2018 Mazda Mazda6

Performance


#5 out of 19 in Midsize Cars

$21,950 MSRP
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2018 Mazda Mazda6 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.8

The 2018 Mazda6 maintains its standing as arguably the most fun-to-drive car in the class. It gets adequate power from its base engine, but the turbocharged engine, which is new for 2018, really unlocks this sedan's potential. It feels faster in all situations, and it's a nice complement to the Mazda6's outstanding handling. Fuel economy is average for the class, and the ride is smooth.

  • "The Mazda 6 is the performance machine of the usually ho-hum midsize sedan segment. Superb steering, a responsive chassis and a willing engine mean this is a car for people who actually like to drive." -- Edmunds
  • "The Mazda6 provides a sporty alternative to the conventional humdrum midsized sedan. A coupe-like silhouette stands out with eye-catching looks. You probably won't be bored driving the car, either. Quick, responsive steering contributes to agile handling." -- Consumer Reports

Acceleration and Power

The Mazda6 comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 187 horsepower. It's mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. The base engine suffices for daily driving, but it can feel underpowered in demanding situations like highway passing and climbing hills. It also makes a fair bit of noise at higher rpm. When paired with the automatic, the engine gains cylinder deactivation technology for 2018 to help improve fuel economy.

Higher trims feature a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out either 227 or 250 horsepower, depending on what grade of gasoline you use. The turbocharged engine feels like the power plant this Mazda deserves. It provides eager acceleration from a stop and at high speeds, and it never feels strained. The only downside to the turbo-four is that you can't pair it with a manual transmission.

With its base engine, the Mazda6 gets an EPA-estimated 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Those are typical ratings for a midsize car, though rivals like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry get better numbers. Upgrade to the turbocharged engine, and fuel economy dips to 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

  • "The standard 184-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is powerful enough for most buyers, but the newly available 250-horsepower turbocharged engine finally gives the new Mazda6 sports sedan acceleration and passing power. The engine … is smooth with plenty of torque off the line and an entertaining punch at higher rpm. The 6-speed automatic transmission has fewer gears than many in the class, but it's responsive and a good match for both engines, plus it has a Sport mode." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The base 2.5-liter engine doesn't have big grunt at low rpm, so you need to rev it hard for max acceleration. We enjoy the six-speed manual, but don't expect to be faster than the automatic with it." -- Edmunds
  • "… the gap between the two engine choices readily makes itself apparent. The 187 horses in the Touring trim I sampled got the job done in almost every situation, but required prolonged runs at 4,000 rpm in order to summit the frequent long uphill stretches of 2-lane road that I encountered, filling the cabin with a distinct aural indication of the workout occurring under the hood. Conversely … the turbo-four was a willing co-conspirator with each passing maneuver, and felt significantly more buttoned-down as the speedometer swept past 70 mph. It also came across as a better match for the automatic transmission's 6-pack of ratios, never confusing the wrong gear for the right one during my afternoon behind the wheel." -- New York Daily News

Handling and Braking

Though other midsize cars have started to focus more on performance, the Mazda6 still stands above nearly every competitor when it comes to driving enjoyment. The 6 feels planted around turns and delivers excellent steering feel – a combination that will have you relishing winding roads. This Mazda delivers that handling while still providing a comfortable ride. The brakes are generally strong, but they can feel grabby at lower speeds. Front-wheel drive comes standard.

  • "Mazda's entire lineup has earned a reputation for exceptional driving dynamics and the 2018 Mazda6 lives up to the those expectations. This year Mazda has retuned the sedan's suspension for improved handling and a smoother ride, and the results are impressive. The Mazda6 is more fun to drive than before, with class-leading cornering capability, but its ride is now far more refined." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Of course, the Mazda 6 in any trim continues to impress with its willingness to occasionally cut loose and deliver an above-average experience on more engaging stretches of asphalt. Minor suspension upgrades have been added to the mix for 2018's refresh, resulting in a well-focused platform that feels a cut above a number of other commuters in its class – although that particular divide is narrower now with players like the recently-redesigned Honda Accord hitting hard in the handling department." -- New York Daily News
  • "Few cars in this class give this kind of steering feel or handling poise. The Mazda 6 feels glued to the road and it relishes corners. It's responsive to driver inputs and doesn't just plow the front end through turns as most rivals do." -- Edmunds
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