By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 9.1
When it debuted last year, the Mazda6 quickly caught our eye. Its sensual styling, handsome interior, agile handling and impressive fuel economy combined to make the midsize sedan an instant favorite among the KBB.com staff. The 2015 Mazda Mazda6 carries on with little change, which is a good a thing. Driven by Mazda’s Skyactiv engine technology, the Mazda6 is able to squeeze out impressive power from a mere 2.5-liter engine and return fuel economy figures that put some economy cars to shame. Mazda even offers a manual transmission on two of the Mazda6’s three trims, another nod to the enthusiast nature of the Mazda family of cars. Unfortunately, last year's promise of a Skyactiv diesel looks to have been scrapped, with only a 2.5-liter gasoline-powered model offered for 2015.
If you’re looking for midsize sedan with some sizzle, the 2015 Mazda6 won’t disappoint. From its dramatic styling to its skilled ability to round corners, this affordable, fuel-efficient family sedan has it all.
Those who love driving a manual transmission are bound to be a bit peeved that the best options (like the Bose/Moonroof package) are reserved only for cars with an automatic. It should also be noted that the Skyactiv engine requires pricey synthetic oil with a 7,500-mile recommended change interval.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2015 Mazda6 carries over with only minor changes. A new Bose/Moonroof/Satellite Radio package is offered on the Touring model, while one-touch up/down windows with backlit switches are added to the base model.
We admit there were times during our test drive we wished for a V6 under the Mazda6’s hood. But, as most buyers in this segment opt for 4-cylinder engines, we...
... feel the Mazda6’s 184-horsepower 2.5-liter offering will more than meet most expectations. Mazda’s ability to design the engine, body and suspension at the same time has created a car that is lighter and stronger than its competitors, and one that offers precise handling, excellent braking and a truly enjoyable driving experience. The fully electric power steering surprised us with its excellent feedback and relatively quick 15.5:1 ratio. As for overall ride comfort, we found the big 19-inch wheel and tire package on the Touring and Grand Touring to feel a bit harsh. Opting for the Sport trim brings smaller 17-inch wheels and a better ride, but fewer features we so love such as the Bose audio, automatic climate control and navigation.
The 2.5-liter Skyactiv 4-cylinder has an insanely high 13:1 compression ratio that helps it deliver maximum power and fuel economy without the need for turbocharging.
I-ELOOP ENERGY CAPTURE
Mazda’s i-Eloop regenerative braking system employs a fast charging capacitor in place of a battery to capture and store electricity while the car is coasting. That energy is then used to power ancillary equipment.
We think the interior of the Mazda6 is among the most upscale in the segment. The dash sweeps gracefully from driver’s to passenger’s side. The driver is presented with a dense cluster of highly legible instruments, gauges and knobs. It’s a not-so-subtle bow to the car’s “driver orientation.” Another is the Mazda6’s small-diameter steering wheel that feels great to the touch. Well-bolstered 6- or 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seats are standard on all but the lowest trim level, which is equipped with a 6-way manually adjustable driver’s seat. Rear legroom is among the most generous in the midsize segment thanks in part to the car’s 111.4-inch wheelbase.
The Mazda6’s pretty face and voluptuous curves immediately capture the attention of midsize-car buyers, who too often are offered safe, conservative designs. Mazda designers took more chances by basing the new model on Mazda’s well-regarded Takeri concept vehicle. Among the important elements are the long hood, rearward-set windshield and muscular haunches over the rear wheels. The Mazda6 also echoes and refines the Takeri’s bold front end with its sweeping “wing,” prominent Mazda badge, and finely sculptured lower valance. From both front and rear, the emphasis is on width, giving the 2015 Mazda6 the curb presence of a more expensive car.
The entry-level I-Sport trim level is equipped with the Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter gasoline engine and Skyactiv-MT 6-speed manual transmission. It also offers 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels – the largest standard wheels in the competitive set – plus power-operated side-view mirrors and automatic headlight shutoff. Push-button start, cloth seats, power windows with 1-touch auto up/down, 60/40-split fold-down rear seats, cruise control, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise control functions, and air conditioning with a pollen filter are also standard features. The standard entertainment system is a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD system that can deliver MP3/SiriusXM satellite radio reception.
In this era of connectivity, the Mazda6 offers a 5.8-inch in-dash touch screen that controls phone, audio and navigation functions. Other available features include Bluetooth connectivity and iPod audio with the familiar information accessible via the touch screen. Grand Touring models feature an 11-speaker Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound System. When a smartphone is connected, text messages can be shown on the touch screen, and the system can voice the messages and allow users to send replies using fixed phrases. A speech recognition system allows users to search and manipulate audio tracks. The most interesting new bit of optional safety equipment is the Smart City Brake Support system designed to assist a driver in avoiding frontal collisions when traveling at speeds of less than 19 miles per hour.
The sole powerplant for the 2015 Mazda6 is the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G gasoline engine. It features a radical 13:1 compression ratio for greater efficiency, facilitated by its unique exhaust manifold design that necessitated a new body structure. Equally innovative are the Skyactiv-MT 6-speed manual transmission and the Skyactiv-Drive 6-speed automatic. The latter employs aspects of both torque-converter and dual-clutch transmissions to deliver both excellent low-speed feel and admirably quick shifts. The transmissions are lightweight and help the Mazda6 turn in segment-topping gasoline-only fuel economy. Best of all, the Mazda6 doesn’t require premium fuel.
184 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
185 lb-ft of torque @ 3,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/37 mpg (manual), 26/38 mpg (automatic), 28/40 mpg (i-Eloop)
The base 2015 Mazda6 Sport with manual transmission has an MSRP starting just under $22,000, while an automatic transmission model sells for just under $24,000. The mid-level Touring trim starts around $25,000 includes virtually all the features of the Sport model plus extras like dual-zone automatic climate control and a 6-way power driver’s seat. The top-of-the-line Grand Touring starts just over $30,500 and features a wide variety of additions including unique 19-inch platinum silver alloy wheels, a power moonroof, and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. For a more precise look at the prices consumers are currently paying, please view our Fair Purchase Price pages. We expect that the 2015 Mazda Mazda6 will not hold its value quite as well as the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, but that hit might be offset by a lower purchase price.