- Distinctive exterior design with highly detailed interior.
- Stellar safety ratings and standard driver assistance tech.
- Sharp handling and steering.
- Refined and potent optional turbocharged engine.
- Interior isn't as spacious as other midsize sedans.
- Infotainment system is dated.
- Standard engine lacks power of some rivals.
- No all-wheel-drive option for either engine.
Vehicle Type: A four-door, five-seat midsize sedan.
Price Range: From $25,045 MSRP to $36,345 MSRP, including a $945 destination charge.
Powertrain: A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, with a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive.
A turbocharged, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque is available, with a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel-drive.
The Mazda6 represents an offbeat choice among midsize sedans. That doesn't mean it doesn't do midsize sedan duties well, however -- far from it. But while accomplishing what its rivals do, it adds an extra dose of style and driving fun that's unexpected in the class. Throw in a generous equipment roster, powerful optional turbocharged engine, high-end interior materials, and sharp athletics, and the Mazda6 is an unexpected gem in a competitive class.
Rivals for the Mazda6 are the Buick Regal Sportback, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, Subaru Outback, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat, Kia Stinger, Acura TLX, and Volkswagen Arteon.
After receiving some refinements for 2019 that included making numerous driver assistance technology features standard on all models, the only change for 2020 is a new remote key fob for the top-tier Mazda6 Signature model.
The 2020 Mazda6 is available in five trim levels and two engines: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature.
Overall Score: 7.2/10
Safety Features: 8/10
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2020 Mazda6 its Top Safety Pick Plus award, the agency's highest honor. It scored highly in every crash test, with the top Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models receiving top scores for headlight performance and other models earning the second-highest award. Crash prevention earned the highest 'Superior' rating, and pedestrian detection scored the second-highest 'Advanced' rating. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration gave the Mazda6 five stars in overall testing, the highest score.
All models come with adaptive cruise control, with stop and go function, full-speed automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams. Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models get adaptive LED headlights, too. The Signature trim is the only model with parking sensors, although others offer it as a dealer-installed accessory.
The base Sport model kicks off at just over $25,000 and includes a wealth of driver assistance features, as well as 17-inch alloy wheels, auto-leveling headlights, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Touring models for about $2,500 more get 19-inch wheels, a power sunroof, and leatherette upholstery, while many rivals still use cloth upholstery and smaller wheels at this price. For about $31,000, however, the Grand Touring comes with the more powerful, 250-horsepower turbocharged engine, as well as auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors and satellite radio. That's a relative bargain when one considers a similarly priced Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, or Toyota Camry will have a less powerful engine.
Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models come lavishly equipped with ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, higher-quality Nappa leather upholstery, and the Signature gets real wood trim. While nearly $37,000 is a lot to pay for a Mazda6, it compares favorably to a similarly equipped Buick Regal Sportback, Kia Stinger, Volkswagen Arteon, or even a compact luxury car such as an Acura TLX.
Tech Features: 6/10
All models use an 8-inch screen for the infotainment system using the previous-generation MazdaConnect system. Unlike the infotainment setup in the Mazda3 and CX-30, the Mazda6's system incorporates both a touchscreen and a console-mounted wheel selector. Only the base Sport version does without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, but it's standard on all other models. Touring and higher trims also include two USB charging ports for rear passengers, but no version comes with built-in navigation, and it's only available as a dealer-installed accessory.
The infotainment system itself looks archaic and has a basic-looking map for navigation functions. Using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto also shows off the relatively low resolution of the screen. But the system itself is slow to process, and matters aren't helped by the way the menus are laid out, forcing lots of scrolling with the console-mounted wheel. Touchscreen functionality is only available when the car is stopped and in Park. Nearly all of the Mazda's rivals are more advanced in this regard, and even less expensive Mazdas with the company's latest system perform better.
The Mazda6 is on the shorter side in terms of length compared to midsize sedans today, and it's most evident in the interior. The headroom is noticeably less than in competitors like the upright Subaru Legacy due to its sloping roofline. Rear-seat passengers get hit with both less headroom and legroom than in some rivals. Four adults should be okay in the Mazda, but five will be more of a squeeze than in a Hyundai Sonata, for example. At least the IIHS stated the Mazda6's LATCH connectors for child seats in the rear were easy to find, and the doors open wide enough for loading children. But kids may have a more challenging time seeing out thanks to smaller windows than in something like the VW Passat.
At 14.7 cubic feet, the Mazda6's trunk is also off the pace for the class. While 60/40 split-folding seats come standard, the space left with them up is 0.4 cubic feet behind the somewhat pokey Subaru Legacy and Toyota Camry, and less than the 16 to 17 cubic feet that's the midsize sedan norm. And it's way off of the 31.5 cubic feet offered by the hatchback-style Buick Regal, which can be expanded to an SUV-like 61 cubic feet with its rear seat folded down.
Styling & Design: 8/10
While nearly all midsize sedans in the last decade have been experimenting with more adventurous designs than the bland, boxy shapes of old, the Mazda6 has sported the same profile since it arrived in 2014. That's far from a bad thing, though, as it remains one of the sleekest sedan designs at nearly any price. Detail changes over the years have added a more striking grille design and various other add-ons, but the essence has been left unblemished. Base Sport models use 17-inch wheels, while all others get 19s to take advantage of the large wheel arches.
