Crossovers are all we seem to talk about lately. Buyers want them, which explains why crossovers are almost always now the centerpiece of every automaker’s press conference on the auto show circuit. While some brands have ditched the segment, aka Ford, there are still some great midsize options out there. Here’s a great one – the Mazda6. The Mazda6 has always stood out in the crowded midsize segment as a sportier option for those that actually like driving and now Mazda has made the 2018 Mazda6 even better.
For the 2018 model year Mazda gave the Mazda6 a facelift, which includes a new sculpted face and a more luxurious interior. While the styling upgrades are nice, that isn’t the most significant upgrade here. Look under the hood and the 2018 Mazda6 is now available with the same 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder as the CX-9. The Mazda6 has always been applauded for its great driving dynamics, but the current generation’s naturally-aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder with 187 horsepower doesn’t pack the same punch that some of its rivals bring to the table.
The 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder generates 250 horsepower and a nice 310 lb-ft. of torque. The turbocharged four-cylinder is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. On paper the four-cylinder’s horsepower rating is lower than you’ll get in the Toyota Camry or Ford Fusion Sport, but its torque rating is where it’s at. It’s worth noting that the horsepower rating drops to 227-hp if you put in regular 87 octane vs. 93 octane fuel.
Pull off quick from a stop and the front wheels respond with an exciting chirp. It would be great if the tires had a bit more bite to alleviate some of the wheel spin you’ll get if you mash the pedal hard to the floor from a stop. With its good amount of low end torque, the turbocharged engine makes the Mazda6 more engaging to drive than the naturally-aspirated engine. There’s a sport mode, but you don’t really need it this time. It’s too bad that Mazda has ditched the “Zoom Zoom” tagline, since it definitely applies here.
The 2.5 turbocharged engine is rated at 23/31 mpg, which does take a small fuel economy hit compared to the naturally-aspirated engine that is rated at 26/35 mpg. Compared to the Honda Accord, the Mazda6 is close to the Accord, since the Accord 2.0T with the 10-speed automatic is rated at 23/34 mpg or 22/32 mpg, depending on trim level.
What makes the Mazda6 so great to drive is that it takes what you’d expect from a standard midsize sedan and amps it up a bit to make the driving experience more enjoyable. It’s suspension finds the perfect balance between being too soft and too firm. Body roll is kept to a minimum, but the ride is also comfortable. It’s steering isn’t too light with a good amount of feedback. Dare we say it, with the turbocharged engine, the 2018 Mazda6 feels and drives more like a sports sedan, which is something we normally just expect from the Accord in this class.
Inside the upgraded interior feels and looks more luxurious, while the minimalistic theme has been retained. The good news for Apple fans is that the Mazda6 is now available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The system is a bit interesting, since when you’re at a stop, you can touch the screen to select what you’re looking for, but once you start moving down the road, the screen locks and you have to use the dial near the gear selector.
The 2018 Mazda6’s interior offers plenty of legroom and hip room so it can easily fit five passengers, but there is a bit less headroom in the rear than we’d expect. To keep everyone safe, the 2018 Mazda6 is available with a long list of driver assistance technologies, like a 360 degree view monitor, blind spot warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.
The Mazda6 is now one of the oldest models in the midsize sedan segment, but the refresh does give the 2018 Mazda6 a more modern, yet classy look. With the addition of the new turbocharged engine and updated interior technology, the 2018 Mazda6 is the perfect alternative to the Honda Accord.
Pricing for the 2018 Mazda6 starts at $23,000 and it’s offered in five trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring and Reserve. The Sport and Touring trim levels are powered by the naturally-aspirated four-cylinder, while the Touring, Grand Touring and Reserve trim levels get the turbocharged engine.