On a recent trip to Northern New Jersey, I had some quality time with the Mazda 6. The one that was provided to me came in a unique color called “Blue Reflex”. Combined with the almond leather interior and the 19” wheels, this was a handsome car to have for a week. The car fit right in amongst the high end cars you might find in the parking lots of Bergen County.
The Mazda 6’s 2.5 liter 4 cylinder SKYACTIV engine produces 184 hp and 185 lb. feet of torque with a 6 speed automatic transmission. Equipped with the technology package, which includes active grill shutters and i-eloop regenerative braking, the Mazda 6 is a fuel sipper achieving an EPA rated 28 mpg city/40 mpg highway. Combined fuel economy rating is 32 mpg. No need to fill up with premium. This baby takes regular.
Driving from Newark International Airport to Englewood along the New Jersey Turnpike and I-95, the Mazda 6 felt solid, even as it was surrounded by the myriad of trucks that travel this busy stretch of highway. The car has achieved an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating. Heated seats were a welcome reward after a cross-country flight and Sirius satellite radio provided endless entertainment while sitting in traffic.
Throughout my seat time in the Mazda 6, I never felt like I needed more power. The SKYACTIV engine provided more than enough power for suburban New Jersey including climbing some of the large hills in Alpine and Saddle River. Handling was responsive and the steering was tight and communicative. This is far different from some of the competitors in the mid-size sedan class that the Mazda 6 plays in. There is sport mode and when pressed, the engine revs higher and the car feels like it wants to play. Of course, like any car in sport mode, you can throw fuel efficiency out the door.
Now that I’ve mentioned fuel efficiency – The Mazda 6 can easily achieve its combined fuel economy number of 32 mpg. On the highway, I observed in one instance an average of 45 mpg, though take that with a grain of salt since the highway speed was relatively low at between 45 and 50 mph. The speed limits in northern New Jersey are tightly controlled and patrolled. That being said, on other trips with normal highway speeds, 40 mpg is attainable. In New Jersey, though, if you are traveling on highways with periodic tolls, expect 36 – 38 mpg.
Perhaps, the one gripe that I had was the touch screen navigation and infotainment system. It worked well and had an Audi MMI/ BMW i-Drive type interface, though the screen was small. That being said, you could probably find something negative about any manufacturer’s navigation/infotainment system.
A fully equipped Mazda 6 Grand Touring that I had will set you back $32, 570. That is a really good deal considering what you are getting. If you opt for a base Mazda 6, the MSRP starts at $20,990. If you are looking for a mid-size sedan, the Mazda 6 should be on your list. Don’t let this fuel efficient stunner pass you by.
Walter Wang is Managing Editor of CleanTechies. Follow Walter on Twitter: @energytaxprof