By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 12/13/2011
The 2012 Mazda6 sedan is in the midsize category with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, but it presents itself as a sophisticated alternative to the everyday family sedan. With clean lines and RX-8-inspired front fenders, the 2012 Mazda6's exterior remains competitive with newer offerings, such as the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. With a choice of 4- or 6-cylinder engines, the 2012 Mazda6 can deliver on the promise of power or reasonable fuel economy, but not necessarily both, as the 2012 Mazda6 sedan's fuel economy figures don't compare with many competitors whose 4-cylinder models offer more horsepower while approaching 35 mpg on the highway. And, despite the car's rich interior and excellent road manners, the 2012 Mazda6 has not been a sales leader. Still, we think this is a sedan that is worthy of a test drive.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a family sedan that displays a more upscale look without the upscale price tag, the 2012 Mazda6 might be for you. Its sporty exterior is matched by its excellent driving characteristics, handsome interior and powerful V6 engine.
If you're as much about high-tech audio and infotainment as you are passion and performance, the 2012 Mazad6 sedan falls short of the features offered in the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry.What's New for 2012
There are no major changes for the 2012 Mazda6 sedan.Driving It Driving Impressions
In the 2012 Mazda6 sedan, you'll find a family 4-door that melds the best attributes of a luxury car with the spirit of a sport coupe to create a very un-family-like sedan. The 2.5-liter engine that's standard on i trims (Sport, Touring and Grand Touring) is responsive with one or two people on board, but becomes sluggish with a full complement of passengers. The 2.5-liter's performance cannot match that of the newer, more powerful 4-cylinder engines, such as in the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata. If you value performance, the best choice for the 2012 Mazda6 remains the 3.7-liter V6. Coupled to a 6-speed automatic with a manual mode and Mazda's well-tuned suspension, the V6 has the power to motivate the Mazda6 while still returning decent, but not best-in-class, fuel economy. This, in the final appraisal, is a mid-size sedan with sporting ambitions, although its size and engine/transmission lineup fall decidedly on the side of comfort over performance.Favorite Features
Although available only on the i Sport trim, Mazda still offers a manual transmission in a mid-size, volume-targeted sedan, and it shall be celebrated; in an era of distracted driving, a component that demands a driver's undivided attention can't be a bad thing, can it? Happily, not only does Mazda still provide the ability to shift manually, but it equips its 6-speed manual with one of the very best linkages. Go forth and shift!
Keyless start and go
Not having to fumble with a key fob to gain access, or worry about finding the ignition slot at night, is the entire purpose behind this option. Simply keep the remote fob on your person and the Mazda6 allows you entry. Starting the Mazda6 requires the mere push of a button.
Inside the 2012 Mazda6 sedan you'll find the last remnants of Mazda's previous design language, a simple and elegant look for which we have high praise. The dash is relatively clutter-free, with simple rotary knobs for the ventilation controls and soothing red backlighting for the gauges and steering wheel controls. The quality of the materials and their applications is first rate, as are the front seats, which offer excellent support on long drives. There's a feeling of great space inside the Mazda6, although that space is more horizontal than vertical, with rear-seat passengers likely to find head room to be a bit lacking. The cargo area, with almost 17 cubic feet of space, can be expanded via the 60/40-split folding rear seats. While even the most basic Mazda6 offers an impressively handsome interior, it's the Grand Touring trims that are the most opulent, with leather seating and available features that include navigation, rain-sensing wipers and keyless entry and start. Unfortunately, the Mazd6 doesn't offer any form of telematics (think GM's OnStar) or infotainment system (think Ford's SYNC). The 2012 Mazda6 doesn't even offer an iPod interface, just an auxiliary input jack in the console.Exterior
The 2012 Mazda6's front fender design is clearly derived from the discontinued RX-8 sports car, which is in no way a bad thing. The sleek sedan profile and long swept-back C-pillars give it a coupe-like stance that is faintly reminiscent of the new class of 4-door luxury coupes, such as the Mercedes-Benz CLS. With the exception of the base model's 16-inch wheel covers, we think Mazda offers some of the most attractive wheels in the segment. With the right wheel-and-tire combo, the Mazda6 sedan leaves the realm of boring family sedans and moves toward Nissan Maxima and Volkswagen CC territory. The Mazda6's aggressively-raked windshield, sloping rear window and smooth side panels look good and contribute to reduced aerodynamic drag.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2012 Mazda6 i Sport has a smoothly responsive 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed manual transmission. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with auxiliary audio input jack, Sirius Satellite Radio, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and Dynamic Stability Control with traction control.Notable Optional Equipment
Moving up from the i Sport to the i Touring trim level adds 17-inch alloy wheels, 215/55R17 tires, fog lights, 8-way power driver's seat, leather-trimmed steering wheel, in-dash 6-disc CD changer and Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio features. Going from the "i" to the "s" trim levels adds the 3.7-liter V6 engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission; the V6 is rated at 272 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. Options for the Grand Touring include navigation, keyless entry and start, HID headlamps, heated side mirrors with driver's side auto-dimming and rain-sensing wipers.Under the Hood
If the standard 2.5-liter, 16-valve 4-cylinder engine provides zoom, then it's left to the optional V6 to supply the zoom-zoom. Although not stellar, Mazda's base engine does a very respectable job of motivating the Mazda6, delivering 170 horsepower and 30 miles per gallon on the highway with the manual transmission). The 3.7-liter V6, available only with the automatic, adds just over 100 horsepower while being rated at 27 miles per gallon on the highway. If you value handling balance over outright acceleration, note that the 2012 Mazda6 V6 sedan outweighs the 4-cylinder version by 250 pounds, and most of that weight differential is over the front wheels, so the 4-cylinder version might be expected to be slightly more responsive to steering inputs.
170 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
167 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 (manual); 22/31 (automatic)
272 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27
The 2012 Mazda6 i Sport sedan (the "base" model) is well-equipped and has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of approximately $21,000. The mid-level i Touring with a 5-speed automatic is around $24,000, and a loaded s Grand Touring will be over $32,000. Thus, the 2012 Mazda6 is a value in the segment, although perhaps not as aggressively postured as the Hyundai Sonata. For an idea of what consumers are paying in your market area consult kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price. The 2012 Mazda6 has a good projected resale value, although it still falls behind the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry.