In anticipation of 2018, Mazda tweaked its midsize Mazda6 in late 2017 and put it on the market as a 2017.5 model. Today, the full-fledged 2018 Mazda is being sold and differences are nil or slight from the half-year model. Measurements remain basically the same.
Prices are a few dollars more (pricing begins at $23,000 for five trim levels) but 2018 beckons the arrival of a new top-of-the-line model. It is a Signature carrying a manufacturer's suggested price of $34,750. That was the model tested during one recent week.
For 2018, the Signature model is equipped with Mazda's Dynamic Pressure turbocharged SKYACTIV 2.5-liter engine that delivers up to 250-horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. Also carried over are the six-speed automatic Skyactiv-drive and six-speed manual Skyactiv-MT transmissions.
The Signature's upgrades are in trim and safety features. The front grille has a gunmetal finish, the automatic dimming rear view mirror with HomeLink is frameless, the leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters is heated, seating surfaces are Nappa leather, wood and suede are used in door and dashboard trim inserts and the headliner is black. In addition, safety elements are a 360-degree view monitor plus front and rear parking sensors.
Each of the Mazda6 trim levels has a bevy of safety equipment. Besides the usual antilock brakes, air bags, traction and stability controls, today's standard equipment includes blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. This generation of Mazda models is the first to implement an electrical parking brake.
A full-color driving display heads-up unit is standard on the Signature, as it is on the upgrade Grand Touring model. The official speed limit is projected onto the driver's portion of the windshield alongside the actual speed of the Mazda6. This projection helps avoid speeding tickets.
Fog lights and grille surrounds are LEDs. Mazda6 is the largest sedan offered by the Japanese company. Products come with SkyActiv powertrains, technology introduced in 2011 to increase fuel efficiency and engine output, and G-vectoring control which minimizes need for steering corrections on the road.
The economical, roomy and safe front-wheel-drive, five-passenger, four-door car deserves more attention. Basic amenities are power door locks and exterior mirrors, four express up and down power windows, air conditioning with pollen filter, cruise control, remote keyless entry, push button start, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, rear window defogger, intermittent wipers and a sound system serving AM-FM radio plus compact disc and MP3 players, USB port and auxiliary audio input jack. Redundant audio controls are mounted on the steering wheel.
Mazda's infotainment system on the Signature has Aha, Pandora and Stitcher internet radio integration plus SMS text messaging via audio delivery and reply.
Center console, armrest and dashboard's utilize softer upgraded materials replacing the former hard plastic.
Standard features on the Signature mimic those on the Grand Touring and include leather seating surfaces, power and heated front seats with memory for the driver, eight-inch color touchscreen, an 11-speaker (instead of six) Bose sound system, SiriusXM satellite radio, navigation system, heated exterior mirrors with inset turn lamps, power moonroof, LED headlights (turn up to 15 degrees as the car travels through curves) and taillights, front fog lights, P225 radial tires mounted on 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels, rear spoiler and adaptive bi-xenon headlights, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control system and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
During the test, the 3,560-pound Signature averaged 34.6 miles per gallon in highway travel with two persons aboard. In city and suburban settings with two adults aboard, the average was 30 mpg. There are extraordinary fuel usage averages but, of course, much of that depends on road conditions, weather and the driver.
Mazda6 sedans offer a firm ride, excellent sight lines and a well-insulated quiet cabin. Mazda6 with its four-cylinder engine has been timed from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 7.6 seconds. Not bad. Braking from 60 mpg to 0 on dry pavement takes a distance of almost 130 feet which is OK but not record-setting. Brakes are discs with single calipers.
Vehicle: Signature model of Mazda6
Type: front-wheel-drive, five-passenger, four-door midsize sedan
Engine: 2.5-liter, 250-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder
Transmission: six-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel: regular (227 horsepower) and premium (250 horsepower) unleaded
Fuel tank: 16.4 gallons
Weight: 3,560 pounds
Wheel base, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 111.4, 192.7, 72.4, 57.1, 6.5 inches
Leg room: 42.2 inches front, 38.7 inches rear
Trunk: 14.7 cubic feet
Tires (P225), alloy wheels: 19-inch
Brakes: discs, 11.7-inch vented front, 10.9-inch solid rear
Suspension: struts front, multilinks rear, stabilizer bars, gas shocks, coil springs
Turn circle, curb-to-curb: 36.7 feet
Competitors: Volkswagen Passat, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Mazda6, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu
Warranty: three years or 36,000 miles with 24-hour roadside assistance, five years or 60,000 miles on powertrain