First Drive: 2016 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring
Like every other Wednesday, we took possession of a new test car, and this week happened to be the slightly revamped 2016 Mazda 6. After finalizing the paperwork we decided to procrastinate the database log-in and set off on our typical road test route. But like any typical afternoon in Phoenix, we found ourselves stuck in mundane traffic… and this… this just didn’t feel right – we needed something better. So we went in search of something that is worthy enough of this new 6.
Now, since we didn’t quite get the opportunity to road test the previous model after its redesign in 2013, you’ll have to ignore our fixation over the way it looks and drives.
Ecstatically, not much has changed for the 2016 year – some new LED daytime running lamps, LED head- and fog lights, and LED taillights. Even in a yawn of a Sonic Silver paint color, the Mazda 6 is one lionized stimulating machine. The aggressive looking snout, the 19-inch smoked alloys, the angry blacked out headlights, and that LED illuminated grille – it does things to us that… better keep this PG!
The biggest change for its mid-cycle refresh is to the interior – now upgraded from a cheap BMW knock-off. Mazda really stepped up the 6 with a new modern styled dash filling it with high quality materials and giving the cockpit a cocooned feel with a reconfigured center console. Our tester, nestled at the top of the spec board was the i Grand Touring which came with a handsome black leather interior – mixed with the brown leather on the dash and door panels, it was an odd combination that we really rather enjoyed. The new dash configuration is an attractive one featuring distinctive design cues, silver and piano black trim and an overall pleasant atmosphere.
Also part of this 2016 update includes Mazda’s latest 7-inch infotainment system which can be controlled through the center console knob – it’s easy to understand, very intuitive and makes life on the go relaxing. The screen here is of great quality as it features a high resolution output, a fantastic rear backup camera and navigation system.
Designed to tackle corners while at the same time be a family sedan, the Mazda 6 is the perfect all-rounder. The front seats in our i Grand Touring were both power adjustable with heated feature, the driver seat also featured memory settings for multiple drivers and happen to be fairly comfortable with decent lateral support. The rear seats here are just as comfy as the front with decent thigh support and the ability to fit larger passengers with loads of leg and head room to work with.
Carried over from the previous model is the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine which went unchanged for the new model. Powered up with 184 horsepower and 185lb-ft of torque, it takes a mere 7 seconds to 60 mph. Of course, it’s not the quickest off the line against its top competitors like the Toyota Camry 3.5L V6 or Nissan Altima 3.5L V6 – but there is something this Mazda 6 has that they don’t: SKYACTIV Technology.
SKYACTIV is more than a catch phrase for marketing purposes – it’s a specially designed engine and chassis configuration that makes this Mazda 6 not only an enjoyable driving machine but also capable of producing nearly 40 miles to the gallon. That’s Toyota Camry Hybrid territory.
So like we mentioned above, our typical city based test route was not ideal for this 6, so we headed to the mountains. And it didn’t take long to leave the city limits behind to find something truly magical in to which the Mazda 6 can come into its own. The chassis is absolutely superb – it feels solid, hunkered down and eager to please. You can feel the crispness in the steering as it represent precise, responsiveness as you turn in and feel the corners. Rolling on 19-inch wheels and a firm ride, ride quality is sacrificed, but the payoff of cornering level is much more rewarding. Besides, the only time the ride is uncomfortable is at low speeds… so just don’t drive slowly.
There is not much to complain about when you have a near perfect car such as this – however – we couldn’t help but feel slightly bogged down by its six-speed automatic. Torque doesn’t come in till around 2500 rpms which required us to tap the go pedal a little more. The transmission had a hard time finding the right gear when the roads became hilly and struggled to deliver its power when you put the pedal to the medal. Ultimately we didn’t see much decline in our fuel consumption because of that, as we averaged over 30 mpg combined – and during our highway run we manage to pull out a very impressive 44 mpg rating. EPA Rates the Mazda 6 at 38/40/32 (city/highway/combined). Using Premium Grade fuel (though not required) we managed to squeeze over 500 miles out of its 16 gallon tank.
So how much does it take to drive home in one of these? Well first MSRP went up an extra $300 over the previous model – which were happy to pay with that new interior. Our featured top spec i Grand Touring starts at a mere $30,195 – with the added GT Technology Package at $2180 gives us Radar Cruise Control (with auto braking), I-Eloop Regenerative Engine Marking System (which stores electricity to run all the cars electrical components and save fuel), Smart Brake Support, Automatic High Beam, Lane Departure Warning, and Active Grille Shutters (helps with better fuel economy), plus we have $75 for a trunk cargo mat, $125 for Door Sill Trim Plates, and an extra $820 for destination charges brings our test car to a whopping $33,395.
As family sedans go, it doesn’t get much better than this at that price.
|Price (As Tested):|
|2016 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring||$30,195|
|Door Sill Trim Plates:||$125|
|GT Technology Package:||$2,180|