Car Review: 2014 Mazda6 i Grand Touring

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From the time we saw the first teaser images of the 2014 Mazda6 i Grand Touring, there was no doubt that this new Mazda had some mojo! The midsize car segment is very competitive, and after a week driving the new 6, we came away with a favorable view of this car’s possibilities.

EXTERIOR

The hot new Mazda6 Grand Touring proudly wears its equally skin-deep beauty on its sleeve with a sense of confidence reserved for the real deal and not for pretenders. An evolution of the TAKERI Concept, Mazda’s new midsize features the brand’s KODO “Soul of Motion” design language, which is inspired by the movement of animals in the wild – their ability to showcase power in its purest form combined with agile finesse. KODO’s prominent personality, inside and out, easily distinguishes the Mazda6 from competitive people movers, whose personalities seem to have been relegated to match their prudish exteriors. The Mazda6 makes no excuses for its muscular manner, nor does it need to. With pronounced sheet metal strokes, the vehicle evokes a controlled intensity, seemingly moving yet standing still. Not meant to be ignored, the stunning Mazda6 presents an uncommon but welcome appeal of emotion to the midsize segment. With 19-inch alloy wheels and dual exhaust with bright outlets, the new Mazda6 has that It factor that some rivals can only dream about!

INTERIOR

The zoom zoom statement continues into the cabin with black leather seating that can stand up to much more expensive sedans. As tested, the highly-optioned Mazda6 Grand Touring offers Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio connectivity, a 5.8-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, HD Radio Technology, Pandora, Sirius Satellite Radio, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rear view mirror with Homelink, an 11-speaker Bose Surround Sound System, a TomTom-based navigation system with real-time traffic alerts, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support and memory settings, a four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, those upscale leather-trimmed seats with front seat heaters and paddle shifters. Standard interior equipment for all Mazda6 models include a push-button start, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, cloth seat upholstery, power windows with a driver’s side one-touch auto open/close feature, sliding sun visor extensions, a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, carpeted floor mats, six-way manual driver’s seat adjustments with lumbar support, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-speaker audio system, auxiliary and USB connection ports as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, parking brake and shift knob.

There is so much room in the 2014 Mazda6 i Grand Touring that it’s hard to believe at times that you’re actually in a midsize sedan!

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Car Review: 2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD

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For the past six years, Mazda has been selling the Mazda CX-9, and with a refresh for 2013, the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD we tested seems to have made a great vehicle even better. Many SUVs on the road today seem to just blend in with each other, but the CX-9 has a look all its own and an interior that elevates this segment.

EXTERIOR

The largest vehicle in the lineup, the 2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD is a mid-size SUV that seemingly towers over its Mazda brethren in size and maturity. The KODO design language exudes aggression and grace, energy and poise, and strength and elegance. Mazda’s most expressive design theme yet, KODO captures the fluidity of movement, all while standing still. The unfiltered refinement of the 2013 CX-9 further vocalizes this with the precisely etched features in its new front-end and rear-facing appeal. From the slight snarl of the five-point front grille and its chrome outline that points deftly and defined into eagle-eyed headlamps, to the commanding calm of the rear taillights overseeing a masculine landscape that develops into the redesigned robust plateau of the rear bumper, no one said utilitarian had to be ugly.

The fog lights have also been redesigned to sync with the KODO-esque attributes of the front fascia, as have the dual rear exhaust pipes, changing from a lean trapezoid to a fog light-matching round shape. The overall stature of the CX-9 continues to be one of prominence and luxury, with strong, 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels dusted in a satin chrome finish and paired with Bridgestone Dueler H/L 400 P245/50R20 all-season rubbers.

The steeply raked windshield further accentuates the vehicle’s agile ability and continues the course into an expansive roofline that ostensibly dares you to load it with any amount of rooftop cargo. Any number of optional roof rack systems is possible courtesy of the standard roof rails. The body-colored rear spoiler is standard too! The large-view side and rear windows form an open and modern greenhouse, as well as provide outward visibility from all seating positions.

