Mazda6

I would make a terrible film critic. I was fairly sure of this, but the point was driven home when I recently heard two people discussing the merits of a certain film. They debated at length the character building and struggle throughout the movie, the subtle symbolism presented, the way the film deviated from the typical storyline of its genre and the merits of the actors’ performances. It was an incredible detailed critique of the film, so I thought I should lend my thoughts.

“Yeah, I liked that movie, it was good,” I said, exhausting every bit of analysis I could give on the film in question.

The other two parties turned to me, waiting for me to expound on my thoughts, but I simply glared back, not able to produce any more exploration of the subject. So, they politely turned back to one another and, at least with their eyes, told me to butt out of their intelligent conversation.

It’s not that I don’t have an appreciation for movies, I simply do not watch them in a critical way.

Many people test drive cars in this manner. Sure, like watching a movie they are experiencing what it has to offer but they hardly go beyond, “I like it,” or “I don’t really like it.”

While my film critiquing may be crap, I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with the ability to analyze cars, and, crucial in writing such reviews, the ability to formulate ridiculous analogies to describe them.

For instance, the MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system in the 2018 Mazda6 is intuitive to use, and the spinning control knob makes shifting through menus and radio stations a breeze. However, firing up the system with the car is like waiting for a 1999 Gateway computer to boot up when it is riddled with viruses from emails on how to grow your, ahem, manhood. I happen to live just over a mile from a grocery store and successfully parked before the system was alert enough for me to change the radio station.

That said, the rear camera and overhead cameras do show up on the screen as soon as you put the Mazda in reverse. And when the view shows up on the screen, it’s like looking at a webcam from the aforementioned computer. It is almost unbelievable that a new car could have cameras with seemingly lower quality than that convenience store security cameras of 20 years ago.

However, these are insignificant criticisms when you view the Mazda6 overall. A slow-to-boot infotainment system and low-res cameras is akin to a film in which the chief of police tells a cop to “go by the book” when the officer in question has already established he will, in no way, play by the rules. It’s a flaw, but it can be overlooked in the grand scheme of things if the film is good. 

And the Mazda6 more than makes up for those few grumbles. If I were to describe it in the way I describe films, it would receive my upmost and extensive praise — “I really like it.” 

Especially in the new-for-2018 Signature trim I tested, the 6 exudes a luxury feel without the associated price tag.

The Signature ($34,750) includes rich chestnut-brown Nappa leather seats, engaging Japanese Sen wood trim inserts, Ultrasuede trim pieces and an LCD gauge display.

The interior materials and styling is far above what can be reasonably expected in a $35,000 sedan. You have to search for materials that are not pleasing to the touch, it is accommodating, the overall interior look is pleasing and well-composed and plenty of stretch room is provided in the front and rear. 

In many ways, the Mazda6 begins to infringe into luxury territory. You can say the same about its sporty performance and comfortable ride quality.

Mazda had retained its focus on driver experience and has provided the fun factor in the 6. The SKYACTIVE 2.5-liter turbo in the Signature is superbly reactive to driver input.

The 227-horsepower turbo four isn’t the fastest off the line, but it is incredibly quick to respond in its mid and higher ranges.

The reworked chassis provides a supple and drama-free ride that doesn’t suffer from bad posture in the corners. No, it sits up straight, and coupled with responsive steering and brake feel, the 6 certainly brings the entertainment value that we have come to expect from Mazda.

There is also a level of styling expected from Mazda, and the 6 certainly delivers in that regard. I have already swooned over the looks of the Mazda3 in these pages, and the 6 is also incredibly pretty. Adding to the good looks is 19-inch alloys and gunmetal front grille in Signature trim.

The Mazda6 is available in, you guessed it, in six trim levels, from the base Sport with either a manual or automatic ($23,000) transmission to the Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve and Signature.

While Signature brinks on the luxury designation, the lower trims are still fairly equipped.

All 2018 models include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and Smart City Brake Support, which will bring the 6 to a stop in speeds under 19 MPH. Base models also include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an 8-inch infotainment screen, rearview camera and LED headlights. A step up to Touring adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a moonroof, heated front seats and additional safety features, like line lane departure warning among other amenities.

The lower trims come with the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter, which cuts 40 horsepower and over 100 torques from the turbo version. The turbo comes standard in top three trims, starting with the Grand Touring ($29,200). 

If the Mazda6 were a movie, it would appear as the production budget was that of a summer blockbuster, when in reality, it was quite affordable to make. With its gorgeous looks, it would include the sexiest and most beautiful cast, and would provide the type to fun worthy of a huge bucket of popcorn.

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