2018 Mazda6 First Look: Mazda’s Midsizer Gets a Refresh and a New Engine

When Mazda introduced the redesigned Mazda6 for 2014, the car impressed us with its attractive design, sporty handling, and premium interior. It also managed to beat out the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry in our comparison test. “The Mazda imparts a sense of gracefulness and driver-connectedness that is deficient in the others,” we said at the time. But the midsize sedan segment is seriously competitive. The latest Toyota Camry is much better than the previous one, and the new Honda Accord is even better than the Camry. To keep up, Mazda has given the 6 an update for 2018.

As you can see, the Mazda6 looks pretty much the same on the outside. The front end has been subtly restyled, but unless the new car is parked next to the old one, we doubt most people will notice. Instead, Mazda put its effort into updating the 6’s interior. Only the steering wheel and a few small trim pieces carry over. All trim levels get refreshed, but there’s also a new top-end Signature trim level. Mazda says it gives the cabin a true luxury feel, with wood trim, premium leather, and artificial suede covering most surfaces. The updated Mazda6 also gets new, more comfortable seats and updated technology, such as a 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, and a larger infotainment display screen.

Under the hood, Mazda made another big change. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine carries over, but for the first time, Mazda will offer the 6 with a turbocharged engine borrowed from the CX-9. On premium fuel, the 2.5-liter turbo makes 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. That should make it significantly quicker than the naturally aspirated version with its 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. In our last test, the Mazda6 posted an unremarkable 0–60 time of 7.9 seconds, so the added acceleration will be much appreciated. For comparison, the 2.0-liter turbocharged Honda Accord hits 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, and the V-6 Camry does it in 5.8.

Like the 2018 Mazda CX-5, the new Mazda6 features cylinder deactivation. A centrifugal pendulum is used in the torque converter of the six-speed automatic transmission to balance out vibrations that might normally be felt from running on two cylinders. That six-speed auto is standard with the 2.5 turbo engine, though there’s no mention of a manual option. Mazda says it will continue to offer a six-speed manual with the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter, however.

To handle the extra power of the turbo and help push the 6 upmarket, Mazda says it’s also improved the chassis and the suspension. Expect the car to be quieter, more refined, and more comfortable on the road. But the refreshed Mazda6 hasn’t abandoned its sporty roots, either. It also reportedly handles better than before and offers more responsive steering.

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