the brakes to avoid a collision. This system works at speeds over 10 MPH. Luckily, I didn't get a chance to test this feature.

2014 Mazda6 SKYACTIV engine
The ’14 Mazda6 comes with the company’s SKYACTIV four-cylinder engine and making 184 hp and 185 ft/lbs of torque. Weighing in at 3,183 lbs, the car moves out briskly and doesn't feel like it’s hauling along too much heft. Our tester was equipped with the six-speed automatic, but the car can be equipped with a six-speed manual transmission (hooray, Mazda!). While the performance is respectable, the SKYACTIV engine also delivers admirable fuel economy, too. Rated at 26 city, 30 combined, and 38 city, I was able to easily hit 28 MPG, which is great since my commute is hilly and involves lots of stop-and-go traffic.

Par for the course, this Mazda has performance in its veins. Turn-in is quick; cornering is sharp and flat with well-weighted steering, and acceleration is above average. There’s even a nice exhaust note. If you’re looking for a driver’s sedan in the segment, this one should be on the list.

2014 Mazda6 i Grand Touring rear

This fully loaded Mazda6 i Ground Touring will set you back $31,490 including destination. That includes $300 extra for the beautiful Soul Red paint and the aforementioned $900 for the MRCC and FOW. I think that is a good price for a fully loaded sedan like this. It’s a real looker, a solid performer, and a sensible fuel drinker. To me, this is a winning combination, and I think new Mazda6 sales will likely show that.

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