We're spending 12 months with this Mazda6 reviewing the full ownership experience with ongoing updates.

 

Premium experience on regular gas

by Matt DeLorenzo on March 11, 2019

Price: $35,720 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 7,780 miles
Latest MPG: 24.1 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 25.7 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $94.11
Days out of Service: 0

One of the secrets of getting the maximum out of our 2018 Mazda6 Signature sedan is running premium fuel to get the full 250 horsepower from the 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder beneath the hood. Having taken the Mazda6 on a road trip as well as commuting to and from work. I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret, I’ve fueled this handsome sedan with only regular fuel.

While 87 octane is not as volatile as the 91-93 octane prescribed by the owner’s manual for max output, I really didn’t notice much of a difference in performance. Fuel economy has also been fairly stable in the mid-20s throughout the sedan’s stay with us, so I don’t think there is any huge penalty associated with wanting to save anywhere from 10 to 15 cents per gallon by pumping a more pedestrian fuel into the tank.

That’s really the beauty of electronic control systems that can read the octane of the fuel and adjust the engine timing accordingly to run smoothly and efficiently. Gone are the days when you heard terms like pinging or detonation and that’s a good thing. It not only allows for a wider use of fuel grades, but also helps to keep the air clean and deliver decent fuel economy and performance.

 

At Your Service

by Allyson Harwood on February 13, 2019

Price: $35,720 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 7,523 miles
Latest MPG: 25.99 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 25.82 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $94.11
Days out of Service: 0

Mazda is very good about making sure its vehicles’ owners know when to take the car in for service. In the case of our long-term 2018 Mazda6, two different notifications showed up in the driver information center that’s surrounded by the speedometer. If you don’t notice the wrench at the top, there is an orange ring that pops up as well, and the two notifications appear, alternating between “Oil change due” and “Service Due.” In addition, the “Service Due” also includes a countdown to the mileage when the service needs to be completed to stay on schedule. The mileage on the car, plus the countdown miles to the service deadline didn’t add up to 7,500 miles, but that was the service interval that made the most sense, so that is what we had the techs perform at the dealership.

I called ahead and made an appointment for the 7,500-mile service at South Bay Mazda in Torrance, California. I’ve been there before with my personal car and have been happy with their professionalism and efficient work, so going there with our long-termer made perfect sense. (When your biggest complaint is that you don’t have access to the TV remote control, you know it’s a good dealership.) I drove up, the long-term Mazda was at the front of the line, and the service manager went over what would be done. In this case, it entailed an oil change – six quarts of 0W20 synthetic, plus an oil filter and gasket – a tire rotation and brake inspection, and a multi-point inspection.

They estimated it would take about an hour to complete the service, so I went up to the waiting area, scooped a bag of freshly popped popcorn and grabbed a bottle of water. Then I connected to wi-fi and got some work done as I waited. I didn’t look too closely at my watch, but it seemed to take less than an hour for them to complete the service. So, before I knew it, I paid $94.11 and was on my way. The Mazda won’t be due for another scheduled trip to the dealer for another 5,000 miles, when it’s ready for its next oil change.

 

Sunny Southern California?

by Lyn Woodward on January 23, 2019

Price: $35,720 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 6,197 miles
Latest MPG: 26.68 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 25.22 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Days out of Service: 0

It never rains in sunny Southern California, but when it pours, man it pours. I didn’t write that, it’s from a 1972 song by Albert Hammond about the weather in LA. I grew up believing it, because, well, it’s true.

We recently had a days-long deluge and the lyrics didn’t disappoint. I mean, it dumped non-stop! Unfortunately, because of recent wild fires here it also mudded everywhere.  All this is not to give you a weather update, but to let you know how our Mazda6 held up during the storms.

In a word, good. While it’s only front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive is not available on any sedan in the Mazda line-up, the Mazda6 felt self-assured on the road. There was plenty of grip on our 19-inch tires, even with the oily freeway conditions here in commuter land.  The stock tires we’ve got on it are specifically P225/45 R19 all-season rubber. Just a quick aside on what those numbers and letters mean.

The P means is up to safety standards in the US for a passenger vehicle, which means it’s rated for a certain load capacity. If it’s from another country, there is no letter.  If you ever see LT that means it’s rated for a light truck.

The large three-digit number, in this case the 225, that indicates the tire width. That’s the actual amount of rubber in millimeters that makes up the touch point of the car with the road. When you think about it, that’s a tiny piece of rubber hitting the pavement for catapulting a massive 3,560-pound machine at fast speeds!

