On any given weekend, there are more Mazda powered cars on racetracks across America than vehicles from any other manufacturer.


And if that leaves you saying “So what?”….if that doesn’t at least cause you to raise an eyebrow….maybe you should stop reading now, because you’ll be missing one of Mazda’s main distinctions….they make very capable cars that are a load of fun to drive.


Mazda’s baby brother, their 3 Series, is widely acclaimed by enthusiasts to be the fun-to-drive leader in the compact car category.   And the fact that Consumer Reports lauds its’ reliability is icing on the cake.


This is the family from whence Mazda’s larger and newly-freshened 2016 6 Series has sprung.


The 6 is Mazda’s four-door mid-size family hauler…..and talk about a David vs Goliath mission, Mazda’s 6 is up against the biggest names in the business:     Accord, Altima, Camry, Chrysler’s 200, Fusion, Malibu, Optima, Sonata, Subaru’s Legacy….and I may have left out one or two.   That’s a tough neighborhood.


What’s a smaller company like Mazda to do?


Well….developing and delivering on a performance image is one way to stand out, but today design and content seem to be king.


While design is subjective, Mazda’s muscular curved fenders seem to stand out in a world of rather slab-sided competitors….and inside, it would be perfectly understandable if you confused Mazda’s Grand Touring interior with that of a Lexus.


The Mazda6 starts in the low 20’s…and for a window sticker under 26K, you can get a “Touring” Mazda 6, which’ll get you almost everything:   dual-zone air, alloys, a 6-way power drivers’ seat, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, voice-command “infotainment”, HD radio + internet radio integration for Pandora et al, smx text audio delivery and reply, rear seat heat and air vents and keyless entry.


Add another $5,200 and you’ll get everything else.   The Grand Touring gets you a moonroof, spoiler, xenon headlamps, steering wheel controls with paddle-shifters, nav, perforated heated leather with 8-way power and lumbar, an 11-speaker Bose sound system, “smart-braking” and a bit more.


Whichever trim package you chose, you’ll be powered by a 2.5 liter, 184 HP four with a 6-speed auto on all but the base trims….where you can still opt for a six-speed stick shift.


Mileage?    Darned good for a mid-sized 5-seater.   The EPA says you can get 28 city and up to 40 Highway…on regular.   I managed low 30’s in a week’s commute….and actually was able to touch that magic 40 figure…at least as indicated on the trip computer….while running in 60-65 mpg freeway traffic.


If the Mazda 6’s curves and handling don’t win you over, here’s a little more icing on the cake:   Last year the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety rated the Mazda6 a top Safety pick.

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