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#7

in 2010 Affordable Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $9,878 - $14,382
Original MSRP: $18,600 - $28,540
MPG: 20 City / 29 Hwy
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2010 Mazda Mazda6 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2010 Mazda6 is a sporty handler for a family car. It is available with a four-cylinder engine that moves the car with some energy -- a four-cylinder Madza6 feels more powerful than four-cylinder models from other automakers, even though, on paper, the engine isn't more powerful than what most rivals have to offer.

But the available V6 is the real power performer. Unfortunately, the new Mazda6 isn't among the class leaders in fuel economy, which factors into more buying decisions today than ever before. 

  • "Plenty of pep If, like me, you like a sporty car but are worried that gasoline prices may soar again, stick with the four-cylinder engine in the Mazda6. I test-drove that version of the car with a stick shift and found its performance more than adequate for a family sedan. The V6 version of the Mazda6, which accelerates from zero to 60 in 6.2 seconds, seems like overkill." -- BusinessWeek
  • "On the road, the Mazda6 makes no attempt to hide its sporty backbone. This isn't another soulless method of basic transportation, but one of the more spirited offerings in a sea of bland family haulers." -- Motor Trend
  • "Mission accomplished. Steering is light and alive, yet it grooves in on straight-ahead when the path calls for it. Slack has been zeroed out of brake-pedal motion. Ride is well controlled without being harsh." -- Car and Driver
  • "Going bigger and heavier didn't affect this car's zip or nimble driving characteristics one bit. It remains closer to a sport sedan than any of its competitors." -- Popular Mechanics

Acceleration and Power

The 2010 Mazda6 is available with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 170 horsepower. That is a typical power figure for a four-cylinder family sedan, yet reviewers say Mazda's engine is tuned for a sportier response than most. The four-cylinder Mazda6, for instace, puts out just one horsepower more than the four-cylinder Toyota Camry, yet feels much quicker off the line.

Most reviewers, however, have driven its larger engine choice, a 272-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 that makes it one of the fastest cars in this class. Mazda wins points with enthusiasts by offering a six-speed manual transmission with the four-cylinder, but loses points for selling the big V6 with only a six-speed auto. Four-cylinder models can be purchased with a five-speed automatic gearbox as well.

According to the EPA, a four-cylinder Mazda6 should manage 21 mpg in city driving, and 30 on the highway, while a six-cylinder edition earns a 17/25 mpg rating. A simple push of a button turns the dashboard clock into a real-time mpg display, allowing drivers to track thier consumption and alter their driving style accordingly -- but turning it on turns off the dashboard clock.

  • "Spent a day driving all three powertrain combinations and rather fancied the four-cylinder manual model. It was the lightest and most nimble, and the manual transmission allowed us to get the most out of the chassis." -- AutoWeek
  • "I was impressed with the performance/operation of the six-speed manual. This is one of those gearboxes you use teach others to drive a manual transmission. The shifts are quick, with no slop, no balking and no fumbling to find a gear. Acceleration felt as strong as some recent small V-6 engine cars that I tested." -- Chicago Sun-Times
  • "Where the 2.5-liter four feels pretty peppy out on the road, the 272-hp V-6 is downright intoxicating." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "Enthusiasts take note: The only way you'll get to row your own gears in the Mazda6 is by sticking with the smooth, rev-happy four-banger. This isn't a gearbox to be missed." -- Motor Trend  
  • "The 4-cylinder is peppy from a stop and adequate during highway passing maneuvers. It only feels stressed on long hill climbs. The V6 furnishes ample power both around town and on the highway. Both automatics are smooth and responsive. The manual shifts precisely, but some of the throws--namely second gear to third gear--feel a bit long." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The new engine tops the old 156 horsepower four-cylinder in not only power but also smoothness. Advanced features include chain-driven dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, counter-rotating balance shafts located in the oil pan and aluminum block and head construction to save weight." -- Chicago Sun-Times

Handling and Braking

The Mazda6 is bigger and heavier than the model it replaces, but The New York Times says, "As you push it on curves, the weight seems to melt away." The car's handling impresses almost every reviewer. Its brakes get the job done but don't seem to elicit much reviewer comment.

  • "Everything about the Mazda6 seemed lively to me. The steering required little effort but provided a fair amount of feedback to the driver. The car's body felt taut, and double wishbone independent front suspension did a very good job of smoothing out bumpy roads." -- BusinessWeek
  • "The Mazda6's suspension soaked up the bumps and cracks of the washboard that is Interstate 580 -- a road that rattles even small crossovers -- in Oakland, Calif. The ride was smooth and quiet allowing the optional Bose premium audio system to shine." -- CNET
  • "The car feels more substantial, smoothing out the bumps like a Cadillac or an Infiniti. The only midprice sedans that could even pretend to have comparable handling abilities are the Altima and the Volkswagen Passat." -- New York Times
  • "It proves eager and quick to turn in, giving the car a somewhat crisp feel in fast lane changes and on curved freeway on-ramps." -- Motor Trend
  • "The suspension absorbs bumps well and holds the 6 flat and stable through fast curves." -- Detroit Free Press

Next Steps: 2010 Mazda Mazda6

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