Mazda's full-size sedan, the Mazda 6, played a crucial role in helping the Japanese automaker put the zoom-zoom back into its vehicles. During a time when competitors like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry were trying to be more sporty and playful with their vehicles, Mazda decided to stand out, and made a great leap forward with its revitalized Mazda 6 that replaced the long-serving Mazda Capella (616, 626). The Mazda 6 was the first vehicle built to exemplify the company's new "Stylish, Insightful, and Spirited" design ethos. In its third generation, the Mazda 6 has remained a standout choice for big, comfortable, sporty sedans.

First Generation: 2002 - 2008


Introduced as a 2003 model, the Mazda 6 four-door sedan was designed to appeal to enthusiast buyers, who wanted more than just practicality. The renamed and revved up Mazda 6 took the new branding to heart, delivering an attractive front-wheel drive car that was fun to drive. An all-new suspension with a double-wishbone system up front and multilink system in the rear made for a more nimble, spirited ride. Both the 2.3-liter four-cylinder and V6 were all-aluminum, putting out 150 and  219 hp, respectively. The four came with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic while both the V6 manual and automatic gearboxes were five-speed.

While it might not have had as much passenger legroom or headroom as its direct competitors, by the end of its first year of production, the Mazda 6 was standing out with its unique flair, in a segment often ridiculed for lacking personality. The following year, Mazda introduced a sport wagon and five-door hatchback to its lineup, providing buyers with the option for a more practical ride that offered increased space, without compromising driving dynamics. The hatchback was available with both a four-cylinder and V6 engine while the sport wagon only comes with the V6, and in the sportiest "S" trim level.

But Mazda didn't stop there with the fun. They introduced a more thrilling version of its midsize sedan in 2006, with the MazdaSpeed6. The turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Mazda 6 featured direct injection into its 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. It put out 272 hp and was mated to a six-speed manual transmission. A useful Active Torque Split All-Wheel drive system even adjusted the front and rear torque distribution depending on conditions for ultimate traction.

Second Generation: 2008 - 2013


Mazda's 6 was met with critical acclaim during its first generation, so Mazda didn't want to muddle its winning recipe. Instead, it gave the 6 a midlife makeover that was a careful evolution, bringing a sleek, more corporate-looking face to the 6. Still offered in three body styles, the new Mazda 6 was lighter, with better aerodynamics, and the U.S. version was widened and lengthened. An updated interior looked more refined with chrome accents and piano-black surfaces in addition to updated seat upholstery. Engine choices for North America were a new 2.5-liter four, and a 3.7-liter V6 also found in the Mazda CX-9, that could clock a 0 to 60 time of 6.1 seconds.

Third Generation: 2014 - present

Mazda 6

The third and current generation brought about some changes to the Mazda 6. The hatch body style went away, as several other automakers were pulling their wagon variants from the North American market. Offered in a four-door sedan or five-door station wagon variant, the new Mazda 6, the new design was very well-received and was a finalist for "2013 World Design of the Year." The body became more rigid, and lighter, with a stiffer Macpherson strut replacing the double-wishbone front suspension. The 2016 Mazda 6 is powered by a 2.5-liter inline-four cylinder, producing 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. While puttering about the city the gas mileage is only 26 mpg, it can still muster 38 when cruising on the highway. A suite of driver-assist safety features is optional to make commuting and running errands that much easier, but on the open road  the 6 is flawless. To steal Mazda's tagline, "it's the cure for the common drive."

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