Ultimately the car you decide to buy comes down to how well it fits your life – and your style. Choosing one, getting to that point where you and a car align into a purchase, well, that requires that you navigate a gauntlet of marketing and advertising designed to entice and shape your perspective. “Car A” is sporty. “Car B” is an appliance. “Car C” is a POS. Usually, the truth lies in the thin marginal differences between automaker design and consumer demand.

For Mazda and the updated 2018 Mazda 6, it’s a little different. Over the years, the sedan has grown big and gotten small; it’s spent a fair amount of time changing to gain market share and steal sales from Honda and Toyota. Now? It’s just getting better and being what it is: an exceptionally sporty and stylish sedan.  

Why Bother Changing When No One Buys Sedans?

But so what? Why bother getting better when no one wants to buy sedans anymore? Well, for starters that’s not true. Many people buy sedans – just fewer than before when cars ruled the automotive space. Regardless, there’s a market for Mazda 6, because deep down inside people like to drive.  And that’s what the Mazda 6 is all about: a mainstream sedan that may not be as practical as some, but one people want to drive every day.

This much I learned after a week spent driving a red 2018 Mazda 6 Grand Touring sedan and a white sedan equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. As equipped, the Mazda 6 Grand Touring was really a near-luxury sedan. Standard equipment included 19-inch alloys wrapped with all-season tires, heated side mirrors, adaptive front lighting with LED headlights, and LED taillights. Most importantly, the 6 now comes with a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine.

Safety-wise, the sedan features lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, automatic high-beam control, and more. Inside, my Mazda 6 included keyless entry, heated front sport seats, a 7-inch color touchscreen display with navigation, a rearview camera, and an active driver display. New for 2018 is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – a much-needed addition that helps make this technology package much more appealing.

Verdict: Take the Mazda 6 on a Longer Test Drive

There’s nothing quite like a well-built sedan – and that’s exactly what the Mazda 6 is. Yep, back row space is a little small, and the sticker price can reach into luxury brand land. Still, a sedan like this says a lot about priorities and thoughtful research. You don’t buy this car by mistake, but rather through a very deliberate choice – one driven by a refusal to accept the sameness of the status quo.

If it’s on your consideration list, be sure to take a longer test drive in order to fully appreciate the new and optional turbocharged engine, the more comfortable front seats, and the sporty handling. There’s a lot to appreciate here in terms of the driving experience and the total package. But take note: the Mazda 6 falls a bit short when it comes to cargo and passenger room, fuel economy (base engine), and in-cabin tech functionality.  

Mazda 6 Colonial Roads

Mazda 6 Test Drive Notes

Premium Performance: This is the sedan to buy when you love to drive. The spirited response of the 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the sedan’s nimble handling and live-wire, responsive steering, makes driving a joy. An improved suspension setup also makes traffic-clogged commuting more enjoyable.

Top Safety Ratings: For 2018, the Mazda 6 is rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), with “Good” scores across the board or crashworthiness. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2018 Mazda 6 an overall 5-star rating (out of five).  

Smaller than Comparable Sedans: Compared to the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry, the Mazda 6 is smaller inside the cabin, with less cargo room.  

Upgraded Technology, but lacking Functionality: With the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the Mazda 6 is much more competitive when it comes to onboard technology features and convenience, and offers most of the main tech features buyers require. However, the functionality of the system – a knob vs. a touchscreen for most of the competition – arguably hurts ease-of-use.

Mazda 6 Colonial Roads