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2020 Mazda6 delivers sporty drive, class-leading style

Posted On Wednesday, 05 February 2020 00:54 Written by
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The interior of the 2020 Mazda6 outshines its rivals. The interior of the 2020 Mazda6 outshines its rivals. Photo by Matt Myftiu/

When you’re battling the likes of top-sellers like the Camry and Accord, standing out in the midsize sedan category isn't easy. But that is the task facing the underdog Mazda6.

Despite that daunting task, the brand succeeds fully in this quest.

After a week in the 2020 Mazda6, I can confidently say that due to a combination of sharp design, strong power plant and technology, the flagship Mazda6 sedan makes its case as one of the best, perhaps even THE best, in class.

The design of the 2020 Mazda6 is essentially a holdover from the 2019 model, which isn’t a bad thing. The 2019 looked very sharp, so ditto here.

The interior of the Mazda6 is arguably the best-quality you’ll find in any non-luxury sedan (and continues to improve year to year), while the exterior is boldly designed in a way that stands out from the competition, with options like a gunmetal front grille.

With multiple trim levels, including the high-end Signature trim level I tested, you can choose between various standards of elegance, but even basic Mazda models stand out vs. the competition. Premium paint colors (such as the Soul Red Crystal Metallic on my test vehicle) pop in a way most other vehicles don’t.

The interior is roomy for the class, with available premium Nappa leather trimmed seats that are truly comfortable. Optional wood trim sharpens the interior design further.

The heated seats work like a charm and are downright toasty, and you can opt for a power moonroof.

Other features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone climate control, push-button start and remote keyless entry, and you get a rear seat armrest with cup holders, as well as two rear-seat USB charging ports for passengers to use.

Standard premium features include: Automatic headlights, high beam control, rain-sensing wipers, rearview camera, a persistent seat belt reminder indicator, LED headlights and taillights, and dual exhaust outlets. You can also opt to heat the rear seats.

17-inch wheels are standard, but you can upgrade to 19 inches.

Two power plant options are available on the 2020 Mazda6.

Option one is the base engine: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder offering with 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque.
I would advise moving up to the second option, a turbocharged Skyactiv-G 2.5 Turbo engine, which I tested and loved driving, especially in Sport mode.

The numbers on this one are 310 lb-ft of torque, and either 227 horsepower (using 87 Octane) or 250 horsepower (using 93 Octane).
The vehicle is Front-Wheel Drive only, and only available with automatic transmission, but paddle shifters can help you replicate that manual experience.

By all accounts, the Mazda6 drives better than most (or perhaps even all) of the non-luxury sedans that it competes with. That’s just Mazda’s thing. It’s never bland. Lots of get-up-and-go, excellent handling and sporty dynamics. You will actually enjoy driving this sedan (something I can’t say very often).
At the same time it is showing its sporty personality, the Mazda6 is also smooth and quiet. It’s the rare vehicle that can please both grocery getters and many driving enthusiasts.

This is a tough category, as most vehicles competing in the midsize sedan world have excellent safety and tech components. But Mazda does an admirable job of trying to stay up to the high standards that have been set.

Navigation is extremely accurate and responds well to voice commands. Integrating your phone to the vehicle is a breeze and extremely helpful to drivers.

The Mazda6 audio performance impresses (a six-speaker setup is standard, and you can upgrade to an 11-speaker Bose system).

At the center is the Mazda Connect infotainment system and its eight-inch color and touchscreen display. Bluetooth connectivity allows you to use your phone for calls and audio, and you also get two USB ports up front. Most trim levels (all but the base) will offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for phone mirroring.

The only downside tech-wise is the manual control for the infotainment system, via a center dial, which takes longer to achieve your goals than other brands' infotainment offerings.
On the safety side, Mazda’s full suite of i-Activsense safety features comes standard on all Mazda6 trim levels. The suite includes:

  • Mazda Radar Cruise Control with stop and go function
  • Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Advanced Smart City Brake Support with Pedestrian Detection
  • Lane Departure Warning with Lane-Keep Assist
  • Smart Brake Support

You can also opt for the 360º View Monitor, with front and rear parking sensors. Mazda’s navigation features Traffic Sign Recognition and SiriusXM radio, with a three-year Traffic and Travel Link subscription.

The vehicle is nearly perfect with its government safety ratings, boasting 5 out of 5 stars in most categories, an important factor for many car buyers who seek the safest vehicle possible.
Other tech and safety features include a tire pressure monitoring system and anti-lock brakes with brake assist. A three-month subscription to satellite radio is also included.

The official fuel mileage numbers on the Mazda6 are: 26 city/35 highway/29 combined (Skyactiv-G 2.5); and 23/31/26 (Skyactiv-G 2.5Turbo). In real world testing, I averaged about 22 mpg. These numbers are not best in class, being beaten by some competitors, but it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to live with for one reason — the driving experience in this vehicle is much better that those competitors with better fuel economy will offer.

It comes down to what is more important to you — the drive quality, or the savings at the pump.

Pricing on the 2020 Mazda6 starts at $24K (base Sport model); $26,600 (Touring); $29,700 (Grand Touring); $32,200 (Grand Touring Reserve); and $35,300 (Signature). My Signature test vehicle was priced just under $37,000.

The Mazda6 also features strong bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranties, and 24-hour roadside assistance.

Other than minor quibbles on the tech front, the Mazda6 has the advantage on its midsize sedan competition. 
Powerful and smooth ride. Sharp looks inside and out, including a luxury feel to the interior. And strong on safety.

If you are testing sedans and not including the Mazda6, you're making a mistake. Because while its sales might not rival those bigger-name competitors in the segment, its quality most certainly does, and then some.

----- can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2020 Mazda6  
  • Price as tested: $36,915 (Starting price: $24,000)
  • Best feature: Sporty ride, strong tech features, high-end interior design 
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars  
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Sedan buyers who want good looks, elegant design, and a class-leading drive quality
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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