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11 Best 2017 Cars Under $30,000

9. 2017 Mazda Mazda 6 Touring

Market segment: Midsize car
Body style: Four-door sedan
Base price: $26,120
Price as tested: $28,870
Key options: Bose/Moonroof/Satellite Package, $1,325; Premium Package, $1,425
For: Handsome styling, roomy and high-class interior, sporty handling, value
Against: No engine upgrade offered
Next big change: Full redesign for model year 2019.

We’re among those who’d argue the Mazda 6 is the best-handling mainstream midsize car sold in the U.S. In its competitive set, only the Honda Accord rivals it for driving-enthusiast-worthy road manners. And for 2017, Mazda hones the 6 with G-Vectoring Control, which momentarily reduces engine torque when entering a curve to quicken steering response. Every 6 is a sedan and every one has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that generates a sufficient but not sparkling 184 horsepower. Mazda’s hinted a diesel engine is coming, but what the 6 could really use to fully exploit its great handling is a turbo four-cylinder gas engine of around 250 horsepower, as found in several competitors. The base Sport and midline Touring models offer a choice of six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. The top-line Grand Touring version offers only the automatic.

This would be a styling benchmark in any automotive segment. That it’s a roomy and affordable family car is a bonus. The Grand Touring adds a dose of luxury with available Nappa leather upholstery with contrast piping and, new for ’17, available heated rear seats. At $31,570 to start, however, it breaches our price ceiling, so we’ll turn to the Touring with automatic transmission. It has 19-inch alloy wheels, leatherette upholstery, power driver’s seat, and keyless entry with pushbutton start. Also standard is full smartphone connectivity, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection, automatic headlamps, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Newly standard for ’17 is Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support, designed to stop the car automatically from low speeds (around 20 mph or less) to avoid a frontal collision.

Our budget had room for the Bose/Moonroof/Satellite Package, at $1,325. It includes an 11-speaker premium audio system, SiriusXM satellite radio (with a 4-month trial), and a power moonroof. It also accommodated the Premium Package, at $1,425. It adds heated front seats, adaptive LED headlamps and LED daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, and auto-dimming side and rearview mirrors.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at chu[email protected]