2016 Mazda6
2016 Mazda Mazda6 (Mazda North American Operations)

The Ford Fusion and Mazda6 are always competitive in our affordable midsize car rankings, and the 2016 model year is continuing the trend. Both the 2016 Mazda6 and 2016 Ford Fusion are well-rounded vehicles worthy of your consideration, but there are some key differences you should keep in mind as you decide which one is better for you.

We’re comparing the lowest trims with automatic transmissions on both cars, and while the Mazda6 has a slight edge in standard horsepower, the Fusion has two available turbocharged four-cylinder engines that produce 181 and 231 horsepower, respectively. In terms of fuel economy, the Mazda6 has a considerable advantage when comparing base engines, but the Fusion’s available 1.5-liter turbocharged engine narrows the gap with a 25/37 mpg city/highway rating.

If you want the added traction of all-wheel drive, you’ll have to opt for the Fusion SE AWD ($27,930), as the Mazda6 is front-wheel drive only. On the other hand, if a manual transmission is a must-have, the Mazda6 is the answer, as the Fusion is only available with an automatic.

The Fusion comes equipped with MyKey, which allows parents to set speed and audio volume limits for teen drivers, while the Mazda6 comes with push-button start, HD Radio and Pandora, which generally aren’t standard in the class. Both the Fusion and Mazda6 are available with an upgraded audio system and navigation, as well as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and forward collision alert. The Mazda6 is also available with Smart City Brake Support, which automatically applies the brakes at low speeds if a collision is detected and the driver fails to respond.

2016 Ford Fusion
2016 Ford Fusion (Ford Motor Company)

On the road, test drivers report the Mazda6 and Ford Fusion have responsive steering and exceptionally nimble handling for the class. Reviewers say the Mazda6’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provides enough power for most situations, and note that although the Fusion’s base engine feels underpowered, they’re pleased with the power provided by the Fusion’s available turbocharged engines.

Inside the cabin, both sedans earn reviewer praise for their high-quality materials and modern design. Critics are less impressed by the Fusion’s MyFord Touch infotainment system, which they say is cumbersome to use and slow to respond to user inputs. The Mazda6, meanwhile, has easy-to-use climate and audio controls, test drivers say, although some report the available navigation system could be more user-friendly. Most reviewers agree that both the Fusion and Mazda6 offer comfortable and spacious seating in the front and rear.

Due to equally positive reviews from the automotive press, the 2016 Ford Fusion and 2016 Mazda6 each have an overall score of 8.5. Both are strong picks if you want a relatively sporty affordable midsize car with an upscale interior. If fuel economy is a top priority, the Mazda6 is the better option, and it also has a higher safety score than the Fusion. If you want more powerful engine options or all-wheel drive, then the Fusion is the better midsize sedan for you.

Interested in purchasing or leasing a Fusion or Mazda6? Check out the latest Ford and Mazda deals and incentives. When you’re ready to buy, use the U.S. News Best Price Program for guaranteed savings on your new vehicle. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.