Road Trip time is always the best time in a young car's life, so when we told our long-term 2014 Mazda Mazda6 that we were driving it up to Santa Cruz, California for a long-overdue shakedown cruise, the midsize sedan could hardly contain itself (which is a little odd, because the Mazda6 is one of the more snug midsize sedans in the game right now).

Packing the Mazda6 for a long weekend for two is easy, as long as you put the guitars in the back seat. A family of four would have a tougher time of it, however. The Mazda's interior and trunk dimensions are tighter than a big family with lots of stuff can get away with. That's when a Honda Accord sedan or the new Hyundai Sonata really earn their keep.

As the crow flies, we flew

The journey from the traffic-choked freewayland of Southern California to the coastal paradise/bedroom community of Santa Cruz is mostly flat and essentially composed of three lines on the map: Interstate 5 (dead straight), Highway 46 (connective tissue between the 5 and the 101), and Highway 101 (pretty much straight aside from a sweeping dogleg curve at King City). That's the quickest route, and we took it.

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2015

Getting out of the SoCal gridlock was pretty much a cake walk in our long-term Mazda6, despite the added manual labor of the shift-it-yourself 6-speed transmission. Once we cleared the traffic pale, however, we enjoyed the freedom of cruising in 6th gear and passing laggards with ease in 5th, admittedly with just a little more wind noise from the outside world creeping in. The ride stayed firm without being irritating -- an effect we testified to in an earlier long-term report [http://www.kbb.com/car-news/all-the-latest/2014-mazda6-long-term-update-driving-dynamics/2000010936/], and over the last 10 twisty miles through the hills into Santa Cruz, the Mazda6 re-proved itself to be the true sports car of the midsize sedan market.

Best of all, our non-conservative open-road cruising still kept our 2.5-liter 4-cylinder's highway fuel economy close to the 37 mile-per-gallon EPA estimate -- once, we even logged 35.6 mpg between fill-ups.

All this useful beauty

When it comes time to take pictures, though, our long-term Mazda6 has everything going for it. The shape pretty much allows your eyes to flow across it, front to rear. Oh, I remember standing in a Taco Bell parking lot, Diet Pepsi in hand, and pausing just to admire the sunlight glowing off the Mazda's Soul Red rear haunches. That Soul Red paint, by the way, adds an extraordinary amount of driveway appeal to the Mazda6. We fully recommend it.

Photographing a Soul Red 2014 Mazda Mazda6 in the Victorian/seaside/university town of Santa Cruz makes anybody a decent photographer. The trip was a success, as was the drive, and when we returned home, we were relaxed and refreshed, not beaten up -- that's one of the signs of a decent road trip car.

More 2014 Mazda6

See full review and pricing information for the 2014 Mazda6 or build and price your own to unlock its Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own, and more. 

 

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