2016 Mazda6 deserves more love in the midsize sedan market

The Mazda6 gets a major refreshing for 2016 with a new grille design just one of the tweaks. The car was introduced in the 2003 model year as a successor to the Mazda 626 and Millenia midsize sedans.

2016 Mazda6

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Mazda gave a major refreshing to its flagship sedan the Mazda6 for 2016, among other things enhancing the interior and giving the exterior treatments like a new front grille and signature wing design.

The result is a more attractive appearance and a vehicle that, frankly, is deserving of more love than it is currently receiving.

Though it gets generally high marks form critics, ranking No. 3 among affordable midsize sedans in the analysis of U.S. News & World Report, the Mazda6 lags far behind sales leaders Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion in the segment.

Sales for the Mazda6 were down just over 3 percent for 2015 and the trend accelerated for January with a tumble of nearly 32 percent over last year’s figures, according to Mazda number crunchers. They sold at about the third the rate of the compact Mazda3.

Too bad. The Mazda6 has a lot to offer.

It has a fuel efficient, 4-cylinder engine that sends 184 horsepower and 180-pound feet of torque to its front wheels via a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission while drinking regular fuel at the rate of 25 miles-per-gallon city, 37 highway with the manual or an even more impressive 28/40 with automatic models featuring Mazda’s ELOOP technology.

The top-of-the-line Grand Touring trim comes with leather-trimmed sport seats, 8-way powered driver’s seat (6 for the passenger), 7-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, paddle shifters for manual gear selection in addition to a Sport mode for the transmission, rearview camera, an electronic parking brake that is set by a switch at the driver’s fingertips on the center console, keyless entry and push-button start, power moonroof, a head-up active driving display that puts speed and other info on a holographic display in front of the driver’s eyes, and much more at a base MSRP of $31,015 (including the $820 destination and delivery charge).

Add a couple of options, like a technology package that includes adaptive cruise control which adjusts your speed to the vehicle in front of you, lane departure warning, and a couple of other tweaks and you’re talking about a total MSRP of $33,515 for a well-equipped family sedan.

About the only thing working against the Mazda6 is that the operation of many of the technological features can get complicated. Mazda Connect has systems for apps (traffic and fuel info, maintenance schedule), audio, phone, navigation, and vehicle settings. They operate off the touchscreen, though you can also make selections via a dial on the center console.

Sounds simple enough, but there are some quirks you have to deal with.

Example 1: To adjust the scale for the navigation map, you first must hide the other “buttons” that run across the bottom of the screen. If you don’t, the cursor simply skips across the bottom of the screen.

Example 2: To scan the radio dial manually, you also must find the proper icon at the bottom of the screen to highlight, then make your selection. Oddly, there are different icons to scan when you are listening to satellite radio from when you are tuned to an FM or AM station.

OK, that might not seem like much, but one of the basic tenets of auto design should be to make operation of all the technology a vehicle has to offer simpler to operate, not fussier. And these are definitely on the fussy side. Come to think of it, this adds somewhat of a Teutonic touch to a Japanese vehicle.

Well, there is one other tweak. The head-up display for the driver is shown on a plastic piece that sticks up just above the instrument display. You can turn off the information displayed via one of the vehicle settings. But the clear plastic piece, which retracts when the engine is turned off, still sticks up in front of you when the engine is on.

Much of this is found on the top Grand Touring trim.

The Mazda6 also comes in Sport and Touring models offering a manual transmission in addition to the automatic and priced at $22,315 (Sport w/manual), $23,815 (Sport /w automatic), $24,765 (Touring w/manual), and $25,815 (Touring w/automatic).

For a look at the 2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring model and some details, check out the accompanying slide show.

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