Driven: 2017.5 Mazda6 Grand Touring Review
We’ve all heard it before: a friend buys a car and says “this will be my responsible daily driver,” which quickly devolves into “I’m just lowering it and getting new wheels,” before the inevitable slide into full-on customization appears seemingly overnight. There’s no doubt the aftermarket economy is a huge pillar of the automotive landscape—just ask anyone who has visited SEMA—but how do straight-off-the-showroom-floor cars stack up when customized cars are all you’ve ever driven? Mazda graciously allowed me behind the wheel of one of their 2017.5 Mazda6 Grand Tourings for an entire week to find out what I’ve been missing in the OEM world, and spoiler alert, it didn’t disappoint.
Being a tall person, one of the first things to cross my mind when discussing a car is whether or not I fit in it. I'm happy to say the Mazda6 excels in this area. The fully adjustable and heated seat actually moves too far away from the steering wheel and pedals at it’s furthest setting—incredible for my 6-foot 5-inch frame—and the light leather pops with the dark stitching and Machine Grey Metallic paint. As functional as racing bucket seats are, there’s no real way they compare in the comfort or adjustability departments.
The technology of the Mazda6 was another surprising aspect, especially for someone who has owned multiple cars that didn’t even have working cruise control. The heads up display, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warnings all work together seamlessly to keep the car between the lines and other cars on the road, even with the most distracted drivers. The Active Driving Display was a particularly great aspect of the tech package, enabling the driver to see the speed limit, current speed, cruise control settings and much more without ever looking away from the road. If I'm being honest, the last HUD I got to use was in an S13, so Mazda’s implementation is a step forward to say the least.
Finally, the exterior styling of the car is stunning. Within a week, I had two separate instances of people telling me they loved the car, and a fellow Mazda6 driver give me a head nod and wave, which is more than I can say for my current Honda Fit. The Mazda KODO design philosophy has really shown it’s worth in making even a midsize sedan into something worth taking a second look at in traffic. The front grille lighting accent was also a surprisingly welcome touch, allowing the instantly recognizable front fascia to maintain its geometry, even when the sun dropped behind the horizon. While styling is completely subjective, it’s definitely not bad to start with such a great looking base for modifications.
Overall, the Mazda6 has opened my eyes to how comfortable and convenient a completely stock car can be, while not being too pedestrian or boring. Driving around with minimal road noise, no exhaust drone, comfortable seats and the Bose sound system playing music was almost enough to get me into a Mazda6 of my own, but let’s be real: I’d probably be eyeing air suspension setups before the bumper-to-bumper warranty was up. After all, no matter how great a car is rolling off the showroom floor, it could always be rolling lower.