The following number, the 45, is the ratio of the height of the tire’s cross-section to its width. So that 45 means the height is equal to 45-percent of the tire’s width. The bigger that number gets, the bigger the tire’s sidewall. The R indicates the construction, radial, which is how the materials within the tires run directionally. Last but not least the 19 is the wheel diameter.

The tires on the Mazda6 are not insanely fabulous. For less expensive brands, tires can add a tremendous amount of cost to the bottom line. If I was buying this car and consistently ran it in inclement weather I might be prone to changing out the tires for something more robust that gave me some additional grip, especially since all-wheel drive isn’t an option here.

Living where I do, these tires on the Mazda6 are adequate. When I needed quick acceleration it was there. Thank you 2.5-liter Skyactiv 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that puts out 250 horsepower (provided you’re using 93-octane gas). There were more than a few times over the past couple of rainy days I put my foot on the throttle and confidently squirted past slowed cars or fallen debris from the rain-soaked hills. If ever I needed an extra boost, throwing the shifter into sport mode gave me exactly what I needed, gusto. However, at higher speeds around turns, it doesn’t take much to get these tires to squeal. This was not attempted in the rain, because I like my life a lot.

On the other end of the spectrum, the brakes did their job. There are 11.7-inch vented discs on the front tires, which is where most of one’s stopping happens, and 10.9-inch rotors on the rear, and they’re more than adequate. I never once felt any slip or skid. No need for traction control testing here.

Overall, the feeling in the Mazda6 during the storm was one of confidence and comfort, also thanks in part to the heated steering wheel and seats that come on like a hair dryer. Bring on the snow! Uh, on second thought, naw. 

 

On the road

by Matt DeLorenzo on January 9, 2019

Price: $35,720 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 5,484 miles
Latest MPG: 29.4 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 24.91 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Days out of Service: 0

The holidays were a perfect time to put some road trip miles on our Mazda6 long term-test vehicle, so it didn’t take much convincing to jump behind the wheel and head up to the Bay Area over New Year’s to attend the Redbox Bowl game (Oregon vs. MSU in a defensive struggle that saw the Ducks prevail over the Spartans 7-6).

It was also an opportunity to bring some things to our son, like a set of golf clubs, which the trunk handily swallowed along with luggage and other assorted bric-a-brac. The Mazda6 is comfortable, with supportive bucket seats that proved their worth when, on a whim, I decided to head up Pacific Coast Highway from Paso Robles past San Simeon and into the Monterey Bay area. Route 1 is open now and the scenery remains breathtaking, though the driving wasn’t up to the car’s abilities since there were plenty of other holiday road trippers meandering along the coast.

No six? No problem

I managed to catch a break just north of a one-lane traffic control area where I lagged behind and let a sufficient gap build up between me and the cars ahead. In this little bubble, I was able to scoot along at an entertaining pace that made the most of the road and the Mazda’s deftly tuned suspension that provides plenty of road feel without sacrificing ride comfort. The direct steering and the 250-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine were a potent combination in attacking the curved road and the enjoyable blast over 20 miles or so almost made up for traffic ahead.

Once in Carmel, it was back to stop-and-go, and then another fun blast on Route 17 over the hills north of Santa Cruz. While some may lament the lack of V6 power in midsize sedans like this, the Mazda’s 2.5-liter Skyactiv engine has plenty of power to make those extra two cylinders seem irrelevant.

Overall, the trip, including the return home on I-5, also reinforced the efficiency of the Mazda6, which returned a high of 31.1 mpg during freeway cruising between 70 and 80 mph. I was also able to coax more than 400 miles from a tank of gas, which is pretty impressive for a non-hybrid vehicle.

Efficient, nimble and useful in carrying passengers and cargo, there’s a lot to like in Mazda’s midsize sedan.

 

Winter Issues

by Allyson Harwood on December 19, 2018

Price: $35,720 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 4,352 miles
Latest MPG: 24.55 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 27.19 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Days out of Service: 0

Believe it or not, we do get temperatures below 72 degrees in Southern California. There was a morning, not too long ago, when temperatures were downright chilly around here. Ice on the roads, snow at unusually low altitude levels – the whole nine yards. It was on this morning that I got into our long-term 2018 Mazda6 and noticed a warning on the driver information display that’s surrounded by the speedometer. It read “System Disabled Due to Poor Outward Camera Visibility,” and two symbols were lit above the warning. To the left of the speedometer was a triangle with an exclamation point, because the outside temperature was low. Interestingly, after about 20 minutes on the road, the warnings disappeared.

