By KBB.com Editors
Mazda has long been known for its dramatic styling and unconventional ideas. What Mazda has not been known for is an ability to compete in the mid-size family sedan market, a territory that up until now has been dominated by the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. But the new MAZDA6 may find an audience here, offering commendable marks in the areas of interior space, fuel economy and performance, while demonstrating styling both inside and out that takes it to the top of the class.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a family sedan that favors the driving enthusiast, the 2009 MAZDA6's cockpit-like interior, aggressive look, athletic suspension and eager powertrains make this four-door a real eye-opener.
If your idea of the perfect family car is one with a softer ride and limo-like rear-seat room, you might want to look into the Honda Accord, Chrysler 300 or Chevrolet Malibu. While on paper the MAZDA6's interior is numerically larger, the sloping roof and high beltline make it feel, in some ways, a little more cramped.What's New for 2009
The 2009 MAZDA6 has been completely redesigned from the ground up. Changes go beyond the cosmetic, with two new engine choices, a host of near-luxury like amenities and dimensions that place the MAZDA6 at the top of its segment. By offering the four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission in the Grand Touring trim, Mazda does not penalize drivers who prefer the fuel-efficient four-cylinder over the pricier V6. The new Mazda MAZDA6 is so good that about the only thing we'll miss from the previous generation is the funky five-door hatchback model.Driving It Driving Impressions
The 2009 Mazda MAZDA6 is sportier than the last generation, with an eager V6 engine and a firm but comfortable suspension that makes the car feel more like a sporty coupe than a mid-size family sedan. With more horsepower and torque, the MAZDA6 climbs hills with little effort and approaches freeway speeds in a relatively short time. Mazda increased the structural rigidity and refined the suspension, with part of the benefit being enhanced steering precision and reduced body roll in corners. The tuning improvements are immediately apparent, as the car feels secure through the tightest of turns. In the cabin, there is minimal road and wind noise, which makes for a quiet, if not luxury-car quiet, ride. If we could make one request of the Mazda design team it would be that the comfortable leather seats could do with more aggressive side bolsters. The MAZDA6 looks and feels much sportier than the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, but its interior seems less spacious, and its four-cylinder engine isn't as powerful as those offered in some other Japanese competitors.Favorite Features
3.7-liter V6 engine
Providing 60 more horsepower than the 3.0-liter V6 from the previous-generation MAZDA6, the 3.7-liter V6 propels the car with ease, whether it be darting through intersections or doing some spirited driving.
Blind Spot Monitoring System
A little light on each of the side mirrors indicates when another vehicle is in your blind spot area. And, when the turn signal is on, a beeping sound further indicates that the blind spot isn't clear.
From the base SV trim level to the top-of-the-line Grand Touring model, the 2009 Mazda MAZDA6's interior has a refined polish and a sense of symmetry unmatched in the mid-sized segment. The comfortable seats are offered in cloth, cloth and leather or full leather trim and are heated on Grand Touring trims. Beyond its generous rear seat knee and legroom, and full complement of front and side-impact airbags, the MAZDA6's interior exudes a feeling of solidity and thoughtful construction. Gauges are clear and easy to read, with colored backlighting that is easy on the eyes. The optional equipment roster reads kind of like a Lexus check-list, and includes such notable features as push-button start, voice-activated navigation and auto-dimming inside and outside mirrors.Exterior
The 2009 MAZDA6 has a sleek new appearance aimed squarely at style-conscious motorists. Borrowing design elements from the RX-8, the MAZDA6 stands out from the rest of the category with a bold front-end design incorporating Mazda's signature five-point grille, angled headlamps, sleek hood-to-fender lines and robust fender flares housing standard 16-inch wheels. The rear fascia has an arched decklid with a subtle lip that accentuates the car's aggressive stance, while little features such as the inset exhaust tips and red and clear LED tail lamps give the car a high-end look that seems at odds with its attractive $20,000 starting price.Notable Standard Equipment
The entry-level MAZDA6 SV is nicely equipped and includes a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual transmission, power door locks and windows, air conditioning, anti-lock brakes (ABS), automatic headlamps, power mirrors, MP3/SIRIUS satellite-compatible AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers, 16-inch steel wheels and two 12-volt power outlets. Keeping its occupants safe means standard front, side and side-curtain airbags, LATCH rear child-seat anchors, Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control.Notable Optional Equipment
Most of the options are available through the higher trim levels and packages. Some of these features include a 3.7-liter V6 engine, five- or six-speed automatic transmission, a voice-activated navigation system, auxiliary input jack, cruise control, remote keyless entry, push-button start, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, heated seats, power driver and passenger seats, 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels and leather-trimmed seats, steering wheel and shift knob. The "Convenience" package includes dual-zone auto climate control, xenon headlamps, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, Blind Spot Monitoring System and rain-sensing wipers, while the "Moonroof and Bose" package includes a power moonroof and Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio with a six-disc CD changer and 10 speakers.Under the Hood
The new four-cylinder engine in the 2009 Mazda MAZDA6 is increased to 2.5 liters, resulting in more power without sacrificing fuel economy. For the optional V6, Mazda uses the 3.7-liter engine from the CX-9 crossover utility vehicle. As with the four-cylinder engine, Mazda was able to manage a big jump in the MAZDA6's horsepower and torque without causing a significant reduction in fuel economy. Sadly, the wonderful six-speed manual available with the 2.5-liter engine is not offered with the automatic-only V6.
2.5-liter in-line four
170 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
167 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 (manual); 21/30 (automatic)
272 horsepower @ 6250 rpm
269 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25
The 2009 Mazda MAZDA6 i SV trim has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $19,000, while the top-of-the-line S Grand Touring V6 trim is priced closer to $29,000. When fully-loaded, the MAZDA6 tops out around $34,000. The MAZDA6's price range places it at about the same level as the Toyota Camry and several thousand dollars less than the Honda Accord sedan. As always, to make your best deal, take a look at the Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers in your area are currently paying for the MAZDA6. As for resale, the MAZDA6 should hold a better-than-average resale value over time, higher overall than the Chevrolet Malibu and Chrysler 300, but less than the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.