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THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Jun 10, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED By Roy Nakano

Year in and year out, the family sedan market remains the most hotly contested in the land of milk and honey. For those that view cars as nothing more than an appliance, the radar screen doesn't veer much beyond a Camry or an Accord. But the list of very good offerings in this class is quite large, and the consumer that takes the time to consider the roads less traveled will likely be rewarded with a more interesting product.

Take, for instance, the newest Mazda6 Touring sedan that I recently spent time in. By virtually any qualitative measure, it is the equal of the Camry and Accord. What sets the Mazda6 apart, however, is its bodywork. To this mind's eyes, it is the handsomest family sedan currently being offered in this country. The careful attention to aesthetic integrity is most prominently seen in the Mazda6's exterior sheet metal. However, the interior surfaces also received plenty of attention. Our sample had a tasteful cloth and leather combination that was attractive, despite being far from the most expensive interior option offered. The new Mazda6 is not small by any means, but our 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve VVT-equipped car manages to bring in an EPA rating of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway. For a car of this size, it's no small feat - particularly since we're talking about the real-world adjusted ratings that the EPA now uses for mileage. If you want to strive for even better mileage, you can work the manual mode on the automatic transmission and be rewarded with a sportier drive to boot.

Government safety ratings? It's five stars across the board - frontal crash driver, frontal crash passenger, side crash front seat, side crash rear seat, and rollover. That's according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That is pretty remarkable. So, the next time your friend or relative asks you for advice on a new car, tell 'em to take off their blinders, re-calibrate the radar screen, and see what's really out there. Yeah, Robert Frost may tell you it may not make all that much of a difference in the end. On the other hand, we already have an ocean of appliances on the highways and byways of Southern California. Consider it your contribution to the community beautification project.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT Reliable evidence that family sedans don't have to be boring. For more information about Mazda products, go to www.mazdausa.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2009 Mazda6 i Touring Price: $22,605 base $26,745, as tested, with dual-zone auto air conditioning, auto on/off xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, welcome lighting system, moonroof, Bose audio system, blind spot monitoring system, cloth + leather seating surfaces, Bluetooth audio & phone-ready, six-disc CD changer, and Sirius satellite radio. EPA fuel economy rating (city/highway): 21/30 miles per gallon Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC, 16-valve with variable-vale timing in-line-four Horsepower: 170 @ 6000 rpm Torque: 167 pound-feet @ 4000 rpm Transmission: Five-speed automatic with sequential manual mode Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Suspension: Four-wheel independent with front & rear stabilizer bars and dynamic stability control Brakes: Four-wheel disc with anti-lock brake system, electronic brake distribution, and traction control Wheels and tires: 17-inch alloy wheels with P215SR17 tires Dimensions Length: 193.7 inches Height: 57.9 inches Width: 72.4 inches Curb weight: 3309 pounds

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