With SUVS of all stripes dominating the family “car” market these days, you might wonder why Mazda would go to the effort of revamping their midsize Mazda6 sedan. Indeed, some brands are actually eliminating sedans from their lineups. Well, that’s because the “6” is very significant vehicle to Mazda. It’s slick, sporty styling was an instant international hit. So, let’s find out if the 2018 mazda6 has anything new to add.
Mazda thinks they have a strategy to keep people buying sedans like the 2018 Mazda6, and it’s not all that different from the tactic they’ve taken with their recent crossovers. Keep all of the handling prowess and zoom-zoom spirit that the Mazda6 is known for; but smooth out the ride, add a splash of comfort, and take the interior to borderline luxury-car territory.
But that’s not exactly an easy task, considering this 6 is not actually all new; still riding on same chassis that arrived for 2014.
There is a new engine under the hood, or at least you can choose to add a turbo to the standard SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter I4. It boosts horsepower from 187 to 227, and torque from 187 to 310 lb-ft. Premium fuel is not required, but if you decide to go that route, the horsepower rating jumps to 250.
Getting the turbo requires at least Grand Touring trim, and comes exclusively with the 6-speed automatic transmission. A 6-speed manual is still available, but only in base Sport trim.
And that’s not even close to what we’re dealing with here. Probably the most significant part of the ‘18’s newness is a pair of added up-level trim options, Reserve and this Signature model.
Signing on the dotted line here means Deep Chestnut Nappa leather, Ultrasuede trim, and Japanese Sen wood accents. It’s a first-class upgrade to what was already a handsome and orderly driver-oriented cockpit.
The new trims also get a 7-inch TFT virtual gauge screen to replace the standard 3-pod arrangement.
Seating position remains low; but the seats themselves have been redesigned, now using higher density foam. And they can be ventilated as well as heated.
Also helping the long distance comfort cause is a revamped suspension. No simple retune here; all geometry has been revised, bracing has been reinforced, and the floor pan that it’s all bolted to is now thicker.
All of this, Mazda claims, without losing the nimble nature we all look for in a Mazda. In fact, another change is the steering rack is now rigidly mounted to the chassis, sharpening up both steering response and feel.
A quick trip through our cone course had us confirming that the 6 has lost nothing in the handling department. Remarkable balance, sharp turn-ins, and hydraulic-like feedback through the steering wheel; all indicates that this car is built to be driven spiritedly, and will reward those that do.
We could certainly feel the added turbo torque off the line, as well. It’s still not blindingly fast, but the 7.2-second trip to 60 is a full second quicker than we achieved back in 2014…as is the ¼-mile, at 15.4-seconds at 93 miles-per-hour. Automatic shifts are quick and clean, with mapping as well executed as the rest of the car.
Of course, you can’t have all of this newness wrapped in the same old packaging; so there are some changes to the exterior as well, though here not nearly as comprehensive.
Just an upgrade to the grille that has it falling in line with other recent vehicles from the brand, new wheels, LED headlights, and full LED turn signals.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; now, stay tuned for our results over the next year, as this Mazda6 will be sticking around for a while as part of our long-term fleet. Its Energy Impact Score is an average one, consuming 12.7-barrels of petroleum annually, while emitting 5.5-tons of CO2.
The base Mazda6 Sport starts reasonably at $22,840. But, the new trim levels ratchet that up significantly; our top-level Signature series starts at $35,640. A pricy family car proposition for sure; yet certainly not outrageous compared to many smaller, less well equipped crossover utes, let alone premium-trimmed direct rivals like Camry and Accord.
So, while the 2018 Mazda6 is not a totally new car, it is a significant shift; a Mazda6 packed full of luxury; yet it remains a true treat to drive. Sure, Mazda would love to sell you a crossover; but they’re not giving up the midsize sedan anytime soon. And we’re sure glad about that!
Engine: 2.5 liter
Torque: 310 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.4 seconds @ 93 mph
EPA: 23 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 12.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.5 tons/yr