Excels at excelling

2021 Mazda 6. Metro News Service photo
2021 Mazda 6. Metro News Service photo

2021 Mazda 6 checks off a lot of boxes in competitive midsize car segment

No car is the “total package” when it comes to value versus amenities versus quality versus performance. This week’s tester is not the total package either, but it does check off many of those attributes, while leaving a few of those boxes lightly checked or unchecked altogether.

What the 2021 Mazda 6 does it does well, and what it doesn’t do well leaves a lot to be desired. Let’s first look at the long list of the boxes it checks off.

The looks are timeless. And that’s a good thing. The Mazda 6 isn’t the snazziest car on the road. It doesn’t have the boldest looks, but it does have personality and distinction. The grille is subtle with squinted attractive head lights flanking the toned-down grille. Indents from the front end continue up onto the hood and continues down the sides giving it a sleek, streamlined design. This small attention to detail really adds to the Mazda 6′s aesthetics. The back end loses some of those aesthetics with a less-than-inspiring back end that lacks any kind of excitement. As such, the overall looks of the Mazda 6 get an incomplete check mark under appearance.

Explore2021 Nissan Altima is the midsize sedan that time forgot

Generally, Mazdas tend to overperform their numbers on the sticker. And that’s the case again with this Mazda 6. But that’s mostly because my tester had the optional turbocharged 2.5-liter engine instead of the standard non-turbo. The non-turbo only makes 187 horsepower while the turbocharged version makes 227 horsepower. Here’s a little-known fact, if you put (more expensive) higher-octane fuel into a car, especially the Mazda 6, you can increase your performance. Mazda claims that the Mazda 6 can get 250 horses with higher octane fuel.

While the turbocharged 4-cylinder provides enough enthusiasm to make driving this sedan fun, the six-speed automatic transmission seems a little overmatched with some noticeable turbo lag. The midsize segment continues to wane and it’s not full of athletic, enthusiastic sedans anyway, so the Mazda 6 leads the way in that regard. Despite the outdated transmission, the Mazda 6 gets a complete checkmark when it comes to performance.

Inside, the interior feels high quality and can certainly challenge other rivals for the title of nicest cabin. The touchpoints are fantastic, and the overall legroom and headroom are great. The trunk has 14.7 cubic feet of space with a 60/40 split that can increase the overall cargo area. It’s not the largest trunk in the segment, but it’s adequate.

The one detriment to the entire interior is the technology. Sure, Mazda adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the Mazda 6 this year (what took them so long), but all of that is negated with a clunky, awkward, and frustrating infotainment system. Every single Mazda I have driven loses so many points with me because of the worst infotainment system in the automotive industry.

The base trim, Sport, has an attractive starting price under $25,000. New for the 2021 model year is a new trim called Carbon Edition. Overall, there are five trims total for the Mazda 6. My tester was the top-of-the-line Signature trim which had an MSRP of $35,750.

ExploreAccord remains relevant with Hybrid offering

The front-wheel drive Mazda 6 has an EPA rating of 23 mpg/city and 31 mpg/highway. I’d like to see those numbers a little higher as I only averaged around 25 mpg. Although I did drive heavy footed and got into that turbo a lot. I’ll always sacrifice fuel economy for fun. And the Mazda 6 has a lot of fun, more than its competitors.

Is the 2021 Mazda 6 ideal? No. But what car is? Is it competitive within a segment full of big names? Absolutely it is. As such the Mazda 6 checks off many of the boxes needed to make it viable and enjoyable.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2021 Mazda 6 Signature

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $36,795/$36,795
  • Mileage.......................................... 23 mpg/city; 31 mpg/hwy
  • Engine............................................. 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower................................. 227 hp/x310 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. Six=speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ Front-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Hofu, Japan