Frosty reception

After a bit of research, it looked like the two systems that were temporarily disabled were the lane departure warning system, as well as Mazda Radar Cruise Control – the company’s name for its adaptive cruise control system. We followed up with Mazda, who confirmed that both systems use the camera that’s located at the top of the windshield. They also said that MRCC wasn’t completely disabled; rather, it would only work above 20 miles per hour.

What triggered the warning was that frost had obscured the camera, which meant the systems didn’t have key information that was needed to allow lane-departure warning and MRCC to be accurate. That the systems were disabled is the safest way to handle the situation – you don’t want a driver to rely on inaccurate information. And after temperatures warmed up and the frost cleared, everything worked as designed.

 

Well, Hello Again, Handsome

by Lyn Woodward on November 23, 2018

Price: $35,720 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 3,738 miles
Latest MPG: 20.93 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 23.87 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Days out of Service: 0

I’d forgotten how good the Mazda6 was. About four months ago I had surgery to replace a disc in my cervical spine. The month before that I was in constant, excruciating pain. The 2018 Mazda6 had been my designated long-term car. The only problem was, it hurt to drive. The seats hit my body in all the wrong places. The headrest tilted my head forward in an awkward way, pulling on the muscles in my neck. It didn’t matter how I adjusted the seat, nothing was comfortable.

One afternoon, without putting enough pressure on the brake pedal, the very sensitive emergency braking system engaged and lurched the car forward, yanking the muscles in my neck again. I was done and traded the Mazda6 for the Pacifica Hybrid, which was far less punishing on my body.

Fast forward to post-surgery me. Driving isn’t a painful endeavor anymore, and I’m back to making videos – one of those being the long-term introduction for our Mazda6. I’ll admit part of me was dreading having to drive it again. My memories weren’t positive, but what a difference a healthy back, neck and shoulder make.

The thrill is back

Back in the Mazda6’s driver’s seat as a completely healthy person, I felt great. Depressing the throttle and getting that quick boost from the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine shared with the 3-row CX-9, I’d forgotten how impressive the power delivery was. My hands gripped around the faux-suede covered wheel, the steering felt light and responded quickly and precisely, moving the car effortless as a sculling shell cuts through a glassy river. Need to accelerate quickly onto an on ramp? The Mazda6 can do that. Have to maneuver around a hazard in the road? The Mazda6 is on it.

During the introduction video I talk about what a good-looking car it is. We’d driven it to Beverly Hills for the video shoot. While not a pricey German car, the Mazda6 looked at home on the palm tree-lined streets of Rodeo Drive.

As eager as I’d been to get rid of the Mazda6 when I was not feeling 100-percent healthy, I was equally disappointed that I’d not held onto it until after my full recovery. It’s a handsome car that’s fun to drive, but alas, that’s someone else’s fun now.

For more updates on the 2018 Mazda Mazda6 check back here every couple of weeks. 

 

All-around MVP

by Matt DeLorenzo on October 30, 2018

Price: $35,720 |  Price yours 
Current Odometer: 3,255 miles 
Latest MPG: 24.30 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 24.22 mpg 
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0 
Time out of Service: 0 days

After spending a long weekend with our long-term 2018 Mazda6 Signature, I’m reminded on how useful, comfortable and easy-to-drive a midsize family sedan can be. It makes me wonder why people are abandoning the segment in droves for compact crossover SUVs. 

The weekend started with a drive up to LAX from Orange County to pick up my son who was coming down from the Bay Area for the weekend. The Mazda6 has plenty of power to zip in and out of freeway traffic and the car has sufficient sheetmetal around you so that you don’t feel intimidated by larger vehicles on the road. Sunday found us on our way to the L.A. Colosseum for the Rams vs. Packers and again, the Mazda6 proved its mettle by providing a comfortable ride and nimble reflexes in the cut and thrust of freeway driving. The relatively tidy footprint of this sedan also made finding a spot in a parking structure next to the Metro, simple and easy. It fit neatly into a compact-marked space and we were on our way to the game.

