A Victory & Reseda "Throwback Review" of the 2007 Mazda6
Call me Goldilocks.
Yep, I'm the guy who knows that things are "just right." I have an intolerance to things that are too hard, too soft, too hot, too cold, too large and too small. Whether it is chairs, beds, porridge…wait, isn't that called oatmeal these days? The idea here is sometimes you have to explore to find things that are "just right" for your life.
Automobiles are no exception. I complain about the most intricate details that do not register with many people. The driver's seat is uncomfortable, the steering feels contrived, the tweeters sound tinny, the key operates the door backwards…and so forth. When it comes to the automobile, Goldilocks has nothing on me!
My Goldilocks found a vehicle that was "just right." It came in a familiar skin with a welcoming badge on the grill. It also felt as comfortable as my favorite shirt or the memory of my last conga drum. My Goldilocks, ironically crossed with my subcultural identity as a bear, found the Mazda6 "just right" for me.
My feelings were confirmed for many reasons. Chiefly, I'm a former Mazda owner. My 1979 626 Coupe, a hand-me-down from my brother, was fun to roll along with. The steering was hard and was overall it was somewhat reliable, but I loved how it was a sporting ride. Almost every Mazda I've driven since were as sporting as I want my cars to be. Sadly, I did not count the last generation of 626s. Considering how Mazda pulled off the 6, they certainly learned their lesson as to never build a Camry with their own badge on the grille, even if it solely for North American consumption.
This was not my first turn in a Mazda6. The last one was a red 5-door, which had a thirsty V6 and Michelin Pilots that could not grip on a super wet Interstate 35 south of The Cities. Overall, it was one hot ride.
However, this Mazda6 was simply "just right," if not perfect, for me. The black 6i Sports Value Edition 4-door sedan sported a familiar and revvy 2.3 liter 4-cylinder. Why is it familiar? It is the same motor as in the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, though it is tuned "just right" for the discriminating Mazda owner. This motor is mated to a very smart 5-speed automatic operated by one of best gear levers I experienced in a long time.
Inside is "just right" for my chubby bear body. All three bears would enjoy the Mazda6's cabin, as it is just fine for a family of four with school-age children. In my case, the rear would be a pinch for tall passengers. However, I envision a Mazda6 as an affordable BMW 3-Series or Infiniti G35: something sporty with four doors and fantastic driving manners. Therefore, road trips involving more than three bear-shaped men are out of the question in the Mazda6.
What about those fantastic driving manners? The Mazda6 was "just right" in that department. Maybe more than "just right," it’s a pretty damn good driver! It rides tout, handles superbly, brakes well, and the steering is incredible! Turn the wheel and it will go where you want it to directly! To say that the Mazda6 is responsive is an exact description of what this car is all about.
To my surprise, I was satisfied with the Michelin Pilots shod on the 6. These tires are pretty quiet and gripped decently on the dry tarmac, but I need to consider my previous experience in the wet before I settle on these if I were to buy one. The Michelins are part of the package that came with this car, but what is not to say that I can swap them out for a more competent touring tire that is just as quiet as the Michelins.
As for fuel economy, it was not the greatest. These days, even an average of 24.3 MPG is not enough to win over the green crowd. I expected as much and anticipated a low average on my metro area loop. Certainly, if I wanted better fuel economy in a midsize sedan I would get a Toyota Camry. However, Goldilocks would disapprove on a few things: it's too big, too soft and too cold. Oh, wait, I know Goldilocks would have an issue with the craptastic pre-lowered-Bug ride of the SE. If I accepted my fate on fuel economy, the Mazda6 would remain in the "just right" category.
There is some news to pass along. Next year, Mazda is expected to bring out an all-new version of the 6. It is expected to be a bit larger, more powerful and quite upscale. Hopefully, it will not go soft as the last 626 did here in North America, but I certainly hope that it will continue to exhibit the drive I enjoyed from this generation. A larger cabin will help sell more units on this continent.
However, if I am in the market for a sedan that speaks to my personality and drives the way it talks, the Mazda6 is my top choice to buy. It is priced higher than the Ford Fusion or Mercury Milan, but I get a better handling car and a cool retractable key/remote-locking unit to boot! In all, it's a great package for just around $21,500, including that cool rear wing that I simply fell in love with!
Remember, I'm Goldilocks! I only settle for "just right."
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle was rented by Randy Stern
All photos by Randy Stern
PRE-OWNED VEHICLE INFORMATION: Per a search on several car shopping sites, V&R found there were several 2007 Mazda6 models available between $3,200 and $9,000. Mileage and condition varies, but most were found with over 95,000 miles on the odometer, the highest being over 121,000 miles. Always have any vehicle inspected before purchase.