Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Mazda6 Grand Touring: A Stand Out Design In A Me-Too Segment

Highlight: The workmanship and craftsmanship of the instrument panel layout and BMW iDrive-like rotary knob, which controls the infotainment system, gives this vehicle more of an upscale premium look and feel.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $31,870 (base model $22,820)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: air bags; tire pressure monitoring system; a traction control system; a hill launch assist system; ABS; an electronic brake distribution; and an electronic parking brake

Standard Equipment: 17-inch wheels; a manual transmission; cloth seats; manually adjusted front seats; leather-like door panels/armrests; a manual operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a leather wrapped steering wheel; a remote keyless entry system and trunk access; and a push button keyless ignition system

Standard Equipment Grand Touring Model: a forward collision braking system; a rear cross traffic alert system; a lane keep assist system; a blind spot monitoring system; a multi information instrument cluster with traffic sign recognition; a Bose 11-speaker system with satellite radio; a navigation system; heated front seats; leather seats; power front seats; paddle shifters with steering wheel; power moonroof; a radar-activated cruise control system; high beam headlight; an auto dimming interior mirror; an automatic a/c with rear vents and pollen control; rain sensing wipers; a rear spoiler sip; heated outside mirrors; and an adaptive cornering headlight system

Optional Features On Test Vehicle: none

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder/184-hp

Recommended Fuel: Unleaded

Standard Fuel Mileage:

What’s New: While the vehicle is basically a carryover for the 2017 model year, there are a few package tweaks spread across all of the trims, including a new steering wheel design along with an enhanced sound insulation.

Why: This is one of the few vehicles in the midsize segment to offer both a manual and an automatic transmission. Like its competitors, this family sedan is available in multiple trims.

One of the new innovations Mazda is touting in the Mazda6 is the brand’s new signature GVC (G-Vectoring Control) system, which improves the overall driving experience. This is the first vehicle in the Mazda line up to benefit from this new technology. Mazda engineering teams says that this technology helps by giving the midsize vehicle a smooth and predictable movement. In fact, Mazda’s engineering team says GVC is really at its best, when the road conditions are at their worse, meaning this application showcases the full use of the system. With this system, the Mazda6 moves to the head of the class, making this the most engaging family sedan in the segment.

Moreover, in addition to the variety of trims being available, the higher-end Grand Touring trim is now outfitted with a new Premium Package. This trim package includes Nappa leather, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and charging ports in the rear seating area. All of this can be had for an additional $2,500. 

We can't forget that this driver-oriented sedan also includes a center console controller which interacts with the infotainment screen. It's some what reminiscent of higher end imports like the BMW. The Mazda6 is the only vehicle in the family car segment offering this feature.

Lastly, depending upon the trim, the Mazda6 offers the latest driving safety aids, too. Those features range from a smart brake support system to a radar-activated cruise control system to traffic sign recognitions.

But: While this vehicle is classified as a midsize sedan, the interior space seems much smaller than most of its competitors. And the vehicles infotainment screen appears to be smaller too. Unfortunately, one might feel somewhat claustrophobic inside the vehicle. It just doesn't feel very family friendly in terms of room and space. 

Furthermore, to compliment the swoopy design, we believe that Mazda needs to add the zoom underneath the hood, offering a six-cylinder, or at the least, a turbo four-cylinder engine. These additions would literally match the Mazda6 perceived performance and handing capabilities. The design team should also consider added a panoramic sunroof, giving the vehicle more of an open and spacious feel.

Lastly, there are no hybrids or plugin hybrid applications as of now in the Mazda6's portfolio. We did hear at one point that a diesel could be in the future.

Verdict: With the entire midsize (or what we refer to as the family car segment) moving toward a more toned down conservative design, these days the Mazda6 is the only one that seems to pop in terms of exterior styling. The Mazda6, which seats five, is available in a variety of trims with the latest high tech safety driving aids. Its the most engaging family sedan in the segment.

Competition: Chevy Malibu; Ford Fusion; Honda Accord; Hyundai Sonata; Kia Optima; Nissan Altima; Subaru Legacy and Toyota Camry

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