Mazda6 combines precision handling, sedan comfort

SHARE Mazda6 combines precision handling, sedan comfort

Despite stiff segment competition and the rise of crossover sport utility vehicles, the 2017 Mazda6 perseveres as a solid choice for anyone who values driving enjoyment along with the traditional virtues of a mid-size four-door sedan.

The Mazda6 enjoys a reputation for reliability and ranks tenth among best-selling mid-size sedans (behind the Subaru Legacy and Volkswagen Passat).

The 2017 Mazda6 comes in  three trim levels: Sport, Touring and the version tested for this review, the Grand Touring. The trims share one powerplant, a 184-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 185 pound-feet of torque.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on the Sport and Touring models with a six-speed automatic transmission optional. The Grand Touring comes with the six-speed automatic, which has a manual shift mode operated by paddles on the steering wheel.

Mazda6 prices start at $23,870, including the destination charge, for the Sport model, which comes with a decent level of equipment: 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, comfortable cloth upholstery, audio system with Bluetooth streaming, Mazda Connect infotainment with voice control, high-definition radio, cruise control, rear camera, remote locking and electronic parking brake.

The Touring model ($26,120) adds 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette-trimmed cloth seats, six-way power driver’s seat, 7-inch touch screen, blind spot warning, push-button starting, rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing windshield wipers and Mazda’s smart city brake support. The last operates below 20 miles per hour and automatically applies the brakes to stop the car if a laser system detects an imminent collision.

The Grand Touring version ($31,570) has all that along with adaptive radar cruise control, lane keeping assist, a motorized glass sunroof, rear trunk-mounted spoiler, fog lights, heated outside mirrors with auto-dimming on the inside and driver’s side mirrors, navigation system, a head-up display, leather upholstery and eight-way power driver’s seat with six-way power for the front passenger.

With options, the test car had a $34,395 price tag.

Immediately apparent on a test drive is the Mazda6’s supple suspension system, which has an uncanny knack for soaking up road irregularities that would result in sharp jolts to passengers in many other cars.

That suspension system — independent front and rear with stabilizer bars — also contributes to the Mazda6’s strong suit: precision handling. It tracks confidently in a straight line and also takes a confident set around curves with tactile steering feedback.

On the road, the Mazda6 cruises quietly with modest road and wind noise — and just enough engine sounds to let insiders know there’s a free-revving engine under the hood.

Long-distance jaunts are comfortable. The front seats offer support, and side bolsters hold the torso in place during cornering. Out back, the outboard seats also deliver comfort with plenty of knee room and head room for most adults.

Bottom line: the Mazda6 earns standing as a premier sports sedan.

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