Car Report: Mazda 6 a fun-to-drive midsize sedan

One of Mazda's midsize sedans is not only fun to drive, but also makes the commute much more tolerable.

WASHINGTON – One of Mazda’s midsize sedans is not only fun to drive, but also makes the commute much more tolerable.

I spent a week with the new fully-loaded $32,000 2014 Mazda 6 Grand Touring and came away so impressed by how enjoyable it was to drive — it even made my daily commute better. In fact, it was so much better that I searched out the long way a few times just to drive it a little more.

It really sets itself apart from the competition by being a very good “driver’s” car. That’s something I never thought I’d say about a family sedan. It also has a rare option in its class — a manual transmission.

The new Mazda 6 doesn’t have to break the bank either as it starts at less than $21,000.

Mazda also gave its midsize sedan some good looks to go along with its sporty, fun-drive persona. The stylish bodywork still allows for good interior space and more than enough room for two car seats in the back. The interior is also a good place to sit. The materials feel nice to the touch. The leather seats are sports car-firm and keep you in place.

I also found the Grand Touring’s navigation easy to use and the Bluetooth was simple to sync with my phone.

The amount of safety features offered was nice and included lane departure warning, radar cruise control and forward obstruction warning, which will keep that great-looking front end damage-free.

Take note, this is something I’ll rarely say: The 184hp four-cylinder engine is plenty of power for the Mazda 6. It’s the only engine for now but an optional turbo diesel is on its way soon. Matched with a six-speed automatic with paddle shift, it makes for an entertaining drive. It never felt under-powered.

A huge payoff with the four-cylinder engine is great mpg. My Grand Touring came with the optional advanced package. It adds I-ELOOP, a regenerative braking system, that helps drive up the fuel economy to 40 mpg on the highway. I averaged 32 mpg even in our famous stop-and-go traffic. I saw 39 mpg on a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 95. You can go more than 400 miles before the next stop for gas, which is a plus.

This new 2014 Mazda 6 Grand Touring is a vastly improved, fun-to-drive sporty midsized sedan that really needs to be on your radar if you’re hunting for a new car. If you like to drive this car, it might just be your ticket to a fun commute that’s easy on your wallet and at the pump.

Editor’s Note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI ,FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

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