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

 

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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