Friday, January 27, 2017

Mazda6 has tools to compete in crowded niche

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – The Mazda6 is a midsize sedan that offers pretty much the full range of customer-pleasing perks: style, reliability, safety, technology, comfort and affordability.

Thing is, it competes in a crowded niche with names such as Accord, Malibu and Camry.

You see the problem here.  It’s tough to stand out in a field loaded with mega-popular cars.

Nevertheless, the 2017 Mazda6 sedan does a good job of showing off what it has.  My recent tester, a 2017 Mazda6 i Grand Touring edition was a case in point.

My ride looked sophisticated and sporty wearing "Machine Gray Metallic" paint and riding on 19-inch alloy wheels.  Inside, leather seating surfaces provided a comfortable setting to enjoy a thoughtfully laid out dash and center stack of controls.

The tested Mazda6 is the loaded end of the lineup, but the starting price of $30,695 seemed like a bargain, given the generous package of standard equipment.  A GT Premium Package of options pushed the bottom line to $34,530 on the tester.

The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine was responsive enough with 184 horsepower. In freeway commutes, the Mazda6 responded with brisk sprints when asked.  It was a nimble dodger in tight city traffic.

Fuel mileage with the four-cylinder power plant was exceptional at 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.  In truth, I think I was getting a little better than that on the freeways, where the Mazda6 cruised with quiet, seemingly effortless grace.

The current-generation Mazda6 gets a top-level five stars in federal government safety ratings…no surprise looking at the long list of standard safety features.

The “lane keep assist” feature, however, was an annoyance for me, sending out needless warnings on winding roads and freeway exit ramps.  I guess you can’t have too much caution in these cases, but still, it tried my patience.

All in all, this is a B-plus car all the way, and I’m sure some devotees would grade it out with a top-of-the-line A.  Welcome to the world of car opinions, where strenuous debate is never-ending.

Again, however, the Mazda6 is lumped into the debate with some of the best-selling midsize models in California and nationwide.  I’m sure purchases often boil down to brand loyalty, and I really can’t argue with that.

But at a minimum, I’d recommend that midsize sedan shoppers at least take a test drive in the 2017 Mazda6.  You might just end up switching brands.

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