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2018 Mazda 6

The Mazda 6 is more than an ordinary mid-size family sedan. Its chiseled body and beautiful cabin could easily be confused with those of much pricier cars. Likewise, its fantastic chassis delivers a driving experience that is normally reserved for expensive sports sedans. Collectively, these traits create an extraordinary blend of upscale ambience and unsurpassed dynamics that is surprisingly affordable. Instead of offering individual options, Mazda requires buyers to look to higher trim levels in order to get the features they want. The Mazda 6 won’t win many objective comparisons with its competitors; after all, it’s not the quickest, thriftiest, or tech-savviest. But this marvelous sedan transcends the numbers and targets the senses better than its “mainstream mid-size family car” classification suggests.

What’s New for 2018?

For the third time in five model years, the Mazda 6 receives a makeover for 2018. Its most obvious updates include subtly evolved exterior styling, a refreshed interior, and an additional engine option. The 6’s new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder slots above the standard naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four, which adopts cylinder deactivation and adds slightly more horsepower and torque. While these changes are significant, Mazda took things a step further by retuning the chassis and drastically reducing interior noise levels. The lineup also welcomes a new Grand Touring Reserve trim and a top-of-the-line Signature model. The latter has rich leather, real wood trim, and a long list of desirable standard features.

What Was New for 2017?

Mazda’s clever G-Vectoring Control—an electronic method for enhancing steering response by inducing subtle load transfer to the front axle in response to steering-wheel inputs—was introduced across the entire lineup. Sport and Touring trim levels received thicker front-door glass, while the Grand Touring got even quieter acoustic laminated glass; every 6’s weather seals and sound attenuation were optimized for lower sound levels. The i-Activsense safety bundle can now detect and react to pedestrians, read traffic signs, and automatically brake from speeds of up to 99 mph. A new Premium package for the Grand Touring trim upped the 6’s already impressive luxury game with special leathers, stitching, and more.

Trims and Options We’d Choose

Previously, we chose the Mazda 6 Touring with the six-speed manual transmission and a respectable set of standard features. However, for 2018, the manual gearbox is now only available on the base Sport model. While its $22,845 starting price is enticing, Mazda eliminates any options so that all upgrades are unlocked by higher trim levels. Still, the Sport has desirable standard features such as:

• Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, low-speed forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
• Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
• 8.0-inch Mazda Connect touchscreen
• Dual-zone automatic climate control

Those who want a little more luxury should consider the Touring model ($26,595). It adds 19-inch wheels, leatherette-trimmed seats, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, passive entry, and even more active-safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. We still prefer the manually shifted Sport version, but the automatic-only Touring model is also an impressive value for this class. If you’d like your 6 with an interior that could pass for that of an Audi A4 or BMW 3-series, order up the top-spec Signature edition. It comes with upholstery in leather and faux suede, Japanese Sen wood trim, and a full load of extras—it’s gorgeous and still a reasonable $35,645.