2010 Mazda6 Touring PlusPosted on February 12th, 2010
Five-passenger sport sedan is an ALV best value
Considering all it has to offer, it’s surprising that there isn’t more of a buzz about the Mazda6. The mid-sized sport sedan combines outstanding ride and handling, seating for up to five passengers, a high level of comfort, convenience and safety features, with pricing that starts under $20,000.
Mazda introduced the current iteration of the Mazda6 for the 2009 model year. This year, the automaker combines some popular comfort and convenient features such as Bluetooth interface, blind spot monitoring, and a power moonroof in a Touring Plus model.
Buyers can choose from two engines: an inline four-cylinder block in the Mazda6i, or a V-6 in the Mazda6s. The test car comes with the 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a five-speed automatic transmission. Base price for the Touring Plus model is $23,750, not including a $750 destination fee.
Four-cylinder engine with the power of a V-6
Large four-cylinder engines can have two problems: vibration and lack of torque. Vibration is fairly easy to fix with the addition of balance shafts. Torque is more of a challenge. Engineers may try to compensate for the lack of low-end power with more aggressive shifting. The downside to that strategy is shift shock. Anemic performance at altitude is another problem.
Always being one to jump into the fire feet first, I decided to see how the sedan’s four-cylinder engine would perform on a drive through the Arizona mountains. If the test car hadn’t come with a Monroney sticker, I’d have sworn I was driving a six-cylinder model.
The engine develops peak torque of 167 lbs.-ft. at 4000 rpm: well below the 5000 rpm shift point. The fact that the car is also relatively light helps too. Curb weight is about 3300 pounds.
Engineers used a timing chain in lieu of a belt, saving buyers an expensive repair at about 60,000 miles. While some chain drives can be noisy, this one is not. The cabin is extremely quiet, making it easy for both rows of passengers to converse.
The sedan soars through corkscrew turns with the ease of a well-oiled sprinter. The transmission shifts smoothly, with a minimum of shift shock. Driving enthusiasts can manually select gears using the gate shifter.
Engineers imbued the Mazda6 with similar steering response to the automaker’s RX-8 and MX-5 sports cars. The sedan’s wide track and low center of gravity enhance on-center response at speed.
Front and rear stabilizer bars keep the chassis level. Seventeen-inch wheels and tires give the car an ample footprint, boosting its stability through the corners as well as braking.
Blind spot monitoring is a technology pioneered by Volvo in conjunction with Ford. It’s an invaluable feature for drivers who commute through thick urban traffic. When cars move into the vehicle’s blind spots, LEDs illuminate in the side mirrors to warn the driver. I find the feature especially helpful when merging onto a freeway, since it can be difficult to see cars changing lanes to exit.
The sedan’s standard cloth interior is attractive and more practical than leather for people living in temperature extremes. The cloth is also easier to clean, for drivers who use their cars as transportation to the trailhead.
Power adjustments on the driver’s seat should work for people of most sizes. A tilt and telescoping steering wheel allows smaller drivers to maintain a safe distance from the front airbag, and a clear forward view. The standard dead pedal eases leg fatigue on long drives.
Redundant audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction. As a smaller driver, I appreciate the fact that designers got the steering wheel diameter just right.
Red-on-black gauges are easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions. Audio and temperature controls on the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position. A digital display at the top of the center stack includes audio settings and a distance-to-empty meter. Both front passengers have access to bottle holders in the doors, cupholders in the center console, a 12-volt outlet and USB port. A locking glovebox provides secure storage.
The standard audio system includes an AM/FM/CD player with MP3 compatibility and satellite radio wiring. A satellite radio package on the test car costs $430.
Because of the rear floor tunnel, legroom is limited in the center position. Outboard passengers should find ample leg, head and hip room. The power moonroof that comes with the touring package brings plenty of ambient light into the car.
Second-row seats fold flat in a 60/40 pattern to extend the cargo floor. While sedans aren’t as practical for carrying bicycles as crossover or sport-utility vehicles, a person could probably squeeze a road bike with the wheels removed inside the trunk.
All models come with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction and stability control. Mazda’s 3 year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty includes 24-hour roadside assistance.
The 2010 Mazda6 is on display at dealerships nationwide.
Likes: A value-priced sport sedan with excellent power, steering response, ride and handling.
Dislikes: Floor tunnel limits legroom in the center rear position.
Model: Mazda6i Touring Plus
Base price: $23,750
As tested: $25,030
Horsepower: 170 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 167 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 21/30 mpg
2 responses to “2010 Mazda6 Touring Plus”
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expensive repairs August 12th, 2010 at 02:34
alternator broke down as well as computer and they want 1300. Can’t afford it so they’re keeping my car until I pay. Don’t buy mazda 6 or any mazda – they’re not a toyota/honda
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