Test Drive: 2017 Mazda6 Grand Touring
Greg Zyla More Content Now
Entry Price: $21,945
Price as tested $34,230
This week, we test drive the popular 2017 Mazda6, a mid-size sedan that offers more for the money in three states of dress. And good looks aside, Mazda6 delivers an outstanding 35-MPG highway EPA number along with peppy performance thanks to Mazda’s always evolving Skyactiv engineering theory.
Our tester arrived in top tier Grand Touring trim, pushing the base price to $30,695 from the entry level Sport model, which starts at just $21,945 with a six-speed manual transmission. A mid-level Touring model begins at $24,195 and offers consumers an excellent mid-point to join the Mazda family unit.
New for 2017 is Skyactiv Vehicle Dynamics G-Vectoring Control. This feature allows attaining a smoother, less tiring drive according to Mazda engineers. This system automatically adjusts power delivery and cornering enhancement and although the effect is subtle, drivers who have a better feel of the road will sense it (especially when cornering).
Under the hood, all Mazda6 models come with the Skyactiv technical/mechanical combination that concentrates on strong, lightweight alloys and perfectly matched powertrain assemblies. Mazda6 features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that delivers 184 horses and 185 lb. ft. of torque. This engine mates to a fine shifting Sport mode six-speed automatic geared for both acceleration and performance.
For those who like to shift, the aforementioned six-speed manual is available in both the entry Sport and mid-line Touring models, although the Grand Touring comes only with the automatic. Not surprising anymore is the fact that the six-speed manual no longer delivers better fuel mileage, with EPA estimates of 24 city and 34 highway for the manual versus 27 city and 35 highway for the automatic.
Just about every comfort and safety convenience is standard on the Grand Touring, including dual-zone climate, heated power front seats, leather trim sport seats, rear view safety camera, Bluetooth, USB, navigation, head-up display, blind spot with cross-traffic alert, remote and push button start, alloy pedals, floor mats, Bose 11-speaker HD/stereo/SiriusXM, Mazda infotainment system, paddle shifters, power moonroof, high intensity headlamps, fog lamps and much more.
Our tester featured a $2,500 GT Premium package featuring I-Eloop regenerative engine braking, active grille shutters, accent lighting, bright finish interior trim, NAPPA leather upholstery, heated rear seats, stitched leather on steering wheel, and a black headliner. The I-Eloop (“intelligent energy loop”) improves city fuel efficiency by one MPG thanks to storing energy to a capacitor that allows air-conditioning and other accessories to work while the engine is shut down at a stop sign.
This all leads back to fuel mileage as a Mazda6 with I-Eloop delivers the noted 27 city and 35 highway with the automatic. This is a significant improvement compared to the last generation “6” that ended in 2013 where similar Mazda6 models delivered 21 and 30, respectively. Overall, Mazda engineers added five more MPG highway thanks to its Skyactiv system upgrades.
Enhanced safety features standard on Grand Touring include forward obstructive warning, smart city brake support, smart brake support, a novel traffic sign recognition system, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, traction control and much more. These modern safety enhancements unite with the safety features on every Mazda6, which include all the airbags, four wheel disc ABS, electronic brake assist, dynamic stability, traction control and more. Your Mazda dealer will gladly explain all the features of the Mazda6 when you visit, including I-Eloop and enhanced safety.
As for handling, Mazda6 Grand Touring comes with Dunlop SP Sport 5000 19-inch traction hungry tires on beautiful alloys and delivers many of the handling characteristics Mazda learns on the nation’s major road racing circuits. The car sticks extremely well in the corners and delivers a stiffer yet acceptable ride in “Sport Mode,” which is engaged by simply pressing a button. Skyactiv then automatically adjusts engine throttle response and transmission shift points resulting in the engine operating more in upper RPM ranges that affect both torque and horsepower ratings. You’ll lose a MPG or two, but the Mazda theory of having fun while you drive becomes clear, ie: its “Zoom-Zoom” factor.
Inside you’ll find an impressive dashboard design with easy to read speedometer and gauges. There’s a console controlled 7-inch color display that is cumbersome to learn but on the positive side is the stereo volume, which is controlled either by a control knob on the console or by steering wheel buttons. As for Navigation, there’s a learning curve there, too, but you’ll figure it all out. Rear legroom is quite good even for taller adults and there’s more than enough cargo room.
In addition to our GT Premium package, other options include a cargo mat for $75 and door sill plates for another $125. This brought the final tally to $34,230 with $835 delivery included.
If you can afford one of the $30,000 Grand Touring model, that’s great. However, if you start with the entry Sport model and add a few options you can park a brand new 2017 Mazda6 in your driveway for less than $25,000 retail.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 111.4 inches, 3,305 lb. curb weight, 14.8 cu. ft. of cargo space, 6.7-inch ground clearance and a 16.4 gallon fuel tank.
In summary, 2017 Mazda6 is athletic, looks great and delivers good economy. Regardless of model selection, the 2017 Mazda6 is a frontrunner in the mid-size division.
Likes: Fuel mileage, Skyactiv technology, great looks, enhanced safety.
Dislikes: Stereo/NAV learning curve, some interior wind noise, engine noisy.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at email@example.com.