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2014 Mazda 6

By Paul A. Eisenstein

On Sale: January 2013
Expected Pricing: Starting around $22,000

An all-new 2014 Mazda6 sedan goes on sale in the U.S. and Canada in early 2013.

If you're in the market for a new midsize sedan you'll soon be facing more choices than perhaps ever before, most of them all-new or recently updated models, rather than aging holdovers. So, with new entries from Ford, Honda and Nissan, and a year-old Toyota among that pack, what's a small maker like Mazda to do to get your attention? Turn up the Zoom-Zoom factor, it seems, with one of the most visually striking entries into the midsize segment.

The good news is that styling isn't the only positive attribute of the all-new Mazda6. The new sedan promises to be roomier, better-equipped, and more fuel-efficient.

Set to carry a 2014 designation, though it will appear in the middle of the 2013 model-year, the new Mazda6 is heavily based upon the well-reviewed Takeri concept vehicle first revealed at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, which itself borrowed heavily from Mazda's so-called Kodo, or Soul of Motion, design language.

The chrome accents framing a distinctive, black-out grille flow into the projector headlamps which, in turn, meld into sculpted front fenders designed to provide a sense of both elegance and muscularity. The roofline adds to the upscale feel with its rounded, almost coupe-like shape. The roof and back window merge into a tall, somewhat stubby trunk with an integrated rear spoiler.

Overall length drops by 1.6 inches, though the wheelbase has been stretched about four inches, the front wheels moved forward, reducing overhang and adding to cabin roominess. The trunk of the 2014 Mazda6 opens wider for easier access, with a new swan hinge that doesn't swing down to crush your precious cargo.

While roughly the same dimensions as the outgoing Mazda6 sedan, the new model will be both lighter and about 30-percent stiffer. Credit the expanding use of Mazda's SkyActiv technology, which debuted on the latest update of the Mazda3, earlier this year, and then took things a step further with the all-new Mazda CX-5 crossover.

While much of the focus is on Mazda's new powertrain technology, SkyActiv is actually a suite of features, including the use of a new, lightweight platform. The maker has gone to great lengths to cut out mass, even modifying such seemingly insignificant parts as the fuel pump impeller and wheel lug nuts.

But there's little doubt that the critical element is the new SkyActiv powertrain. Make that powertrains, as Mazda will offer two for the new Mazda6, including a 2.0-liter inline-4 making 148 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. The upgrade is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder turning out 189 hp and 188 lb-ft. (Note those are preliminary figures announced for Europe, and the American numbers won't be finalized until closer to the end-of-the-year launch.)

Buyers will have a choice of a 6-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic or a 6-speed manual.

Fuel economy for the 2.0-liter Mazda 6 is promised to come in around 39 to 40 mpg on the government's Highway cycle, which could position the Mazda6 as the midsize mileage champ. Insiders tell us the bigger 2.5-liter could nudge 37 mpg.

Beyond the weight reduction incorporated into SkyActiv, Mazda will offer the optional i-ELOOP system, a very mild hybrid technology designed to recapture braking and coasting energy. But instead of piping it back to a battery, that power is stored in a high-tech ultracapacitor and used to help power the Mazda6's various electronic systems while idling, reducing fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent, Mazda claims.

The 2014 Mazda6 will feature a full complement of safety features, from Smart City Brake Support, which can automatically slow or stop the car if an obstacle is spotted while at low speeds, to backup sensors, rearview camera and lane departure warning.

Pricing is not expected until closer to the U.S. launch.


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