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Mazda 6 bids farewell at its best

Say goodbye to the Mazda 6. The highly rated family sedan has been discontinued after the current 2021 model, and it’s a shame when many undesirables remain.

The issue for the Mazda is two-fold. Its current generation debuted in 2016 and the competition is increasingly wicked.

Matched against the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry, the Mazda 6 could barely infiltrate the brigade of perennial top-sellers.

The 2021 model will be last Mazda 6 manufactured.
The 2021 model will be last Mazda 6 manufactured. All images © Gretchen Gaither/2021.

How could it? Honda and Toyota have armor-solid reputations and the industry’s best resale pedigrees.

For its last appearance as a new vehicle, the 2021 Mazda 6 has a few upgrades. The Carbon Edition joins the family of now six trims. It features a Polymetal Gray exterior color, black exterior accent and dark 19-inch wheels.

Mazda 6: Six Trims For 2021

Inside are black trim pieces and red leather upholstery with gray stitching. It all adds up to the sportiest of Mazda trims and the most sports-oriented sedans in the segment.

Further upgrades include Apple CarPlay and Andriod Auto standard, with CarPlay avoid on the Touring trim and higher scale models.

Mazda 6: Standard Equipment Galore

The reviewed Signature model now also includes rear automated emergency braking and a driver attention monitor.

Standard is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with 187 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission. But as is Mazda’s reputation, a lot more is include: 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, leather-wrapped steering wheel, eight-inch infotainment touchscreen and a six-speaker sound system.

The 2021 Mazda 6 has handsome interior and exterior lines.
The 2021 Mazda 6 has handsome interior and exterior lines.

The driver’s aid inclusions are also top-level: Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert.

As the top-line model, the Signature trim features: dark gray exterior trim, ambient interior lighting, upgraded leather upholstery, wood and faux suede interior trim, a navigation system, 360-degree camera system, rear automatic braking and driver attention warning.

Mazda 6: Smooth Ride, All Speeds

Beyond its healthy equipment list and modernized design tweaks, the Mazda 6 matches the top-selling sedans with superior handling and a smooth, quiet ride at all speeds. And it’s comfortable for all occupants, with satisfactory legroom and headroom.

Seating is listed for five, but as in most mid-sized sedans, rear-seat comfort is best for two passengers unless three youth or smaller adults are the cargo. The truck is easy to access and offers plenty of room for a family’s full luggage load.

The Mazda 6 advances from 0-to-60 miles per hour in seven seconds, but the cars’ tight driving habits make it seem quicker. Gas mileage averages are 23 in city driving, 31 mpg on the highway. The Signature’s MSRP is $35,750.

Mazda 6: Sluggish Sales For Years

Despite its stylish appearance and strong driving persona, the Mazda 6 never had a chance. It debuted in 2002 as the replacement for the 626 and its sales have steadily slipped. Its best year was 2005 (71,447), but the tally reached its low the past two years, with about 16,000 sales both years.

Like most mainstream manufacturers, the Toyota Camry, the country’s best-selling sedan had a rough 2021 with U.S. sales of 256,769. It reached its peak in 2007 with 472,808 units sold. The Honda Accord reached its apex in 2014 with sales of 388,435 and tallied its best in 2014 with 388,435.

With one-tenth of the market for the Honda Accord last year and numbers falling for years, how could Mazda justify its midsize sedan despite its accolades?

The shame of it? The current and last year of the Mazda 6 is the best sedan offering the manufacturer created. It’s leaving after 20 years and just when it had reached its highway speed.

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