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2014 Mazda6 i Touring - Driven

When Mazda replaced the 626 — some considered it a simple rename — with the Mazda6 in 2003, its lineup started to regain its long-forgotten sporty feel. As time went on, even after its 2009 redesign, the Mazda6 became a little stagnant and buyers started looking elsewhere for their sports sedans .

Well, Mazda is currently in full redesign mode with its all-new Kodo design language in an attempt to regain some buyer interest. The first of its sedans to get the Kodo treatment was the 2014 Mazda6 , and boy did it completely change the outlook for Mazda’s flagship sedan.

We all know that there is no better way to get to know a car better than by taking out for a spin yourself. And it’s even better if you get the car for an extended period of time. Well, that’s just what I did, as Mazda dropped off a shiny, new Mazda6 i Touring and gave me a week to get to know it a little better.

In all honesty, I was pretty skeptical at first, but I am now a believer that Mazda is back and better than ever. Not to say there were zero flaws, but I found many more pros than cons.

Click past the jump to read our full Driven review of the 2014 Mazda6 i Touring.

Exterior

Mazda6 i Touring - Driven
Mazda6 i Touring - Driven
Mazda6 i Touring - Driven

On the outside, I really don’t know what else I can say about the Mazda6 other than "wow!" When Mazda first dropped it off, I could hardly believe that this was a $24,000 vehicle. The fit and finish was flawless at first look — I’ll address a few issues that popped up later in the review — and the body lines were simply stunning.

Seeing the Mazda6 in images on a computer certainly does not give it the credit that it is due. The profile view is far and away my favorite, as the nose seems to almost leap out in front of the grille and give this sleek midsize sedan a really sporty look. Also impressive is the slopped roofline and the almost has a coupe-like rake to the rear window. Add in that swooping front fender line, and the front lip that sticks out just a bit, and you have a model that really out-looks its price point.

Around back, the dual-exhaust system is a nice touch, but I would have liked to see the tips integrated into the bumper insert for a cleaner look. The trunk’s slight arch, the taillights angular appearance and the well-proportioned chrome appliqué on the trunk lid all made up for the non-integrated exhaust tips.

Mazda6 i Touring - Driven

Heading back up to the front end, we have to address one minor issue. There is a chrome grille surround that looks really good at first glance, but in the right sunlight, you’ll notice something weird on the lower, center part of this surround. This is where I found an unsightly seam that makes the surround seem like it was an afterthought when Mazda installed it. This could easy be one complete piece without a seam, and it would give the front end a 100-percent clean look. You can see the seam in the above image. Maybe I am splitting atoms here, but it was the one eyesore that I found that Mazda could have easily avoided.

Standard Exterior Features - 2014 Mazda6 i Touring

  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • P225/45R19 all-season tires
  • Variable intermittent wipers
  • Power side mirrors w/ turn lamps
  • Dual exhaust w/ bright outlets

Optional Equipment (Test Model)

  • Clear film rear paint protection $75

Interior

Mazda6 i Touring - Driven
Mazda6 i Touring - Driven
Mazda6 i Touring - Driven

When I first stepped into the Mazda6, I was pretty impressed with what I saw. The cabin was clean, refined and had touches of luxury throughout. I remained skeptical, thinking that I was bound to come across something that I didn’t like over the next week.

Well, a week came and went, and the only issue I had was that the 5.8-inch audio system’s navigation feature was not active, though there was a "Navigation" button on the radio.

The seats are wrapped up in leatherette — not real leather — but they felt surprisingly real. Sure, the wrapping was not as close to real leather as Mercedes Mercedes ’ or BMW BMW ’s leatherette, but it was not too bad for the price. The front sport seats hugged my body nicely, and the six-way power adjustment on the driver’s seat was a welcome addition for my height-challenged frame.

There was soft-touch material all over the place, and the steering wheel and gear shifter were both leather-wrapped. There was a little scratchy plastic here and there, but Mazda really kept it to a minimum, so hats off to them.

Mazda6 i Touring - Driven

The rear seats were surprisingly roomy, and could easily seat three adults rather comfortably. My big issue with the rear seats was the positioning of the LATCH system hooks for my son’s car seat. They were buried deep between the seat back and seat cushion, and I was a little worried that I may tear the seat attempting to connect the car seat. Fortunately, I did not...

Mazda6 i Touring - Driven

The trunk was simply amazing on the 2014 Mazda6, as my wife and I slid a full-size house broom into it and it fit without folding the seats. We even packed a few rather large boxes in there and they fit with room to spare for some groceries.

In terms of technology, the Mazda6 tester that I had was well equipped. As I mentioned earlier, this model featured a 5.8-inch touchscreen audio system with six speakers that had Bluetooth connectivity and audio playback, a CD player, Pandora, and HD Radio. The sound quality was phenomenal, the screen was clear and the touchscreen worked flawlessly. The rearview camera was another welcome addition that really made backing out of spaces a good bit easier — in fact, I am still trying to adjust to backing out without it. One big flaw in the tech features was the voice-recognition system that really struggled to recognize my commands until the last few days I had it.

