It was seven years ago when we had our last long-term Mazda6, a new-for-2003 model that replaced Mazda's then-aging sedan lineup of 626 and Millennia. With a choice between a 2.3-liter, 160-horse four-cylinder (6 i) and a 3.0-liter, 220-horse V-6 (6 s), we opted for the 6 s paired with a sporty five-speed manual. While no exceptional powerhouse, the 3.0-liter was nonetheless refined and offered more than adequate oomph (0-to-60 in 7.0 seconds). Plus, the manual transmission, a rarity in a V-6 family sedan, was especially entertaining and rewarding. Overall, the 6's tidier-than-Accord size, miserly EPA fuel economy (20/27 by 2003 standards, 17/25 by today's), and impressive reliability and maintenance cost (no problems and $105 for nearly 20,000 miles of service) meant the 6 was a fun, frugal, faithful long-termer that rarely spent a night alone.
The midsize category has moved on since then; engine offerings are more powerful and efficient, and buyers now demand additional room and features. So for 2009, the MAZDA 6
evolved to meet those demands: in size, engine offerings, and accoutrements. Again we were given the choice between a four-cylinder 6i (now 2.5-liter, 170-horsepower) and a six-cylinder 6s (3.7-liter, 272-horsepower), and again we went straight for the V-6. This new 24-valve gem, which, in its basic form also serves duty in the Mazda Cx 9
sport/utility and some Lincoln
models, is paired solely to a six-speed automatic and delivers respectable EPA mileage ratings of 17/25, which equal those of the last gen's much smaller 3.0 liter.