Later Monday, we had a chance to hit the links and the trunk was plenty roomy for two full size sets of clubs. I’ve driven some 2-row crossovers where trying to load the clubs in without dropping the back seat can be a chore. Admittedly, the Mazda6 doesn’t have the upright seating position favored by a lot of the crossover crowd, but the handling and visibility out of the Mazda6 makes that a moot point in my book. The Mazda6 is also handsome, nicely detailed (the interior feels more luxury than mainstream) and relatively efficient in delivering mid-20s in combined freeway and city driving. All-in-all, it’s a job well done and vehicles like these certainly deserve a second look when shopping for a new ride. 

 

It’s the Little Things… Like the Audio Volume Knob

by Michael Harley on September 28, 2018

Price: $35,720 | Price yours
Current Odometer: 1,319 miles
Latest MPG: 27.24 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 24.68 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Time out of Service: 0 days

This past weekend, I loaded my family of four (two adults and two adult teens) into the Mazda6 for an 85-mile roundtrip drive to Angel Stadium in Anaheim. As expected, my kids took control of the Apple CarPlay, so they could blast tunes. And, also expected, everyone was fidgeting with the console-mounted volume knob to control the sound level as each unique tune blared out of the speakers – it’s mounted where nearly everyone can use it. After 20 minutes of music, and a dozen volume changes, my son and I both noticed that our index fingers couldn’t fit between the rotary dial and the side of the console – it’s mounted too close to allow our fingers to naturally rotate the small dial. That’s a hindrance, especially when you consider that other automakers (such as Audi) have executed the identical control flawlessly. While this may not be an issue when it is driver-only in the Mazda (there are duplicate steering wheel-mounted controls), it’s a needless frustration for everyone else.

 

It’s a Set Up!

by Lyn Woodward on September 20, 2018

Current Mileage: 1051
Latest MPG: 23.42 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 22.5 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Days out of Service: 0

When it comes to how the cockpit is set up, new cars can be confusing. Where’s the stop/start button? Which side of the steering column are the windshield wipers on? Then there’s the biggest head-scratcher, infotainment system set up. Navigating through the different layers can feel tougher than trekking through the Amazon with no GPS.

On our long-term Mazda6 I decided to set aside an hour to learn where everything is, get the system down and make it my own. If it took longer than that, I’d happily give up. I won’t tell you how long it took me until the end of this update, but if we were in Vegas, I’d make you place your bets now.

Straightforward controls

Overall, the center console is uncluttered and simple. That doesn’t make it unattractive, in fact, it’s the opposite. Not unlike a little black dress, simple can be excellent, and with the Mazda6 that’s the case. The 8-inch touch screen looks great, but unfortunately for me of the short arms, I can’t reach it when I’m in my ideal seating position, so I’m relegated to using the dial control on the center console. That’s not necessarily a problem because the dial has both auditory and tactile clicks as it scrolls through infotainment options. After a while, you can just feel your way with it.

There are short cut buttons surrounding the dial controller, including a favorites button for your music, a home button, and one that gets you straight to the navigation system, though I might suggest Mazda turn that navigation button into a quick jump to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (see why below) or at the very least make it a customizable button for whatever works for the individual driver.

The number of buttons to contend with on the center stack is perfect, as is their position for function. For example, no one needs to go into the on-screen settings to activate seat heaters or coolers. There’s a button right by the driver for that. Other oft-used functions like AC, fan speed, defrost and the infotainment on/off switch are all perfectly placed, and the heated steering wheel control lives right near the steering wheel, exactly where you’d expect to find it. Also, there’s a volume knob, thank you.

Convenient buttons on the steering wheel adjust volume, set the cruise control and adaptive cruise control distance, as well as provide phone short cuts and scrolling ability for vehicle information on the gauge cluster.

Simple set up

Setting up the infotainment system wasn’t as tricky as expected. Unlike some other systems there aren’t many steps to get to the setup menu. That makes for quick functionality. Most infotainment systems win Oscars from me for “hardest-radio-station-favorites set up”. No one wants to enter the Matrix, I just want to bounce between the ‘80s on Eight and The Bridge, immediately. Mazda’s set up is simple, get to the station, and add it to your favorites. Again, thank you.

There aren’t a ton of applications to weed through, either. There’s a fuel economy monitor, a vehicle status monitor, the HD radio traffic app and of course, now, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are both very new and crucial additions to Mazda’s system. Unfortunately, since both are post-production adds to our car, it’s not super easy to toggle through the Mazda system’s home screen and Apple CarPlay’s home screen. As it stands, you have to go into the home screen, then scroll to applications, then scroll down to Apple CarPlay and select. Perhaps there will be a short cut fix for that when Mazda rolls these apps out in production models. Might I suggest that’s where the nav button by the dial controller might come in handy, as built-in navigation may become obsolete with the intro of Smartphone integration and our love of Waze, Google Maps and Apple Maps?

