2016 Mazda6 Touring

As I have stated on multiple occasions, when it comes to midsize sedans, the Mazda6 is hands-down the car with the best exterior design. (OK, the Kia Optima is well done, as well, but it is getting a little old in the showroom, having been introduced in model year 2011, while this version of the Mazda6 first appeared in the U.S. market as a model year 2014 car.) And as it is a sporty-looking sedan, the interior is designed with sufficient sportiness, as well (e.g., the front bucket seats are bun-cossetting; the gauges are in a pilot-like pod). But this is a car that is fitted with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, and in this case a six-speed automatic (there is a six-speed manual, as well), so it is more oriented toward less-frequent trips to the gas station than head-snapping acceleration, although moving around town or on the freeway you won’t feel like a three-legged dog among greyhounds.

As I have stated on multiple occasions, when it comes to midsize sedans, the Mazda6 is hands-down the car with the best exterior design. (OK, the Kia Optima is well done, as well, but it is getting a little old in the showroom, having been introduced in model year 2011, while this version of the Mazda6 first appeared in the U.S. market as a model year 2014 car.)

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And as it is a sporty-looking sedan, the interior is designed with sufficient sportiness, as well (e.g., the front bucket seats are bun-cossetting; the gauges are in a pilot-like pod).

But this is a car that is fitted with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, and in this case a six-speed automatic (there is a six-speed manual, as well), so it is more oriented toward less-frequent trips to the gas station than head-snapping acceleration, although moving around town or on the freeway you won’t feel like a three-legged dog among greyhounds.

Given the long-hood design, there is a truncated deck lid (a.k.a., trunk), but the trunk itself is sufficiently capacious for swallowing all manner of stuff.

There is an impressive array of standard interior features, like a rearview camera, keyless entry, pushbutton start, blind-spot monitoring system, and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

There is a 7-in. color touch-screen display and a knurled knob on the center console for clear, simple selection of things on that screen.

So what’s not to like?

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This is an admitted quibble of mine, so you can simply stop now.

But it seems to me that when you offer a 7-in. color touch-screen display, if nothing else, that display ought to be displaying navigation information.

The Touring model that I’m talking about here is the mid-grade offering, not the entry vehicle. But you have to go up to the Grand Touring to get navigation.

Think about this for a minute. You can go to Costco and get a Garmin with map updates and real-time (more or less) traffic info for a couple hundred bucks. You can download Google Maps on your phone and buy one of those suction-cup phone holders and get navigation that way.

So wouldn’t it be the case that if you’re selling a car—heck, I don’t care if we’re talking a Mazda0, were there such a screen—that has a built-in screen, it ought to come with navigation.

Car companies are concerned with attracting young people and yet they’re pulling this? (NOTE: Mazda is not alone in this practice, not by a long shot.)

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I took a road trip with the Mazda6 to a place I had never been to before. And I had to avail myself of my Garmin stuck on the windshield. It spoiled my experience with the car.

So I guess I could say that if you’re always likely to know where you’re going, or if you don’t mind having a really well executed car (inside and out) and having to use your phone or carry-in navigation system or you happen to want to make the most of your AAA membership and so get TripTiks and maps, then this may not bother you.

But in my estimation, some product planner at Mazda really ought to rethink this approach because I’m guessing that when that new  Chevrolet Malibu comes out with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the game is going to be a different one.

Selected specs

Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC, DI I4

Material: Aluminum block and head

Horsepower: 184 @ 5,700 rpm

Torque: 185 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Steering: Electric power assist rack-and-pinion

Wheelbase: 111.4 in.

Length: 192.7 in.

Width 72.4 in.

Height: 57.1 in.

Cargo volume: 14.8 cu. ft.

Curb weight: 3,232 lb.

EPA fuel economy: city/highway/combined: 26/38/31 mpg