INTERIOR

This is where the 2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD really separates itself from the competition with the mettle to impress consumers who expect nothing less than spaciousness, functionality and premium content from every SUV on their shopping lists. Sitting on a 113.2-inch wheelbase, the CX-9 has a lot of length for design minds to play with, and with an overall width of 76.2 inches, a roomy interior for seven adults to reap the rewards. Its organized and efficient interior layout is also replete with rich touch points. When moonroof-equipped, the skylight reduces the space by 1.7 cubic feet to a still comfortable 137.7 cubic feet. The front row features a headache-free 38.4 inches of headroom. The second- and third-row dimensions remain unchanged. Legroom is measured at a stretchable 40.9 inches in the front row, 39.8 inches in the second and 32.4 inches in the third.

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Car Review: 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club

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The pure enjoyment of driving a straight-up sports car is something every driver should experience. We spent a week behind the wheel of a 2013 MX-5 Miata and enjoyed every minute of it! Since the two-seater entered the marketplace more than 20 years ago, the MX-5 has defied the convention that sports cars, particularly convertibles, were pricey, unattainable flights of fancy reserved for those with deep pockets.

EXTERIOR

Affordable, exceptional, tuned to produce driver happiness and the new for the 2013 model year is the Club trim level. Replacing the Touring trim of previous model years, the Club offers consumers the no-nonsense aggressive appeal seen in previous special edition versions but within a more affordable price realm. The 2013 MX-5 features an updated style from outside in. All trims receive a fresh new front fascia. Fog lights are now standard on Sport models, and Grand Touring vehicles receive a new 17-inch alloy wheel design. The most significant modification, however, involves the all-new Club trim that we tested, which subsequently replaces the Touring trim and is situated between the entry-level Sport and luxury-loaded Grand Touring.

With the Power Retractable Hard Top-equipped (PRHT) Club models, distinctive exterior characteristics abound. Dark gunmetal 17-inch alloy wheels – previously featured on 2012 MX-5 Special Edition models – are now standard, as are black-colored details such as outside mirrors, head lamp bezels and rooftop. This blacked-out look really set off our true red exterior and stood out on the road. A front air dam and rear diffuser are now included, as well as the seat back bar garnish now displayed in a glossy dark gray motif. For Club models like ours that are equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, the Suspension Package also is included, with specialized exterior “Club” graphics and badges rounding out the finishing touch to fashion an attractively bold MX-5 look.

INTERIOR

The carefully crafted interior of the 2013 MX-5 Miata Club might be as sharp as the sculpted exterior. Available on Club and Grand Touring trims only, the PRHT is stored in the same manner as the soft top, again not affecting storage space. Designed to perform in any climate, PRHT models outsell soft-top models by a 4:1 ratio worldwide. Using a single-button operation, the PRHT offers one of the fastest power-operated opening-and-closing cycles for a hard top in North America at a highly efficient 12 seconds – faster than the never-convenient red-light-green-light pause. Our test model was equipped with tilt leather steering wheel, rear center console with storage, remote keyless entry system, leather shift knob, trip computer and smartly centered dashboard.

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Car Review: 2013 MAZDASPEED3 Touring

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After totally redesigning the Mazda 3 in 2010, their engineers kept pushing the envelope to see how far they could take this design. Well, here we are in 2013, driving the 2013 MAZDASPEED3 Touring, and we have to say, Mazda has done quite well. When you drive a car for a week, you can get a really good feel about the soul of the car, and this car has rock ‘n roll in her soul.

EXTERIOR

The 2013 MAZDASPEED3 Touring is an aggressive looking car, and with velocity red bicolor as tested along with 18-inch gunmetal painted alloy wheels, there is some serious testosterone happening here. Our test model included the Technology package, which adds automatic and adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights. Other exterior notables were foglights, keyless entry, sport type front and rear bumpers and hood, grille insert and trim, sport-tuned dual exhaust outlet with bright tips, two toned dual power mirrors with turn signal lamps and unique MAZDASPEED3 two-tone rear-lift gate spoiler. The car just screams speed, but also incorporates a clean and stylish appearance.

