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2016 Mazda Mazda6 i Grand Touring Review

The best of the best just keeps getting better

By: Amos Kwon

Web2Carz Editor-In-Chief

Published: June 22nd, 2016

The third-generation Mazda6 has been at the top of critics' list since it showed up in 2012. And there's ample reason why. It raises the bar for what a family sedan can be and, in fact, provides impetus for every other manufacturer to improve their game, whether they choose to respond to it or not.

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. 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.

  • Driving Impressions

    Aside from a modest power bump, there isn't a thing we would change about how the 6 drives. It's simply spectacular at managing just about everything from high-speed interestate hauls to twisty backroads. The 6 just happens to be a four-door sports car disguised as a family sedan.

    It's a shame more family sedans don't follow suit. The Honda Accord comes close but still misses the mark. The Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima don't even seem to want to try to be dynamic when it comes to the driving experience. The 6 has pretty much zero torque steer, drives with amazing composure and has steering feel and precision some sports cars would kill for. It's just that good and brings immense satisfaction to the driving enthusiast in surprising ways.

    • Ride Quality: The 6 remains composed in virtually every condition and handles road bumps and undulations beautifully. It feels solid and drives like a car twice its price.
    • 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.
    • Acceleration: The SkyActive inline-four cylinder isn't a beast, but it moves the car well. We'd love to see some turbocharging for a bit more oomph.
    • Braking: The 6's braking is progressive and strong with no dead spots in the pedal.
    • Handling: Nailing turns is the Mazda6's strong suit with flat cornering, fast entry and composed exit. The car's balance is superb.

  • Technology and Safety

    The top tier 6 has plenty of accessible and practical technology, one of which is actually in the form of a much improved center console. The bigger touchscreen provdes better visibility, while the console is now slimmer giving the cabin improved spaciousness. Everything is easy to control using the simple touchscreen icons and the console's knob and adjacent buttons. These are so good, you rarely need to actually look down at them to use them.

    Our tester also had the $2180 GT Technology package that brings great features like the much-used adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, active grille shutters and the i-ELOOP regenerative-braking system, as well as other useful features.

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: The bigger 7-inch screen is a welcomed improvement. It has good visibility, but the colors could use more vibrance.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: Mazda makes it easy to pair and re-pair. Music streaming was also flawless.
    • Voice/Sound Quality: Voice calls were clear and the audio system is good but not as full-sounding as we'd like.
    • Controls: Touchscreen controls and physical knobs are an excellent pairing, and this setup makes it easy to manage systems when driving. The Audi MMI-like center console controls work incredibly well.
    • Safety:In i Grand Touring trim with the GT Tech package, the safety features are robust and include useful technology like rear-cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, rear view camera, and brake assist

  • Exterior Design & Styling

    There isn't a better looking family sedan out there. The Kodo design language is probably best expressed in the 6 since it looks like a pouncing cat. But none of the 6's lines are overdone or too dramatic. Mazda designers kept it athletic looking without making it look trendy.

    Sure, the Ford Fusion looks great, as does the refreshed Honda Accord, but nothing at this price (or at the $40K+ price level) looks this good. The 6 is handsome from every angle, and there's nothing remotely overstyled about it. It has equal parts restraint and drama, giving it the perfect balance for just about every customer. The fact that it still looks incredible after four years on the market is testament to its beauty.

    • 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 that's just fine with us. The slender taillights and the twin round exhaust tips are excellent. /li>
    • Profile: Easily one of the best views in the car industry. Perfectly proportioned, sleek and muscular at the same time. The double spoke dark chrome wheels are just right.

  • Driver and Passenger Comfort

    The more noticeable changes on the 2016 model come in the interior, and it's jsut a better place to be overall with more sophistication and superb comfort. The seats look amazing in near-white parchment leather. There's plenty of headroom and legroom for everyone, and no one should complain about the available space, shy of an NBA player.

    We're truly amazed by how much thought has been put into the cabin. None of it is overdone, and virtually none of it seems cheap. There appear to be no superfluous buttons or controls--clearly a case where form follows function. Cars that cost far more don't have interiors this nice

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

  • Storage and Cargo Room

    Another reason to like the 6 is its practical use of space. Nearly all of the compartments are well thought-out, and there's enough cargo room for a weekend getaway or a fusillade of golf equipment. Whatever you choose to haul, the large trunk is more than accommodating, and the interior compartments work very well for driver and passengers.

    It's just hard to grasp the notion that a car that drives this well and looks so good also happens to be ideal for families in need of space and comfort. 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: 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. Door pockets could be deeper but have sufficent length. The center armrest compartment is a bit on the short side but still provides good gear space. Even the door armrest has a small grippy cubby, which is great for pocket change.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room: The trunk access is wide, and the 14.8 cubic feet of space is enough to run most errands and hold luggage for the family for a weekend.

  • Final Impressions

    We can't extol the virtues of the Mazda6 enough. Once burdened by the bureaucracy of Ford ownership, this now small independent Japanese automaker has risen to the top in terms of quality, features, design and driving dynamics (not in sales, sadly). This car does so many things so well -- transports occupants in a comfortable and rich environments, turns heads based on its attractive design, nets seriously good gas mileage, and also thrills the most demanding driving enthusiasts. All of this for just above $30K in top trim and fully loaded with features.

    The fact that it doesn't sell better is shocking to us because we can unequivocally say that the Mazda6 i Grand Touring is the best family sedan for sale today. Nothing at its price point can match it. Now, if it had 20 more horses, an option for all-wheel drive, a manual transmission, diesel power and a station wagon body, it would be perfect.

  • Price & Specifications

    Engine: SkyActive-G 2.5-liter 4-Cylinder

    Transmission: Skyactiv-Drive 6-Speed Sport Automatic

    Drivetrain/Layout: front-wheel drive, front-engined

    Power Output: 184 hp / 285 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy (mpg): city / highway

    Base Price: $

    As Tested: $ (incl. $)

    Standard Features: 19-inch alloy wheels, P225/45 R19 all-season tires, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power side mirrors w/ turn lamps, heated side mirrors, auto-dimming driver's side mirror, dual exhaust w/ bright outlets, rear lip spoiler, leather-trimmed sport seats, heated front seats, 8-way power driver's seat & memory, 6-way power front passenger seat, auto-dim rearview mirror with HomeLink, 7" color touch-screen, Bluetooth hands-free phone/audio, paddle shifter/commander switch, rearview camera, advanced keyless entry system, electronic parking brake, LATCH child safety seat anchors, Smart City Brake Support, tire pressure monitoring system, blind spot monitoring system, auto on/off LED headlights, adaptive front lighting system, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights, LED combination taillights, LED lighting signature grille, power moonroof, active driving display, steering wheel mounted controls, leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, MID with trip computer, power automatic door locks, power windows wwith one-touch, USB audio input & HD Radio, dual-zone climate control with rear seat vents, 60/40 split foldi-down rear seat, BOSE 11-speaker sound system, anti-lock brake system with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, dynamic stability control, traction control system, hill launch assist, rear cross traffic alertOptions on our test vehicle: Soul Red paint, door sill trim plates, navigation system, Sirius Satellite Radio, GT Technology Package: Mazda radar cruise control, i-ELOOP regenerative engine braking system, smart brake support, high beam control, lane departure warning, active grille shutters

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