Mazda’s 2019 Mazda6:
The Junior Executive*
*Or Mayor of South Bend – ed.
IT’S NOT MY FIRST MAZDA6: The last time I drove a Mazda6 was in 2017, logging 1,300 miles driving from San Francisco to Portland, OR and back. One of the greatest solo road trips to date, and made better thanks to the Mazda6; it was fuel-efficient, fun when needed, and – most of all given the trip’s duration – it was comfortable! A few years later I’m again testing the Mazda6 Signature, with an 800-mile road trip to see what Mazda has improved for 2019.
EXTERIOR: Mazda redesigned both the Mazda3 and Mazda6 for 2019. The lines on the 2019 Mazda6 go with the flow the car’s profile, ending in sharp edges. With the end of the crossover craze well beyond the horizon, it’s refreshing to see a midsize sedan that isn’t trying to be confrontational. The Mazda6 doesn’t have a huge gaping mouth, and its headlights, while sharp and narrow, aren’t trying to express post-adolescent anger. Instead, the 2019 Mazda6 looks like it knows exactly what it’s about, and not trying to be anything more than what it is – a nice looking sedan.
The 2019 Mazda6 in this review sported a Machine Gray Metallic exterior paint, and it does look like a shiny machine. However, according to Mazda.com Machine Gray Metallic is a $300 additional charge, and this is for a color that is basically parking lot camouflage. In fact, three out of the five colors offered for the Mazda6 come with an extra charge; Deep Crystal Blue and Jet Black are free (again, according to Mazda.com).
INTERIOR: The 2019 Mazda6 is offered in 5 different trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature. The 2019 Mazda6 used for this road test was the top of the pyramid spec Signature trim, and I had 800 miles to get familiar with its interior.
Inside, the white Nappa leather-trimmed interior boasts some of the most comfortable sport seats I’ve tested all year. Lexus is my number one choice for best interior comfort, but Mazda’s new interior is competitive. I drove the Mazda6 for hours, sitting in rush hour traffic in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio; never once did I feel fatigued. These seats feel tailored to your spine, a lounge chair with a steering wheel in front of it.
Rear seating offers plenty of space to seat two, without front passengers feeling guilty for moving their seat backwards. The trunk space can hold a full-size rolling suitcase and a 195lb man with room to spare. If that sounds specific it’s because I tried it out. It’s a huge trunk in the 2019 Mazda6!
And it looks sharp. The Mazda6 exudes the confidence of someone who just purchased a new expensive outfit, strutting down the boardwalk under ideal lighting. It catches your attention, and that’s the idea. It speaks of upper management and a newly created 401K. The Mazda6 Signature is the car for the junior executive who can finally trade up to better show his or her new tax bracket.
PERFORMANCE: The base engine offered in the 2019 Mazda6 is a SKYACTIV 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine making 187 horsepower. Higher trim levels up the power to 227horspower, thanks to a turbocharger in the same 2.5-liter engine. Sport mode doesn’t make a real difference, apart from allowing the car to rev higher before changing gears. You also have the ability to control shift points, thanks to the Mazda’s paddle shifters. Given its refinement, the 2019 Mazda6 doesn’t feel fast, but it is quick. You’ll have no trouble overtaking anybody on the Interstate or make the yellow light, but it won’t give you a blood lust for street racing. This sedan is built to deliver style in comfort.
Steering is too electronically vague, and so is the throttle. It doesn’t feel like I’m driving the car, but instead, just controlling it. Acceleration is acceptable for what the Mazda6 will be used for. I had to take plenty of notes for this review, because otherwise I would have forgotten that I tested this car at all.
Gas mileage was excellent, given an efficient engine and small gas tank. You’ll average nearly 30 mpg and fill up with less than 30 bucks if gas is cheap that week. The 2019 Mazda6 starts at $24K for the Sport model, with the Signature trim starting at $35K. The MSRP on the Mazda6 Signature used for this review is $36,520.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Mazda has always been associated with fun to drive. Remember Zoom Zoom? I do. I was only a kid, but I remember those commercials well. The last time I drove a Mazda6 the motto at the time was “driving matters”, and I loved that! Mazda’s latest slogan is “Feel Alive”, and I’m sorry to say that the 2019 Mazda6, for however comfortable and contemporary, doesn’t feel alive. I have the feeling that Mazda has started to follow the crowd rather than establishing its own identity.
The Mazda6 is a comfortable car that doesn’t leave a lasting impression, a growing trend in modern vehicles. I was saddened to find out how unremarkable the driving experience was in the Mazda6. This car is comfortable enough to Cannonball across the country, but what is the point if I forget the experience the minute I step out of the car?
I saw a lot of my friends in this car. Friends who are near 30, in serious relationships with conversations that involve words like mortgage, insurance, and diamonds. It’s easy to go the gloom-and-doom route when writing about transitioning from youth to adulthood, but the Mazda6 does not fall into that cliché. The Mazda6, instead, celebrates it by being a sedan that represents optimism for whatever the future awaits.
Although there are other options, with more luxury and performance, the Mazda6 gives you more than a whiff of premium at a regular price. You can have white heated leather seats, sunroof, Bose stereo and a trunk big enough to move a studio apartment, and pay under $40 grand. It may lack the spirit of its MX-5 Miata sibling, but Mazda’s big 4-door makes up for it by being one of the most comfortable cars I’ve ever driven across Texas.