Adjusting the assists

If you’re not a fan of safety features they can all be turned off, but they’re also adjustable. For instance, you can have the warnings set for the lane-keeping assist system as a high or low vibration. Or the distance for the emergency braking system can be set to close or far depending on your propensity to tailgate. Ambient lighting in the cabin can be adjusted for low, medium or high and you can set the headlight timer to automatically shut off at a variety of intervals once you’ve exited the car. In our long-term Kia Stinger, you can adjust how many times the turn signal flashes when doing a lane change to either three or five flashes. Why is this not an option on every car? Three flashes aren’t enough! Oh, that’s for another update.

Mazda hasn’t been lauded in the past for the best infotainment systems. They’re making strides, however, especially with the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which if nothing else, helps simplify set up because, well, your Smartphone is already set up just the way you like it. Mazda’s system may not be as groundbreaking as the light bulb, but you don’t need an advanced physics degree to figure it out either. You know how I can say that?  It only took me 20 minutes to set it all up.

 
Introduction
 
by Lyn Woodward on September 7, 2018
 
  • Price: $35,645 (including $895 destination)
  • Powertrain: 250-horsepower 2.5-liter turbo I4  
  • EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31

 

Sedans these days aren’t at the top of a lot of car buyer’s to buy lists, and while car makers are seemingly churning out a different-sized SUV every week, that doesn’t mean sedans are going bye-bye, unless of course you’re Ford. That’s another story. 

This story is about the midsized sedan that Mazda makes, more specifically the Mazda6, which just made its way into our long-term test fleet. 

Under That Handsome Hood

From the outside the Mazda6 looks like a much more expensive car than it is. The styling is minimalist but elegant. It looks sporty and powerful. We love the understated contours in the sheet metal (wow, the curve on the front quarter panels over the wheels is gorgeous) the squinty, almost European-looking headlights and the subtle front grille make for a sophisticated sedan that’s universally appealing.

But just because it looks good, doesn’t mean it has performance chops, too. But our trim is the top of the line Signature, which in addition to the turbocharged 250-horsepower Skyactiv 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine means it also comes with Sport mode on the 6-speed automatic transmission as well as torque vectoring software for improved performance and handling. We’re hoping it lives up to its hype.

What’s Inside Counts

The interior isn’t too lean on luxury either. We intentionally chose the Signature trim because it literally comes with everything, no options necessary. We wanted to test everything, and that doesn’t just mean the nav system or the safety features.

The way an interior wears is an important element of a car’s resale value. This one comes with Nappa leather seats, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, Ultrasuede door and dash trim inserts, faux wood trim pieces and a Bose surround sound system, and we’ll have a full year to see how those extras hold up.

With our trim upgrade we get an eight-inch full-color touch screen display with Mazda’s navigation system as well as Apply CarPlay and Android Auto, which is new to the Mazda6 this year. More stuff that’s great? Or more stuff to break?

Turbo Fuel Economy Numbers

Fuel economy numbers look good on paper, 23 mpg city and 31 highway for the turbocharged 2.5-liter engine. The non-turbo version claims 26 city/35 highway numbers. We do a lot of driving at Kelley Blue Book, some of our staff commute over 100 miles each way to work. We’re going to get a chance to see if those numbers stand in every kind of Southern California traffic situation.

Hauling

The SUV isn’t just king of the car world these days, it’s more like the entire royal family. The Mazda6 does its best to keep up with cargo space, offering 14.7-cubic feet in the trunk. That’s a decent size with the rear seats up and only four cubic feet less than the Jeep Renegade while seating five. The Mazda6 features a total 114.5-cubic foot of total volume including passenger space. With the rear 60/40 split seats down there’s a lot of hauling room, even if the trunk opening isn’t as wide as an SUV’s tailgate.

Next Impressions

Initially, the Mazda6 Signature feels as though it’s a lot of car for the $35,645 you’d spend on it, and we’re looking forward to testing that theory throughout the coming year. Join us as we commute to work and haul our family and friends on weekend road trips and errand runs while listening to those Bose speakers.

Be sure to bookmark this page for regular updates we add to this review.

More about the 2018 Mazda6 Signature:

See our full review of the 2018 Mazda6 or build and price your own to unlock its Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own, and more.

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