In the midst of redesigned mid-size sedan entries from the likes of Honda, Nissan, and Toyota, Mazda continues to evolve its more than half-decade old 6. Following last year’s facelift, the 2019 Mazda6 boasts a number of small improvements to its roster of performance and safety options.
Notably, every 6 now includes Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus system. Building on the prior G-Vectoring Control’s ability to imperceptibly reduce engine torque at turn-in in order to move mass to the front of the vehicle and improve the car’s steering response, G-Vectoring Control Plus adds light braking to the outside wheels to assist in returning the steering wheels back to center upon exiting a corner.
Additional dynamic assistance comes courtesy of larger front brake rotors on 6’s equipped with the uprated turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The 250-horsepower unit comes standard on Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature trims, and relies on a pair of 12.6-inch front and 10.9-inch rear rotors clamped by single-piston calipers to bring the sedan to a stop. Lesser Sport and Touring models make, which make do with a naturally aspirated 187-hp 2.5-liter inline-four, continue to rely on the smaller 11.7-inch front rotors of last year’s 6.
At least all 2019 Mazda6 models now come standard with advanced safety kit such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic front braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive headlights. These items were previously optional on the entry-level Sport trim.
Family sedans are traditionally not much to look at. The Mazda6, however, is an exception. Admittedly, the 6’s styling no longer holds the same weight over the likes of the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry, which all benefit from recent redesigns that include more low-slung looks.
Still, the 6’s design remains the segment’s gold standard. Its low roofline, rising beltline, long hood, and pronounced front fenders bless the four-door with unmatched elegance. Features such as 19-inch wheels and tires on Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature models, as well as the Signature-specific Gunmetal grille treatment, further enhance the proportions of the 6 by adequately filling out the sedan’s wheel wells.
The Mazda6 is among the best vehicles to drive in its segment. Credit stiff underpinnings, a firm but compliant suspension, and communicative controls. The steering is sublime and combines excellent weighting with impressive feel, while the brake pedal engages the single-piston calipers with reassuring confidence.
Opting for the 250-hp turbocharged engine nets the 6 with sufficient grunt for passing slow-moving traffic. With a riotous 310 pound-feet of torque available at 2,000 rpm and a quick-reacting six-speed automatic transmission in tow, the front-wheel-drive 6’s diesel-like thrust makes it a joy to drive about town. That said, the engine’s propensity to lose steam right around 5,000 rpm does sap some joy from the driving experience when manhandling it through twistier backroads.
Opting for the top-of-the-line Mazda6 Signature nets a number of model-specific features, the most notable of which Mazda relegates to the cabin. Nicer materials come in the form of seats covered in higher quality leather, piano black trim around the climate control vents, attractive Sen wood on the dashboard and door panels, and faux-suede covering parts of the dash. Additionally, the Signature includes model-specific technology such as a 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster display that doubles as a speedometer, a surround-view camera, front and rear parking sensors, and a standard in-dash navigation system.
Despite its additional niceties, the $35,100 price of the Mazda6 Signature is quite dear. Consider that $3,100 separates the Signature from the more affordable Mazda6 Grand Touring Reserve, which still includes kit such as a head-up display, leather seating, power driver’s and front passenger’s seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. Plus, an in-dash navigation system is available as a $400 option. The Signature’s higher quality materials and extra tech might appeal to more discerning individuals, but arguably the Grand Touring Reserve is the better choice for those in search of both comfort and value.
Mazda’s infotainment system’s age is showing. Although its screen measures a reasonable 8.0 inches, the setup is slow to boot up and suffers from confusing on-screen controls. Even accessing Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – standard on all but the base Sport trim – is a needlessly complicated affair. Furthermore, Mazda hampers the display’s useability by disabling its touch functionality once the car reaches speeds greater than 5 miles per hour. Instead, users must rely on the console-mounted scroll wheel for interacting with the infotainment system.
Just as irksome as its infotainment system are the feeds from the Mazda’s standard rearview and Signature-specific surround-view cameras, all of which appear as pixelated as a Nintendo 64 game.