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.