in 2012 Affordable Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $12,923 - $17,962
Original MSRP: $20,480 - $29,810
MPG: 21 City / 30 Hwy
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2012 Mazda Mazda6 Performance

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

Test drivers think the 2012 Mazda6’s lively handling makes it one of the most fun-to-drive cars in the class. They like its strong brakes and precise steering, which unlike many other midsize sedans, actually gives some feedback to the driver. They do note that straight-line performance on four-cylinder models is rather disappointing, though six-cylinder models are peppy. Manual transmissions aren’t that common anymore on affordable midsize cars, so test drivers love that the base Mazda6 has one.

  • "With the 6, it's clear that importance was placed on creating an involving driving experience. It offers one of the best driving positions in the segment, with relatively high seat placement that gives you an expansive view of the road." -- Edmunds
  • "This, in the final appraisal, is a mid-size sedan with sporting ambitions, while prior to this iteration's 2009 intro the Mazda6 was closer to a sport sedan with mid-size ambitions." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "But what we like most about the Mazda 6 is its driving dynamics. Underway, it delivers sparkling performance, offering a terrific driving experience among the midsize sedans." -- New Car Test Drive

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Mazda6 is available with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower. The four-cylinder engine is criticized by reviewers for being a little slow off the line and somewhat loud, though the standard six-speed manual transmission is praised for its precise throws. A five-speed automatic with manual mode is also available.

Most test drivers prefer the optional 272-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine. Reviewers are disappointed, however, that this engine is only offered with a six-speed automatic transmission. An automatic is pretty common among midsize cars with a V6 engine though.

According to the EPA, four-cylinder Mazda6’s should manage 21 mpg in city driving, and 30 on the highway (22/31 with the optional five-speed automatic), while six-cylinder models earn 18/27 mpg city/highway.

  • "While we still have a manual in a mid-size, volume-targeted sedan, it shall be celebrated. And in an era of distracted driving, a component that demands a driver's undivided attention can't be a bad thing, can it? Happily, not only does Mazda still provide the ability to shift manually, but they equip their 6-speed manual with one of the very best linkages. Go forth and shift!" -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Acceleration is incredibly fast; you'll never feel like you've been left behind in the dust in this car."--Automobile.com (on the Mazda6’s V6 engine)
  • "The 4-cylinder is not the most refined in this class, exhibiting some whine under full-throttle acceleration." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Most drivers will find the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder to be a suitable match, but those who want gutsier performance will find that the higher Mazda 6 s trim levels offer a significant increase in power as well as improved handling with wider tires. Unfortunately, this added performance is tempered by a transmission that is slow to react in both automatic and manual modes." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Reviewers appreciate the Mazda6’s lively handling. They say it is one of the most engaging and fun-to-drive cars in its class.

  • "The Mazda6 leans toward the fun end of the spectrum, while maintaining a good ride quality." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The 2012 Mazda 6 stands apart from most other family sedans on the strength of its nimble handling. It enters curves more confidently than the Honda Accord, and ranks almost as highly on the fun-to-drive meter as the class-leading Nissan Altima. Its athletic demeanor comes with a ride quality that can be a bit taut, however, and road noise is also more prominent. Still, neither is particularly bothersome, even when riding on the big 18-inch wheels." -- Edmunds
  • "The brakes deliver strong, steady stopping power." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Although handling can seem a little tight, it's a small price to pay for the generally smooth and enjoyable experience of driving this car." -- Automobile.com

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