The 2021 Mazda 6 is a reflection of what once defined the automotive world. In a bygone era, the four-door sedan was king, and the first utility vehicles were crude rugged beasts that could prove their worth out on the trail but had little going for them out in urban settings. But technology has advanced, and this surge of advancement has allowed utilities to surge into the forefront of the buying conversation. As a result, sedans are slowly dying out, and sadly the Mazda 6 joins the growing list of monikers being retired in the quest for higher sales. We decided to take one final drive in the Mazda 6 to not only say goodbye but also to see what’s being lost in the quest for utility-fueled sales growth.
Mazda 6 Still Looks Like A World Class Painting
The news of the Mazda 6’s departure came out of left field, with the company actually revealing this information just as our Signature grade tester was beginning its stay at the office. It’s a shame it’s leaving our side of the pond since the exterior styling still looks sharp and elegant. While some aspects of it were starting to age, Mazda gave it a mild refresh a few years back that aimed to address some of its age lines. A reworked front grille helped give the Mazda 6 more of a presence, while other minor touches helped give it some uniformity. The rear styling is very reminiscent of some sport sedans, and the taillights are still our favorite feature here in this particular regard.
Our turbo-equipped example also came with large alloy wheels, which helped enhance its street presence further. While the blue on hand does not have the same visual punch as the vibrant red that we have seen on some other Mazda models, we have encountered in the past, that can actually be a good thing for buyers that want to have a sporty four-door but prefer to make a subtler statement to the masses.
Aging Interior Shows Even Luxury Cannot Hide Father Time
.The interior of our Signature grade example is a classic example of subdued luxury, with Mazda designers preferring to let the finer details speak to the viewer versus anything flashy or elaborate. That’s show in the tasteful strips of real rosewood trim, the modern but clean dash design, as well as the comfortable leather seats, which provide a good balance of comfort and support.
But while the cabin is still a very comfortable place to spend time in, it’s also aging in some obvious ways. Unlike some other sedans that remain in the marketplace, the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system is on the small side and is vastly inferior to modern systems. The screen is technically a touch unit, but that only shows itself when the 6 is stationary. When you’re on the move, you have to use the control knob and some hard buttons to get around. Mazda reps we spoke to in the past claim that this quirk is designed to enhance vehicle safety. Still, with many modern vehicles allowing some form of formal touchscreen operation while out on the move, we’re not buying that logic. The trunk can fit an impressive amount of cargo with the rear seats up, with space further expanding when folding the rear seats down. One complaint is that the Mazda 6 forces owners to use the levers in the trunk to fold the seats down versus having some form of release in the cabin itself.
While we’re complaining, knee room for the 6’s rear seats is pretty atrocious if the passengers are seated behind average-sized occupants, and this causes the 6 to fall behind the Toyota Camry and the Hyundai Sonata, which offer more room for their rear passengers.
Performance Adds Extra Kick In The Family Commute
The 2021 Mazda 6 has always been a renegade when it comes to this particular category. Unlike other four-door models, the 6 does not have any hybrid engines. The base model is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder that’s good for 197 hp and is pretty responsive for what it is. Buyers looking for more power have to climb the trim ladder a bit (while they still can), and if they do, they will find an optional turbocharged version of this engine which is good for 250 hp. A 2021 update helped the torque figure grow by 10, which allows that figure to grow to 320 lb-ft. Like other turbo-equipped Mazdas, the lone caveat here is that the engine needs to be fed a steady diet of premium fuel to achieve maximum performance numbers.
Both engines are mated to a pair of six-speed automatics, with each box being fine-tuned for the engine attached to it. The automatic might lose a few gears to some newer eight and nine-speed boxes. Still, it’s always refreshing to see that Mazda engineers did not sacrifice some of the performance and refinement that have become so synonymous with other Mazda products. Downshifts are crips, and it seems that the transmission and the engine (especially the turbo) are in near-perfect sync. Buyers looking for a rowdy firecracker of an engine will not find it here, with the 2.5-liter turbo preferring to let its abundant amount of low-end torque and refined character do the talking when taken out on the streets. Steering in the Mazda 6 is also a noticeable departure from other sedans. It manages to have an uncanny amount of feel, which is missing from the current crop of sedans today.
Pricing for the 2021 Mazda 6 is still a potent trump card for the model, and with the 6 ending sales here in the U.S., look for some Mazda dealers to potentially offer juicy discounts and deals to buyers in an attempt to move them off their lots. In the meantime, while the main part of the online configurator is not working, buyers can still see that a base model starts at $24,475, with the rest of the trim ladder raising that figure accordingly. Buyers that want a Signature model like our tester will be pleased to hear that a base version starts at $35,900, with our lightly optioned tester checking in at just under $40,000.
With Mazda winding down sales of the 6 here in the U.S., prospective buyers will have to search around a bit to find one in their area, but if they find one (especially with the 2.5-liter turbo), they will be rewarded with a tempting bargain that not only delivers on its performance intentions but also decent fuel economy with the turbo getting 23 mpg in the city and an impressive 31 mpg on the freeway when fed with premium swill.
While the 2021 Mazda 6’s swan song in the U.S. might signal the end of Mazda’s full-size sedan sales in the U.S. (the smaller Mazda 3 is the only sedan remaining), it shows that Mazda is willing to make adjustments on the fly and tweak its sales plans to accommodate maximum amounts of demand. That includes putting more investment into utilities as well as expanding its efforts into electrification.
But the Mazda 6 will be missed by many, especially since it was the lone athletic outlier in a sea of otherwise bland family-focused four doors. Weekend warrior dads had a car that could be fun on the weekends while still being the practical choice for shuttling the wife and kids around through the rigors of the daily commute, and the 6 had a unique personality all of its own Goodbye Mazda 6, you will be missed.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.