The Best Just Got Better

Two years ago, Mazda came out with a gorgeous, fuel-efficient, and sweet-driving new 6 sedan that absolutely shamed the market’s best and most popular mid-size sedans­­­—namely the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or Volkswagen Passat­. Now, for 2016, Mazda gave it an early facelift that made it even better looking, and upgraded its interior nearly to Audi levels of design and refinement. In other words, they made the best even better.

Even though the 6 hardly looked old, Mazda went ahead and updated it anyway, revising its LED driving lights and adding a backlit strip of light that underscores the grille of Grand Touring models at night. Some attention was paid to the backside, too—always a good thing in my book—in the form of new taillamps joined by a tasteful chrome garnish. Unchanged are the elegantly sculpted body sides, swept-back windshield and big, 19-inch wheels that come standard on Touring and the Grand Touring models.

The cabin received a massive upgrade, incorporating a new stand-up center info screen nestled top-dead-center in the dashboard, a la BMW 3-Series, that is controlled by a gizmo called the “Commander Switch,” which resembles BMW’s iDrive and Audi’s MMI knob. Other highlights include supremely comfortable cobra-wing front seats, cool white instrument illumination, and a design-ey, high-contrast parchment-over-black interior treatment on Grand Touring models. If that’s too much, a tidy, all-black interior is also available.

All Mazda 6s are powered by a 184-hp four-cylinder that both sounds good and revs happily while serving up fuel economy that rivals smaller cars—the auto-equipped Grand Touring model’s 40-mpg highway rating is better than a Smart car!—and if you prefer one of the more basically equipped Sport or Touring models, you can also choose a six-speed manual transmission that would feel right at home in a Miata. And alas, what no numbers can tell you is how naturally this featherweight car steers and brakes. Hands down, this is the best-driving family sedan in the world.

With a base price of $22,315, the Mazda 6 is priced right on top of the segment’s more popular, if less alluring leaders. And yes, I’ll be reviewing some of those other cars soon (Accord, you’re next) but if it was my money, guys, I’d go straight— er, gaily forward—to the Mazda store and not look back.

2016 Mazda 6
Base Price: from $22,315–$31,015
Power: turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 (184 hp, 185 lb-ft of torque)
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic
Fuel Economy, city/hwy mpg (EPA est): 25­–28/37–40

Or you could buy:
Honda Accord
Toyota Camry
Volkswagen Passat