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Right now, companies like Toyota and Honda are generating waves in the family sedan market with their new engines, chassis and refined interiors, so much so, that we’ve started to forget about some of the other contenders on the road. The latest development from Mazda has showcased that while the Mazda 6 is a fully capable car at being a family hauler, it is in fact underrated as how good of car it actually is. And the slight improvements they made over the course of 2017 just go to show that Mazda has stepped up their game and this is one sedan that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

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Marking it as a 2017.5, Mazda as upgraded their range toping Grand Touring’s Premium Package, only available on the GT model to be even more premium than it already was. Feeling like we’ve stepped into a higher quality product like a Lexus or an Acura, the Mazda GT Premium Package offers up a gorgeous Nappa leather interior with heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. In addition to this $2500 package, the GTPP also incorporates higher quality fit and finish accents around the power seat switches and knobs as well as active grille shutters to improve efficiency and an i-ELOOP Regenerative braking system that uses kinetic energy to store electricity that can later be used to power the accessories incorporated with the car and help save on fuel consumption.

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Newly standard on all models, we start to see Mazda’s latest in torque management system noted as Torque Vectoring. This is now standard across all trim levels to help maintain control during slippery conditions, mostly snow, to avoid sliding off the road. However, for 2017.5 we will not see Mazda’s newest turbocharged engine that is coming in the later part of 2018. This still uses an unmolested naturally aspirated 2.5-liter power plant that produces a satisfying 184-horsepower. Laying the power down doesn’t make the Mazda6 a quick sedan but more so on the satisfactory side. It’s six-speed automatic shuffles through its gears and maximizes the most of its fuel consumption as we averaged 31 mpg over the course of nearly 1,000 miles.

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The Mazda 6 is one smooth riding operator – its competent chassis manages the road with ease and solitude. Upgraded sound density keeps the cabin quiet at speeds over 80mph. And then there’s the handling – the Mazda 6 feels special and enjoyable. It handles with charisma, feeling the road and the corners through your fingertips. It chassis is solid and well refined with proper road feedback and awareness. It keeps you wanting to continue to drive and skip the destination.

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When Mazda first reentered the circuit back in 2014, it was an enjoyable car a reasonable price. When it was revised in 2015 to feel more premium with catchy features like a heads up display, adaptive cruise control and adaptive LED lighting system, it became the car everyone should have. Now, with its new luxury package, the Mazda6 is one fine riding sedan that falls completely underrated. The quality for a $34,000 car is surreal with top notch fit and finish, the most comfortable seats one could ask for and who can deny that sharp looking face with its light up grille.

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Honda may have its new turbo and Toyota may have the grunt from its V-6 – but Mazda has soul. And sometimes that’s all it takes.

Vehicle Specifications:
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT SPORT Manual: $30,695
As Tested (including Options & Destination): $34,370
Performance Specs:
2.5-liter Four-Cylinder – 184-Horsepower, 6-Speed Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±7.5 seconds
EPA MPG: 27/35/30 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average: 31 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±400 Miles