Overall, the Mazda6’s interior felt much higher class than its $24,000 price tag may lead you to believe. I was very satisfied with what it delivered by the end of the week-long test drive.

Interior Specifications (As Tested)

Headroom (Front/Rear)38.4 In. / 37.1 In.
Shoulder Room (Front/Rear)57.1 In. / 55.5 In.
Hip Room (Front/Rear)56.1 In. / 56.1 In.
Legroom (Front/Rear)42.2 In. / 38.7 In.
Cargo Volume14.8 Cubic Feet

Standard Interior Features (As Tested)

  • Leatherette-trimmed sport seats
  • Six-way power driver’s seat
  • Tilt & telescoping wheel
  • 5.8-inch color touchscreen
  • Commander switch
  • Rearview camera
  • AM/FM/CD/MP3/Aux six-speaker audio
  • USB audio input & HD Radio
  • Bluetooth hands free/audio
  • Steering wheel-mounted controls
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Cruise control

Optional Equipment (As Tested)

  • Cargo Mat $75
  • Compass/Auto-dim mirror $195
  • Door-sill trim plates $125

Drivetrain

Mazda6 i Touring - Driven

Under its hood, my Mazda6 i Touring tester came standard with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder Skyactiv-G engine with 184 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 185 pound-feet of torque at 3,250 rpm. I got to row my own gears by way of the Mazda6’s standard Skyactiv-MT six-speed manual gearbox.

The engine was plenty powerful, and the relatively low revs required to hit the 2.5-liter’s peak torque made accelerating a breeze. Additionally, that sixth cog in the gearbox kept revs under 3,000 rpm at 60 mph, making highway cruises quiet and enjoyable. The EPA rated this drivetrain setup at 25 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined, and I was able to average about 26 mpg in nearly all city driving.

Mazda didn’t release official performance numbers for the Mazda6, but some reviewers claim a 0-to-60 mph time in the mid seven-second range. I was able to get the sedan up to 60 mph in about 8.2 seconds through my instruments in real-world driving, but I could have easily gotten it into the mid-sevens on a track.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine TypeSKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT
Horsepower184 Horsepower @ 5,700 RPM
Torque185 Pound-Feet @ 3,250 RPM
Compression Ratio13.0 : 1
Emission control type (Fed/Cal)Tier2 Bin5 /ULEV
EPA-Estimated Fuel Economy (As Tested)25 MPG City / 37 MPG Highway
Observed Real-World Fuel Economy))26 MPG Combined

Pricing

Mazda6 i Touring - Driven

The Mazda6 bases out at $20,990 and the Mazda6 i Touring starts off at $23,445. The model I got my hands on had a few extra goodies — paint protection, a cargo mat, mirror-mounted compass, an auto-dimming mirror and door-sill trim plates — which brought its total price to $23,915 before the delivery fee.

Driving Impressions

Mazda6 i Touring - Driven

Driving the 2014 Mazda6 was an absolute pleasure. The cabin was so well insulated that it was whisper quiet, even with the four-banger working hard up front. The suspension was firm enough to handle twisties with ease for a midsize sedan, but it was also soft enough to take on most road defects without bouncing me around too much. I was pleasantly surprised to have a look at the tires an notice that Mazda wrapped W-Rated Dunlop tires around its 19-inch alloys, giving is nice grip through the turns.

The engine was plenty powerful for this size car, as it pulled this midsize sedan around town and on the highway with confidence. I managed to pulled off an 8.2-second run to 60 mph in a real-world sprint — not on a track — and likely could have gotten into the mid seven-second range on a track with the tires properly warmed up for optimal traction and no police around to pull me over.

The one complaint I can offer up on the performance side is the Skyactiv-MT transmission. It was comfortable and smooth when I was just cruising along and slowly rowing through the gears, but once I really jumped on it and started shifting more aggressively, it tended to get a little rubbery and did not engage positively in each gear. Additionally, dumping the clutch between shifts resulted in a weird fuel cut, even with the traction control turned off, which makes it feel slower than it really is.

The brakes felt very firm and responsive, but they were a little grab-happy on cooler mornings — this is something that you will get used to over time.

Overall, the Mazda6 knocked my socks off, and it is definitely a worthy competitor in its class.

Conclusion

Mazda6 i Touring - Driven

After a week behind the wheel of the 2014 Mazda6 i Touring, I came away with a new outlook on Mazda’s future. It is no secret that the brand has struggled to find an identity and profits in the last decade, but this awesome mixture of sport and comfort seems like the perfect identity for the brand. I was sad to see the Mazda6 go, but like all of these test drives, it had to come to an end one day.

Next on the list is the 2013 - 2014 Acura TL , so stay tuned.

LOVE IT
  • That Kodo design is downright sexy
  • Well-equipped interior that is also clean and refined
  • Very quiet for a sub-$30k car
  • Plenty of power from the 2.5-liter four-pot
  • Big trunk and big back seat
LEAVE IT
  • No performance-oriented model yet
  • Odd seam on the brightwork around the grille
  • The manual gearbox is a little sloppy when shifting wuickly


What is your take?

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