Interior quality is exceptionally high in places, average in others. The cloth upholstery on the Sport model is relatively mundane, and the synthetic leatherette in Touring and Grand Touring cars isn't the most convincing imitation for real leather ever. Still, it's nicely stitched, and an upgrade from the fabric most rivals offer for around $30,000. Grand Touring Reserve cars get actual leather upholstery that's high quality. But the Signature gets luxurious Nappa leather upholstery and faux-suede inserts on the dashboard and headliner, as well as real wood on the dashboard and the doors. None of Mazda's competitors can top that. Unfortunately, some of the plastics on the lower console and door panels feel more befitting a $20,000 car than a $35,000 one.
Storage space is another area where the Mazda is merely average. While it doesn't lack space, the door pockets aren't exactly spacious, and there are just two cupholders up front for odds and ends, but nowhere specific to devote to keys or a phone or a wallet, and the storage under the console isn't generous. Only the Signature model gets a sunglasses holder.
Driving Experience: 8/10
The Mazda6's calling card is the way it drives. The athletic exterior design is not let down by its on-road performance. Steering is direct, handling is responsive, and not at the expense of ride comfort, either. Since its introduction in 2014, Mazda has continuously refined the car to make its interior quieter, too. While it's not as serene as a Toyota Camry, the Mazda6 is hardly loud inside. The Mazda6's slimmer exterior dimensions also help in this regard, and it invokes a sports sedan-like feeling more than any midsize car, and about as well as the more expensive Arteon and Stinger.
The fly in the driving experience ointment on the Mazda6 is the standard engine. The 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder isn't as flexible as the smaller turbocharged engines on vehicles such as the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Kia Optima, or even the less-powerful VW Passat. The 6-speed automatic transmission, the only choice, is well-matched to the engine, but eight, nine, or 10-speed transmissions on models such as the Buick Regal can be more responsive.
By contrast, the 250-horsepower turbo four-cylinder on Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature cars is smoother and makes acceleration nearly effortless -- even if it's somewhat of a stretch to call it quick like a V6-powered Toyota Camry. But it's enormous 310 lb-ft of torque makes it very flexible. All-wheel-drive, as offered on the Camry, Fusion, Regal, Nissan Altima, and standard on the Subaru Legacy would make the Mazda more secure. But it manages its power well thanks to a special program to braking while cornering and minimize wheelspin.
Fuel Efficiency: 8/10
The 2020 Mazda6 with the 2.5-liter base engine is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 29 combined. The turbocharged models are rated at 23 mpg city, 31 highway, and 26 combined.
The Ford Fusion 1.5 turbo, Kia Optima 2.4-liter, and all versions of the VW Passat are rated slightly lower than the 2.5-liter Mazda6. Turbocharged versions of the Mazda get comparable economy figures to the Honda Accord with its larger, 2.0-liter turbo engine and the more powerful Toyota Camry V6. However, the Nissan Altima, with its optional turbocharged engine, is rated at three mpg combined higher than the Mazda6 turbo models.
However, the Mazda also can't compete with several models that now offer hybrid or plug-in hybrid variants. The Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, and Toyota Camry all give customers the option of some electrification. In the case of Ford, Honda, and Toyota, the price difference is easily offset by the fuel economy gains.
What’s it Going to Cost Me?
The 2020 Mazda6's pricing starts from $25,045 MSRP, including the $945 destination charge, and goes up to $36,345 MSRP. There are five trim levels for the 2020 Mazda6: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature. The only options on all trim levels are extra-cost exterior paint colors.
The Mazda6 Sport starts from $25,045 MSRP. It includes the 187-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, LED headlights with auto-leveling, LED taillights, auto on/off headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, height-adjustable driver and front passenger's seats, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth streaming audio and phone connectivity, steering wheel-mounted audio and phone controls, USB input, and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with tethering capability for internet radio.
Standard driver assistance technology features are adaptive cruise control with stop and go function, full-speed automatic emergency braking with forward-collision warning, low-speed pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beam assist.
The Mazda6 Touring starts with a $27,645 MSRP. It adds to the Sport's equipment with 19-inch alloy wheels, a power moonroof, leatherette upholstery, a six-way power driver's seat, manual lumbar adjustment, heated front seats, two additional USB charging ports for rear passengers, keyless entry, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
The Mazda6 Grand Touring starts from $30,745 MSRP. The Grand Touring includes the 250-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder, heated exterior side mirrors with an auto-dimming driver's side mirror, auto-dimming rearview mirror, universal garage door opener, leather-wrapped steering wheel with shift paddles, and an 11-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio compatibility.
The Mazda6 Grand Touring Reserve starts from $33,245 MSRP. It adds features such as silver-finished 19-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, power-folding exterior side mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver's seat with power-adjustable lumbar support and memory settings, a six-way power front passenger's seat, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, head-up display, and adaptive LED headlights.
The Mazda6 Signature is the top-level model and starts from $36,345 MSRP. On top of the Grand Touring Reserve's features, the Signature includes a gunmetal finish for the grille, frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED interior lighting, overhead console with a sunglasses holder, Nappa leather upholstery, wood inserts for the door panels and dashboard, synthetic suede headliner and dashboard inserts, 7-inch LCD readout for the instrument panel, traffic sign recognition, 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, and SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link with a three-year subscription.