And while that phrase has applied to the Mazda6 since its introduction back in 2002, a few other phrases, like comfortably spacious, smooth riding and universally handsome, didn’t apply in a way that most American shoppers found equally enticing.
For 2009, all of that has changed.
The first car in Mazda’s portfolio to be designed, engineered, developed and built in the United States, the 2009 Mazda6 is aimed squarely at the heart of the popularly priced mid-size sedan segment. In many ways, that is the most difficult segment in which to operate. One; it is the largest, most competitive segment and two; it is dominated by Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Honda Accord. Camry and Accord being two of the best selling cars the world has ever known.
And while it is indeed a large segment with plenty of room for success, most shoppers looking for a car in that category go in wearing blinders that pre-dispose them to either the Honda or the Toyota. Therefore, if you’re going to compete with those two cars, you have to offer more than rock solid reliability, safety, utility, comfort, and spaciousness.
For openers, being good looking doesn’t hurt, particularly when combined with strong value for the money. And while the vast majority of shoppers in this category don’t really care if their car is fun to drive, if you can throw that in too, you’ll definitely attract people who do.
Mazda has done all of the above for the second iteration of the Mazda6.
From its outstanding over the road dynamics, to its thoroughly modern curvaceous exterior, and sophisticated interior appointments, the 2009 Mazda6 readily embraces Mazda’s core principles of engaging driving attributes and great value for the money––while also infusing the brew with sophisticated style, thoughtful appointments, airy spaciousness, and an extensive equipment list.
In fact, Mazda6 offers several features that rival cars in the entry-level luxury class.
Attributes like blind spot monitoring, keyless entry and start, Bluetooth audio streaming, and surround audio are typically found in most manufacturers’ premium models. Because the Mazda6 product planners don’t have to mind their place in the company’s lineup beneath an Infiniti, Lexus or an Acura the way Accord, Altima and Camry’s product planners do, they can offer the kind of high-tech luxury features in their volume-oriented car typically found only in premium models.
Still, keeping an eye on affordability is paramount in this segment. To that end, the 2009 Mazda6 is offered with a choice of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower, as well as a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 272 horsepower. (By the way, that’s only two horsepower down from the 274 delivered by the high-performance Mazdaspeed6 of 2007.)
Fuel economy minded buyers who opt for the four-cylinder can choose between a six-speed manual transmission and a five-speed automatic with manual shift capabilities. The V6 is offered only with a six speed automatic transmission. However it does provide manual operation via paddle shifters for those who like to take matters into their own hands.
The really big news about the 2009 Mazda6 is that whether you choose the V6 or the inline four, all of the option packages and equipment in the Mazda6 portfolio can be had with either engine. In other words, if you decide the four-cylinder is the choice for you, you can still get every comfort and convenience featured offered for the Mazda6. You don’t have to drive a poorly equipped car just because you prefer the smaller engine.
Over the road, we found the four pulled admirably, particularly when paired with the slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission. Producing 167 foot-pounds of torque at 4000 RPM, the 2.5 pulls nicely away from traffic signals and makes engaging sounds when you decide to take advantage of its accelerative abilities. Frankly, if we’d never driven the V6 engine we’d never have missed it in this car. Which is to say the four-cylinder does a more than adequate job of both motivating the Mazda6 and providing an engaging experience.
Still, there’s no replacement for displacement, and the V6 definitely ratchets things up a notch or two. Wonderfully tractable and smooth like fresh cream, the 3.7-liter is easily competitive with the best from Honda and Toyota.
As you might expect, with less weight in its nose, the four-cylinder equipped Mazda6 does offer a more agile feel when asked to change directions. But both cars nicely live up to Mazda’s reputation for sportiness. Regardless of engine choice, the Mazda6 sticks nicely in corners, offers accurate steering, strong brakes, and that nice sense of balance that makes a car tremendously enjoyable to drive.
In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a mid-sized ride that does everything the leaders in the segment do, but you’d also like a taste of personality and a shot of soul, you’ll definitely want to give the Mazda6 a chance to win your heart. We’re pretty confident you’ll come away from the experience with yet another phrase resonating in your head.
Base Price: $19,220 (includes $670 destination)
Engine(s): 2.5-liter inline four or 3.7-liter V6
Horsepower/torque: 2.5-liter, 170@ 6000 rpm/167 foot-pounds @ 4000 rpm
3.7-liter, 272@ 6250 rpm/269 foot-pounds @ 4250 rpm
Transmissions: Inline four: six-speed manual or five-speed automatic
V6: six-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Front engine, front-wheel drive
Fuel economy: six-speed manual 20 city/29-hwy
five-speed automatic 21 city/30 hwy
six-speed automatic 17 city/ 25 hwy
Source: on wheels inc