By KBB.com Editors
The most horrible day in a driving enthusiast's life is when he or she realizes it's time to trade-in the beloved coupe for a traditional family sedan. Few companies understand this angst better than Mazda, which is why it created a fun-to-drive four-door family sedan with racy good looks and a budget-friendly price tag. The 2008 Mazda MAZDA6 is in the same market category as the Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry, but offers a much more flavorful driving experience, not to mention a wide and varied lineup that includes a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback. Although not as roomy inside or as large outside as the Camry, the MAZDA6 is a more satisfying daily driver, with more than enough room to accommodate a family of four.You'll Like This Car If...
If you need the practicality of a midsize sedan, but you'd really like the driving involvement and performance characteristics of something with more personality, the 2008 Mazda MAZDA6 makes for the perfect compromise.You May Not Like This Car If...
The MAZDA6 is not as spacious as many of its competitors. Front-seat headroom is about an inch less than in the Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat and almost two inches shy of that in the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.What's New for 2008
For 2008, a tire-pressure monitoring system is made standard, while Touring trims receive a Bose audio system and the i Sport models receive new 17-inch alloy wheels. Sadly, the wagon model has been dropped from the line up.Driving It Driving Impressions
The thoughtful ergonomics of the MAZDA6's interior, with the tilt and telescoping steering wheel, multiplicity of seat adjustments and variable lumbar support, make finding a comfortable driving position quite easy. Once settled behind the wheel, you can enjoy the exceptional driving experience. The MAZDA6 turns into corners with the level of response and precision you would expect from the best sports sedans; this is the kind of car that can have you searching for the long way home. The rear suspension is what Mazda calls "E-Type" and, in addition to contributing to the excellent handling, it also eliminates the conventional rear strut towers that intrude into the cargo areas of other designs.Favorite Features
Smart Hatchback Design
The five-door's clever design offers the functionality of a hatchback with the profile of a sedan.
Standard Tilt/Telescopic Steering Wheel
We appreciated the standard tilt/telescopic steering wheel with touch controls.
As is becoming typical of Mazda products, the interior appearance, functionality and quality of materials is quite good. The door panels alone are lessons in design and assembly precision, with overlapping shades, differing textures and fabrics and tasteful chrome. The instrument panel is highlighted by a wide center stack, with a nickel finish, that contains the large knobs for the audio and climate functions. A narrow readout atop the dash displays information for the sound system, CD and outside temperature. The instrument cluster is composed of an oversized speedometer and tachometer flanked by the fuel and temperature gauges, all backlit in a constantly glowing, easy-to-read deep red light.Exterior
The sleek MAZDA6 stands in stark contrast with the rest of the midsize family sedan field. Its sensuous body shape, striking 17-inch alloy wheels and prominent grille make a definite performance statement. The five-door models add versatility without interfering with the car's attractive appearance, disguising the hatchback so that it appears to be a conventional rear window and trunk lid.Notable Standard Equipment
The MAZDA6 i is powered by a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual transmission, and includes air conditioning, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), traction control, front side-impact airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, front and rear cup holders, tire pressure monitor, rear defroster, illuminated keyless entry, cruise control, power windows, auto-off headlamps, dual power mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD, split-folding rear seat, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with touch controls and 17-inch wheels. Choose the MAZDA6 s and receive a potent V6 engine, a six-speed manual transmission (Sport only) and some other features. Grand Touring models include automatic climate control, automatic transmission, leather seating, heated front seats and a 200-watt Bose audio system with a six-disc MP3-compatible CD changer, subwoofer and seven speakers.Notable Optional Equipment
Options vary by trim level and include an in-dash six-disc CD changer, power glass moonroof, heated mirrors, fog lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, a rear spoiler and several other packaged and individual features. An option exclusive to the Grand Touring is Mazda's voice-activated navigation system.Under the Hood
Considering its modest displacement, the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine of the MAZDA6 i is a strong performer, but only when operating in the higher engine speed ranges. Fuel economy and a lower price are the primary reasons to choose the four-cylinder alternative. Enthusiasts will want the 3.0-liter V6, which features improved low-end torque, more power and a smooth, quick response. The V6 can also be matched with the slick-shifting five-speed manual, an uncommon feature among V6 sedans in this market segment.
2.3-liter in-line 4
156 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
154 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 (manual), 21/28 (automatic)
212 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
197 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 (manual), 18/25 (automatic)
Pricing for the MAZDA6 ranges from a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $19,500 for the four-door, four-cylinder i Sport, to just over $28,000 for the six-cylinder s Grand Touring five-door. With all the options, the MAZDA6 tops out around $31,500. A look at the Fair Purchase Price page will show the typical transaction price paid for the MAZDA6 in your area, so be sure to check it out before you begin negotiations. The MAZDA6 is expected to hold a modest resale value, lower than the values projected for the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, VW Jetta and Nissan Altima, but higher than those for the Hyundai Sonata V6, Ford Fusion and Mitsubishi Galant.