2017 Mazda6 i Grand Touring Review

A true driver's sedan gets some nice upgrades


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Excellent steering and chassis, great sheetmetal, huge amounts of room, beautiful cabin, more available options.
Negatives: Infotainment graphics could use more spice, strange flip-up head-up display screen, could use an optional turbocharged engine from the CX-9.
Bottom Line: One of the best family sedans out there gets even better with some interior improvements. It still drives and handles like a champ and cruises beautifully on the highway. Now with more optional equipment, it's even better. We just wish it had more power than the 2.5-liter inline-four cylinder provides.
It's hard to believe the current Mazda6 has been around since 2012 because it still looks fresh. But it's not just a pretty car. It's also one of the best driving and most comfortable and practical family sedans in the industry. The only question we have is why it doesn't sell better against the likes of the totally boring Toyota Camry.

And as good as it is, Mazda sought to add some nice features for 2017 including Mazda6 gains G-Vectoring Control, which improves handling and steering, along with a new Premium Package for Grand Touring models that packs in Nappa leather, a black headliner, a heated steering wheel, heated outboard rear seats, the i-ELOOP regenerative braking system, and bright metallic trim on the switches. The 2017 Mazda6 also gets better sound deadening to make the ride even quieter. We got to experience the nicely updated 6 for a week. Read on for the full review.

Driving Experience

8.9

 

The 6 makes other family sedans look like tranquilizer darts when it comes to driving dynamics. Aside from more horsepower, we love everything about the way the 6 drives. Take it on a long trip, and it's smooth and planted. Drive it through challenging curves, and it shines, giving proper feedback and road feel unmatched in this segment. The 6 happens to be a four-door sports car disguised as a family sedan.

Ride Quality: The ride is perfectly balanced between comfort and sport. It absorbs bumps and manages gaps with skill. It feels solid and drives like a car twice its price.

Acceleration: The SkyActive inline-four cylinder isn't exactly potent, but it moves the car well. We'd love to the engine for the CX-9 as an optional mill for a bit more oomph. Maybe even all-wheel drive. We can dream, can't we?

Braking: The 6's braking is progressive and strong with no dead spots in the pedal.

Steering: The 6's electric, speed-sensing power assist steering is just about perfect in terms of feel and precision. Some sports cars would kill for steering this good. The G-Vectoring control makes the steering even more masterful with minimal corrections.

Handling: Nailing turns is the Mazda6's strong suit with flat cornering, fast entry and composed exit. The car's balance is superb.

Technology

8.6

 

Mazda's technology is better than most, and though the look of the system could use more sophistication, the controls are superb. The 6 has plenty of accessible and practical technology, and the bigger touchscreen provides better visibility, while the console is slimmer than before.

Infotainment System: The 7" screen has good visibility and excellent placement on the dash. We would like to see better graphics, though. It seems a bit lackluster for an interior this nice.

Controls: Touchscreen controls and physical knobs are well-placed and easy to use. The Audi MMI-like center console knobs and buttons are fantastic with good actuation.

Bluetooth Pairing: Mazda makes it easy to pair and re-pair. Music streaming was also flawless.

Voice Call Quality: Voice calls were clear on both sides. No issues.

Styling

9.2

 

There isn't a better looking family sedan out there in our opinion. Only the upcoming Toyota Camry comes close, but that's not even on the market yet. The Kodo design language finds its best execution in the 6. Revisions to the fascia give it more sophistication, but overall the cohesiveness of the design has always been near perfect.

Front: We love the subtle changes made to the front, including the extended chrome trim under the grille and above the headlights and the sleeker foglamp housings.

Rear: The back of the 6 is pretty much unchanged, and the view of the back is excellent. Perfectly sized tailights and those nice round exhaust tips peek at you handsomely.

Profile: The profile of the 6 is just about perfectly proportioned, sleek and muscular at the same time. The double spoke dark chrome punctuate the look nicely.

Cabin: No cabin on any modern family sedan is this good. Materials quality is superb, and the coloring with parchment leather and black accents is masterful.

Comfort

9.2

 

It's one of those interiors that doesn't get enough credit. Not only does it look beautiful and cleanly styled, all the seating positions provide great comfort for sporty driving and long haul miles. We didn't find anything difficult to use, either. All of the Mazda6's interior bits work in harmony, and the ergonomics contribute to driving focus.

Front Seats: Not only do they feel great thanks to perfect width, bolstering and support, they also look fantastic. We never thought we'd see seats this good in a family sedan.

Rear Seats: Plenty of room in back for three passengers with good contours for support.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The increased sound deadening has paid off. This is one well-built, quiet car that's worthy of brand flagship status.

Visibility: Excellent visibility all around thanks to pillars that don't obstruct. The 6's seating position for the driver also provides great outward visibility.

Climate: The heated steering wheel, heated seats and HVAC system worked very well in this Chicago winter.

Safety

9

 

The Mazda6 is a well-tested, high-scoring car in terms of safety, and in top trim, it has a solid set of features that should keep you and yours out of harms way. Mazda paid attention to the safety of their big sedan, and it pays off.

IIHS Rating: It nails the Top Safety Pick+ award with "good" in every crash test and "superior" in crash avoidance.

Standard Tech: The 6 comes with an anti-lock brake system with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, dynamic stability control, traction control system, hill launch assist, rear cross traffic alert, and now a useful traffic sign recognition system and lane departure warning.

Optional Tech: The 6 now gets smart brake support, high beam control, and lane departure warning as part of the GT Premium Package

Storage/Cargo

9

 

Mazda was ingenious because they didn't sacrifice room and practicality for looks and driving dynamics Nearly all of the compartments are well thought-out, and there's enough cargo room for plenty of gear, luggage or whatever you choose to haul. Not only will the driver have plenty of storage options, the rest of the family will be more than happy with the compartments and storage in the 6.

Storage Space: We love the simple, grippy and deep compartment just in front of the shift knob. It's easily accessible and angled enough to keep small gear items in place even during hard acceleration and spirited turns. The center armrest compartment is a bit on the short side but still provides good gear space. There are even small grippy cubbies in the front armrests for small items. Very thoughtful.

Cargo Room: The trunk access is wide, and the 14.8 cubic feet of space is well shaped and easy to access.

Fuel Economy

9.5

 

Opt for the GT Tech package in the Grand Touring trim, which comes with the i-ELOOP regenerative braking system, and the Mazda6’s fuel economy rating rockets to an astounding 28/40 mpg, putting it in the top of its class in terms of efficiency.

Observed: 19.6 mpg in combined driving. Far from great, but we can explain.

Driving Factors: We drove it in Sport mode 100% of the time and drove it hard. "Normal" drivers will get far better mileage than we did. Trust us on this.

Audio

8.5

 

The BOSE 11-speaker audio system is a good one. It's bass isn't as potent as we would've liked, and the fullness of the system is very good but not awesome. No issue with the clarity, and there was no distortion. Overall, a very good system and wonderful because it comes standard at the Grand Touring level.



Final Thoughts

Our review isn't so much to say anything really new about this fantastic automobile since it's all been said already. But Mazda has seen fit to make improvements to the car even if they weren't completely necessary but very welcomed. The result is the best 6 to date, and it provides every reason in the book for shoppers to put it at the top of their list, as well as giving impetus to other manufacturers to improve their game whether they choose to listen or not. What the 6 does is elevate the family sedan game to a higher level, bringing sportiness to the forefront.
Shopping for a new
Mazda MAZDA6?