2009 Mazda Mazda6 i Grand Touring review: 2009 Mazda Mazda6 i Grand Touring

iPod and iPhone users are out of luck, we found no iPod or USB integration available on the Mazda6 and the devices don't support audio streaming. There is, however, a 1/8-inch aux-input tucked into the center console.

While the Mazda6 i Grand Touring's leather seats may not grip as well as the Mazda RX-8 R3's Recaros, they are infinitely more comfortable. The seats have heated surfaces and the memory positions. When used with Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry & Start System, the seats can be programmed to automatically adjust to configuration stored on the key fob.

The list of standard safety features for the Mazda6 Grand Touring is impressive, including rain sensing windshield wipers, automatic xenon headlamps, and blind spot monitoring. That last system illuminates a light when a vehicle is in your blind spot and sounds a chime if you activate your turn signal. Unfortunately, the system only works when driving faster than 20mph, rendering it useless in stop and go traffic.

Missing from the Mazda6's available options is a backup camera option or at least some sort of proximity detection, which would come in handy when parallel parking the high-rumped sedan.

Oddly, the Mazda6, when equipped with the four-cylinder engine, only comes in four colors: black, grey, silver, and red. The V-6 Mazda6 s, on the other hand, comes in nine colors, so if you want a blue or white vehicle, you're going to have to go with the bigger engine. That just doesn't make sense to us.

Under the hood
Apparently, the Mazda6 also been working out, featuring a larger stronger engine than the outgoing model. The 2.5-liter inline-four cylinder engine can be best described as peppy. Its 170 horsepower would be a lot of power in a vehicle the size of a Civic, but in the big and heavy Mazda6, it's merely adequate.

The sedan accelerates off the line with a smooth swell of power and little drama. Quickly dropping the clutch on the one-two shift elicits a chirp from the front tires, but don't be fooled. That's not power you're hearing, only the sedan's great weight shifting to the rear wheels. There's enough power to get you moving at a reasonable clip, but not enough to snap necks.

Bringing the best out of the power that the Mazda6 does posses is the fantastic six-speed speed manual transmission. While we have our qualms with the light clutch pedal and its vague engagement point, the shifter itself is a fantastic unit, with butter-smooth shifts that seem to just fall into place.

If you want to have any fun with the Mazda6, you're going to want the six-speed manual.

Coupled with the manual gearbox, the Mazda6 i manages a reasonable 20 mpg city and 29 mpg on the highway. Drivers wanting a bit more power can upgrade to the Mazda6 s--with its 3.7-liter, 272 horsepower V-6 engine--but will have to make due with a single option six-speed automatic transmission and a mediocre 17 city and 25 highway mpg.

The handling is more grand-touring grocery getter than road-holding sports sedan; however, if you really want a four-door sports car from Mazda, you'd probably be looking at the RX-8 anyway. On the sweeping turns of the highway and within the low speed limits of the city, the Mazda6 remains reasonably flat, but still compliant. Potholes and expansion joints are soaked up with minimum drama, while larger bumps are glided over with ease.

In sum
The list of standard features on the Mazda Mazda6 i Grand Touring is impressive, including Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, blind spot monitoring, and keyless entry and start. The Mazda6 starts to look even more impressive when you consider that even fully loaded with navigation, premium audio, and a sunroof, it comes in at an MSRP of $29,440.

At this price point, you're getting a vehicle that's better equipped than a similarly priced Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, and competitive with the Nissan Altima. We can't help but consider that the Mazda6 is a much better looking vehicle than the competition, but that's subjective.

Buyers wanting to save a bit of money can drop down to the spartan Mazda6 i SV--which loses most of the standard features to lower the price to a $19,220 entry point--and speed demons can step up to the fully-optioned Mazda6 s Grand Touring's V-6 for $32,995, but we think the Mazda6 as tested hits the sweet spot.

What you'll pay

    Pricing is currently unavailable.

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