Vehicle Overview
Mazda's midsize front-wheel-drive sedan benefits from a sportier nature than some of its competitors. Either a four-cylinder or a V-6 can be installed in the Mazda6. Both a manual and an automatic transmission are offered, and a hatchback body style is also available. Both the wagon and the high-performance Mazdaspeed6 have been dropped for 2008. New standard features for 2008 include 17-inch wheels and a tire pressure monitoring system. Competitors include the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

Vehicle Overview
The Mazda6 is available in sedan and hatchback body styles for 2008, but the wagon has been discontinued. Buyers get a choice of two engines: a 2.3-liter four-cylinder or a 3.0-liter V-6. One of two automatics or a manual transmission can be installed. Competitors include the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

Other changes for 2008 include a newly standard tire pressure monitoring system, a Bose stereo for Touring trim levels, and 17-inch alloy wheels on the i Sport edition. The high-performance Mazdaspeed6 is no longer offered.


Exterior
Narrow headlights flank a large, five-pointed grille with a Mazda logo. The wheel arches and belt line are well defined. For 2008, Volcanic Red and Silver Metallic are new colors.

Built on a 105.3-inch wheelbase, the Mazda6 sedan is 186.8 inches long overall. Base sedans get standard 17-inch tires, but 18-inchers are optional.


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 horsepower (146 hp for PZEV-emissions-compliant models) 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 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.