A quick look at the list of the best -vehicles in Canada in 2016 reveals a stark reality facing midsize sedans: They just are not that popular anymore.
Crossovers have pretty much gobbled up the market share once dominated by the midsize sedan.
And yet there are still some decent vehicles that exist in the segment, such as the 2017 Mazda6 (which is not even in the top 30 of vehicles sold last year in Canada).
One reason for the decline in midsize sedans is the fact that crossovers offer more space and cargo room, which are attractive qualities to many buyers. Especially since, for the most part, there is very little price difference between the two types of vehicles.
The fully equipped Mazda6 GT we tested was pushing $40,000, so that may also be a factor in the limited sales.
Truth be told, I have enjoyed the Mazda6 pretty much every time I have driven it.
It looks good, inside and out, and is loaded with sought after features and equipment — especially the GT tester that came with the premium package.
Whether you opt for the base GX, the GS or GT, there’s only one engine available on the Mazda6, a 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder Skyactiv powerplant that is rated at 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque.
Unlike some of its counterparts, Mazda offers the 6 with a manual transmission in all trims. The tester was fitted with the six-speed automatic, which wasn’t a drawback despite my affinity for manually changing gears.
The powertrain on the Mazda6 more than holds its own in city and highway driving, providing adequate power for everyday driving.
Fuel efficiency is rated at 9.1 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 6.7 L/100 km on the highway. However, I was unable to come close to that, with my average coming out to a rather disappointing 10.1 L/100 km.
Where the Mazda6 doesn’t suffer any letdowns is in its looks, at least in my opinion.
The front fascia features a nice deep grille with a chrome accent that wraps around the bottom and blends into the headlight assembly. On the tester, the signature grille illumination made that feature stand out even more.
And the GT has LED headlights with Mazda’s new signature lighting. It’s really a nice look and I wish it would be made standard on all models.
There are crease lines leading away from the fascia, up the hood that bring your eyes to the muscular front wheel arches, giving the Mazda6 a sporty appearance.
The chrome accent treatment continues around the side windows and on the trunk lid.
Capping the look, at least on the GT, is a set of 19-inch high lustre gunmetal alloy wheels.
The sharp design continues inside the cabin, with long horizontal lines that make it seem wider than it is.
The driving position is quite good, and all the important controls are easily at hand, especially with the HMI Commander dial that is right behind the shifter. Like any of the dial systems in cars these days, it takes a few tries to get the hang of it, but it’s pretty intuitive.
And the heads-up display – called Active Driving Display — is a nifty little feature that allows the driver to keep eyes on the road. My son really loved watching the screen pop up when I hit the ignition button. I am not sure why Mazda just doesn’t have the information reflect off the windshield, but at least it kept the little one entertained.
Rear passengers won’t be left out in the cold when the weather turns frosty thanks to standard heated seats (outboard seats), while the driver also benefits from a heated steering wheel.
The cabin was not overly noisy when travelling on the highway, probably thanks to the noise-isolating glass in the front doors.
If there’s one thing I wasn’t too crazy about inside the Mazda6, it’s the infotainment screen that protrudes above the top of the dash — something that is becoming a Mazda standard.
But at least the seven-inch touchscreen is a good size that allows pertinent information to be displayed in an easy-on-the-eyes fashion.
Using the HMI Commander, you can take a quick spin through the various features, while the buttons around the dial allow for quick access to the home screen and favourites when they are pre-set.
The GT features a Bose premium audio system with 11 speakers, which definitely adds to the fun if you enjoy good tunes while behind the wheel. So turn it up and enjoy the ride.
Which is pretty much what the drive is – enjoyable.
Ride comfort for the 2017 model is enhanced thanks to the automaker’s G-Vectoring Control technology, which helps reduce the movement occupants experience when taking turns.
As the driver begins to turn, the system will generate deceleration G-Force that shifts the load to the front wheels and increases grip.
As the turn continues, the force is shifted to the rear wheels, increasing vehicle stability.
So not only are passengers more comfortable, they are also safer thanks to the increased stability and responsiveness.
Buyers certainly have many choices out there when it comes to midsize sedans — not to mention the aforementioned CUVs – but the Mazda6 would definitely be at or near the top of my shortlist. It has the looks, lots of features and a really nice drive.
Price as tested: $38,490
Configuration: front engine/front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder Skyactiv/ 6-speed automatic
Power/torque: 184 horsepower/ 185 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): Regular (62 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 8.4 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/unlimited mileage (basic)
Competitors: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion