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Mazda's midsize sedan achieves the economy and practicality that has made this segment popular, but it faces close competition from Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and a host of other automakers.
One of the few ways the Mazda6 distinguishes itself is in external styling, which uses Mazda's new flow design language. The ribbed grille presents an organic outline leading out to the prominent fenders.
The Mazda6 can be had in seven trim levels, five of which use this 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The two other trims get a 3.7-liter V-6.
Slightly less mundane than competitive sedans, the Mazda6 has a nicely curved roofline and protruding front fenders.
The Mazda6 handles decently, one of the better cars for cornering in its class. But that is not to say it is anything like a sports car.
The cabin materials look and feel good, but that is average for this vehicle segment, where every automaker has ramped up interior quality to compete with Honda.
It has steering-wheel buttons for audio, phone, and cruise control that are convenient to use.
With engine speeds running about 3,000rpm at 75 mph, the Mazda6 could use a six-speed transmission to wring out slightly better fuel economy. But we still achieved more than 25 mpg.
The five-speed automatic transmission has a manual mode and, like a sports car, you push up to downshift, and pull back to upshift.
Navigation is only available on V-6 Mazda6 models. All others trims are stuck with this stereo interface.
Bluetooth streaming is useful in some ways, but the interface with the car is very limited.
The Bluetooth hands-free phone system is basic in the Mazda6, allowing calls through a voice command system, but it lacks any means to transfer contacts from phone to car.