Vehicle Overview
Mazda introduced a brand-new sedan in 2003 to replace its 626 model. Expected to rival European cars in ride and handling, the Mazda6 was built on an all-new platform. Developers used competitive models as benchmarks, including the BMW 3 Series, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

The Mazda6 is available in sedan, hatchback and wagon body styles. Buyers get a choice of two engines: a 2.3-liter four-cylinder that produces 156 horsepower or a 212-hp, 3.0-liter V-6. One of two automatics or a manual transmission can be installed.

All three body styles received an exterior redesign and interior updates for 2006. The optional Sport AT automatic transmission on four-cylinder models was upgraded to a five-speed unit. Mazda's V-6 engine produces 212 hp at 6,000 rpm and 199 pounds-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. Mazda juggled its trim levels for 2007, so check to see if the option you wanted on a 2006 is standard on the 2007 model.

Performance-oriented Mazdaspeed6 sedans hit showrooms in late summer 2005 as 2006 models. The Mazdaspeed6 is listed separately in the Cars.com Research section.


Exterior
Narrow headlights flank a large, five-pointed grille with a Mazda logo. The wheel arches and belt line are well defined. For 2007, Violet Gray and Smokestone are new colors, with the latter available only on the sedan and wagon.

Built on a 105.3-inch wheelbase, the Mazda6 sedan is 186.8 inches long overall. Base sedans get standard 16-inch tires, but all other editions ride on 17-inchers.


Interior
Compared with the old 626, the Mazda6's wider body translates into extra space for five occupants. The driver's seat adjusts through a 9.4-inch range, and the 60/40-split rear seatback folds down. A tilt/telescoping column holds a three-spoke steering wheel. An eight-way power driver's seat goes into s models. The sedan's trunk volume totals 15.2 cubic feet. A CD player is standard.

Under the Hood
The 2.3-liter four-cylinder develops 156 hp while the 3.0-liter V-6 turns out 212 hp. Both engines can team with a five-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic is available in models equipped with the four-cylinder, while a six-speed automatic with a manual-shift provision is available in V-6-equipped models.

Safety
Side curtain airbags and seat-mounted side-impact airbags are standard in all Mazda6 models, as are antilock brakes and traction control.

Driving Impressions
The Mazda6 is pleasant to drive and sportier than some of its rivals. This sedan takes curves confidently with modest body lean and satisfying grip. Moderate steering effort is accompanied by good feel and feedback.

Though it's no powerhouse, a V-6 sedan with the manual transmission exhibits spirited performance. The clutch is a bit touchy and the gearbox a tad notchy, but it's easy to manipulate.

Overall, the well-built Mazda6 is quite refined and exhibits excellent panel fit. Front and rear headroom is adequate, but space is just passable in the center rear position. Legroom is very good all around.