2016 Mazda 6 Grand Touring Eclipses Its Rivals

If a buyer is in the market for a more affordable, yet quality Japanese car — or, indeed, a sedan to get away from the hatchback or crossover glut – I can’t imagine too many reasons why he or she wouldn’t pick the Mazda 6. It’s the best looking car in its class, knocks down impressive mileage and — if you climb the trim tree — comes equipped with every toy a modern car shopper expects.

I had a chance to test out the latest incarnation of the Mazda 6’s top trim level with the 2016 Mazda 6 Grand Touring SKYACTIV for several days recently, and it’s done very little to move away from the design and engineering that had the car competing for Car of the Year honors throughout the industry last year.

Without an RX-8 to lead the pack, Mazda 6 sports sedan is essentially the company’s flagship. The tiny Mazda MX-5 Miata is the automaker’s sexiest car, but it’s more niche than the 6.

This Grand Touring model still employs SKYACTIV – introducing a lighter and more high-tech product line moving quicker with less fuel spent. Using a high compression engine and updated materials, the result pushes MPG between 30 and 40 without the need of environment-killing batteries or long charging periods.

Mazda engineers refined and improved their metallurgy and other compounds to reduce overall weight in the suspension, chassis, drive train, etc. According to its engineers, the lighter right improves performance in addition to saving gas. The Mazda 6 looks to keep the brand’s attitude of driving performance.

The 2016 Mazda 6 hasn’t upped the power train from last year’s award winner. It packs a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a transmission using a torque convertor and dual clutch technology. 

The interior includes a full infotainment system, power everything, moon roof and Bluetooth connectivity. On the safety side, the 6 offers smart city brake support, radar cruise control, blind spot mirroring and a lane departure warning system.

Related: 2014 Mazda 3 S Five Door Grand Touring

All of those throw-ins are great — a necessity if the Mazda 6 wants to go competing with the Toyota Camry, the Hyundai Sonata or Honda Civic. But, the 6 dusts all of those cars once you’re behind the wheel. The driving feel and experience of this car surpasses anything those other cars can offer. The Mazda 6 is tighter, more responsive and vastly more entertaining than almost any other car in its class.

If there’s a flaw in all of this stylish effectiveness, it’s the price. Fully equipped with all the bangs and whistles of the Grand Touring model, the 2016 Mazda 6 starts with an MSRP north of $33,000. That creeps far afield of the affordable sedan class I kicked off with in this story. That’s entry level Lexus money, and you can approach both a Mercedes-Benz CLA and a BMW 2 Series with a check like that.

It’s not that the car isn’t worth the money. But, if the car is really supposed to be an everyman’s drivers sedan, Mazda might consider bringing that price tag down under $30K — more in the reach of the common car lover.