INTERIOR

The cabin space looks sleek and refined compared to past Mazda models and was loaded with options. Our media car boasted 5-passenger seating, tilt and telescopic steering column, audio cruise and Bluetooth steering controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob with contrast stitching, power windows with auto and power door locks, cloth and leather seats, very cool and unique MAZDASPEED3 sillplates and rear armrest with cup holders. Additional optional equipment included interior lighting kit, mirror comp homelink with rain sensor, blind spot monitoring system, full color touch screen navigation system, Sirius satellite radio, HD and Pandora radio, SMS text message delivery and reply, E911 auto emergency notification, alarm system and rain sensing windshield wipers. Yes, this car is loaded and quite comfortable for the driver, as the 2013 MAZDASPEED3 Touring is a work of art for the price.

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First Drive: 2014 Mazda6

Mazda invited us to the Texas Hill Country near Austin to test drive the completely redesigned Mazda6. Everything about this vehicle is new, including the platform, engine and transmission, all designed from scratch from the ground up to work together. The engineers at Mazda even had to create all-new manufacturing processes to enable the scaling of the hardware for different models. The result is a vehicle that should do well in the super-competitive mid-sized sedan market.

Exterior

Check out the slideshow above, and you’ll see that the new Mazda6 is a beautiful vehicle from all angles. The front face of the vehicle is less pronounced than previous Mazda designs, helping to create a more refined look while retaining the aggressive feel of the Mazda brand. I particularly like how the chrome under the front grille extends out to follow the upper curves of the headlights, and the obligatory LED accents are perfectly placed to help create the image of speed and power.

The designers at Mazda had some clear goals as the re-imagined this vehicle. The Mazda6 currently captures a youthful, sporty image, and they wanted to reposition the 2014 model with “a more sporty, sophisticated and premium image.” They also wanted to position it as clear step-up from the youthful Mazda3.

The design theme of “Kodo – Soul of Motion” permeates every decision made with the new vehicle, with an emphasis on proportion, stance, brand signature and aerodynamics. The muscular but fluid lines make the Mazda6 look like it’s ready to run. Overall, this new design is a head-turner that should generate significant buzz for the vehicle and the brand.

Interior

The goal of creating a more premium image led to significant upgrades to the interior of the Mazda6. The all-new seats were very comfortable, and both the standard interiors and the leather option definitely had a more luxurious and elegant feel. The leather in particular offers a combination of hidden and contrast stitching that adds to the beauty of the interior. They reduced the size of steering wheel a bit to give more of a racing feel to the vehicle as well.

The designers avoided a bulky center stack in favor of a more horizontal design across the dashboard, and the controls are presented in a manner that makes them very easy to use. The screen and TomTom navigation tools were adequate, but they won’t blow you away as the screen isn’t very large. Still, the overall design and comfort level of the interior will definitely attract a wide variety of consumers.

Performance

Mazda is all about building cars that are fun to drive, and they achieved that goal with the 2014 Mazda6. The rolling hills near Austin provided a great testing environment with plenty of tight curves along with rapid inclines and declines. The thought that struck with me the most was how agile the Mazda6 felt. The steering, handling and braking were all very impressive.

The Mazda6 we tested featured the all-new SKYACTIV-G 2.5L four-cylinder engine that is available now with the launch of the vehicle, and Mazda will be providing a SKYACTIV-D 2.2L Clean Diesel Engine for the second half of 2013. This will replace the option of a six-cylinder engine which may disappoint some buyers but may also help lead to a resurgence of diesel in the US market. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Six-cylinders are becoming much rarer in this mid-sized market, disappointing those of us who crave power. Still, Mazda went to great lengths to push the limits of performance and efficiency with its new SKYACTIV engine technology, and the efforts produced solid performance for the new engine. The engine generates 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque and the 6-speed automatic version offers up impressive fuel mileage at 26 MPG city and 38 MPG highway (30 mpg combined).

Mazda has also added some impressive technological features that make the vehicle more competitive in this segment, with Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Front Obstruction Warning, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Control, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Smart City Brake Support.

Overview

Mazda’s all-new flagship model will be priced competitively in this segment, with the Sport model starting at $20,880 and the Grand Touring version topping out at $29,495. Consumers can definitely save some money choosing the Mazda6 over much of the competition without sacrificing performance and styling. I suspect the eye-catching design will lure many consumers to give this vehicle a try, and like all Mazdas it’s fun to drive, so Mazda will likely have another hit on its hands.

  

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