2012 Mazda 6 Review and Prices
The 2012 Mazda 6 is the best car for you if you want a midsize sedan that delivers more precise and playful handling than the average family car.
The 2012 Mazda 6 isn’t expected to see major revisions as Mazda readies the car’s next full redesign, anticipated for model-year 2013. The roomy 2012 Mazda 6 belongs to a design generation introduced for model-year 2009. It was freshened for model-year 2011 with minor styling revisions and a few added features. The 2012 Mazda 6 will remain a sporty, style-conscious, and eminently practical competitor to midsize sedans like the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Malibu. It should continue to offer a choice of four-cylinder or V-6 engines and will likely maintain a balance that gives it enjoyable driving manners without a harsh or noisy ride.
Should you wait for the 2012 Mazda 6 or buy the 2011 Mazda 6? Buy the 2011 Mazda 6. Changes to the 2012 edition will be minimal and waiting for it means a shorter shelf life for its styling and features once the redesigned version comes out for model-year 2013.
2012 Mazda 6 Changes back to top
Styling: The 2012 Mazda 6 is unlikely to see cosmetic updates following a 2011 midcycle refresh that included revised headlamps, a new 17-inch wheel design, a new steering wheel, and upgraded seat materials and interior trim. This means the 2012 Mazda 6 will continue as a handsome and reasonably muscular-looking midsize sedan. Its visual character is neither as conservative as the Accord, Malibu, or Ford Fusion, nor as boldly expressive as the Hyundai Sonata. And Mazda 6 thankfully avoids saddling the 6 with the cartoonish front-end treatment found on many of its models, including the Mazda 3 compact sedan and hatchback and the Mazda 5 compact minivan.
The 2012 Mazda 6’s exterior dimensions should again be about average for a midsize car. With an overall length expected to remain 193.9 inches, it’s roughly on a par with the model-year 2011 Honda Accord (194.1 inches), and just a bit longer than the Hyundai Sonata (189.8 inches) and Chevrolet Malibu (191.8 inches).
The 2012 Mazda 6 will again count among its assets plenty of interior space and comfort for both front- and backseat riders. Two adults fit in the back seat easily, with a third able to squeeze in for shorter trips as necessary. As before, they should enjoy a generous 38.0 inches of rear-seat legroom, which compares favorably to the model-year 2011 Chevrolet Malibu at 37.6 inches, the Honda accord at 37.2 inches, and the Hyundai Sonata at 34.6 inches.
Trunk volume should again be slightly greater than the midsize-sedan norm, at 16.6 cubic feet, though a narrow trunk-lid opening hampers the loading of bulkier items. The 2012 Mazda 6 will retain rear seatbacks that fold on a 60/40-split basis to extend the cargo area into the passenger compartment for carrying longer objects.
Trim updates to the 2011’s Mazda 6 dashboard will carry over to the 2012 model, retaining a layout marked mostly by intuitive control operation and an instrument panel hampered only by smallish graphics that aren’t always easy to recognize at a glance. Interior materials generally have a rich feel and the dashboard lighting is red and purple, which is tasteful or tacky, depending on your eye.
The 2012 Mazda 6 should again offer multiple trim levels, each adding standard features at progressively higher prices. The 2012 lineup likely will return Sport, Touring, Touring Plus, and Grand Touring “i” versions – the i being Mazda’s way of identifying the presence of a four-cylinder engine. Touring Plus and Grand Touring “s” models should also return – the s indicating they have a V-6 engine.
Mechanical: The 2012 Mazda 6 isn’t likely to get noteworthy mechanical updates, being just one model-year away from a full redesign. The 2012 6 will retain a front-wheel-drive configuration that places the engine and transmission over the drive wheels. Front-wheel drive inherently affords more wet-road traction and more efficient interior packaging than rear-wheel drive in a comparably sized car.
A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine should again remain standard on “i” models. Expect it to again deliver a capable 170 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. Think of torque as the muscle you feel when you step on the gas and horsepower as the energy that keeps you moving. The Mazda 6 isn’t a notably heavy sedan and this four-cylinder is sufficient for most every driving situation. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Sport i model for stick-shift enthusiasts. A five-speed automatic transmission is optional on the Sport i and standard on the other i-designated models.
The 2012 Mazda 6 s models will again come standard with a 3.7-liter V-6 rated at 272 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. The V-6 delivers decisively stronger acceleration than the 2.5-liter four-cylinder, but also consumes more gas. The only transmission available with the V-6 should again be a smooth-shifting automatic with six speeds. The extra gear ratio relative to the four-cylinder’s five-speed automatic helps extract the V-6’s power more efficiently. Both automatic transmissions in the 2012 Mazda 6 should again feature a manual-shift mode that allows the driver to summon and hold individual gears. In addition, the six-speed automatic should again include Mazda’s Active Adaptive Shift function designed to sense when the car is on a winding road or is merging or passing and hold the most appropriate gear ratio.
Crisper-than-average handling should again be a 2012 Mazda 6 attribute. This sedan feels tighter through turns than the typical family car, and is able to maintain a reasonably smooth ride in the process. A full complement of active safety tech should again come standard across the line, including antilock brakes for better control in emergency stops, traction control for added low-speed grip on wet roads, and antiskid stability control to help prevent fishtailing.
Expect the 2012 Mazda 6 Sport i model to return with 16-inch wheels and tires. All other models should be back on 17-inch rims and rubber with exception of the Grand Touring s, which should again include 18-inch tires on alloy wheels.
Features: The 2012 Mazda 6 should again offer a competitive array of safety and convenience features, though Mazda has tended to limit some desirable options to upper-trim models, which drives up their price and compels buyers to sometimes pay for items they might not want in order to obtain those they do.
Every 2012 Mazda 6 will continue standard with front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags and head-protecting side-curtain airbags that cover both rows of seating. Also included in every model should be basics like air conditioning, power windows and locks, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, remote keyless entry, cruise control, and a CD audio system with steering wheel-mounted controls.
The 2012 Mazda 6 Touring version should again add items like a power driver’s seat, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, six-disc CD changer, trip computer, and a Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone interface.
Expect the 2012 Mazda 6 Touring Plus models to further include a power moonroof, security system, and a Blind Spot Monitoring System that gives visual and audible alerts to warn a driver when another car is in an adjacent lane that he or she might not otherwise see.
The Grand Touring trim levels should again include leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a premium Bose audio system, and a rearview camera for easier and safer parking.
Standalone factory options on the 2012 Mazda 6 should again be minimal. For model-year 2011 they were limited to a navigation system and a Technology Package, both available only on the Grand Touring models. The Tech Package will likely continue to include Sirius satellite radio, keyless push-button entry/start, heated outside mirrors, auto-dimming rearview and driver’s side outside mirrors, power passenger’s seat, memory setting for the driver’s seat, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and automatic off/on xenon headlamps.
2012 Mazda 6 Prices back to top
Prices for the 2012 Mazda 6 were not available in time for this review but they’re not expected to increase dramatically over their model-year 2011 levels. Expect a 2012 Mazda 6 base-price range of roughly $21,000-$30,500. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Mazda’s fee for the 2011 Mazda 6 was $795.)
Estimated base price for the entry-level 2012 Mazda 6 Sport i model is $21,000, which is about average for the midsize class. Choosing the five-speed automatic transmission over the standard six-speed manual should add another $1,000 to the cost.
Among the other four-cylinder-powered models, expect the 2012 Mazda 6 Touring i to be priced from about $23,000, the Touring Plus i from around $25,500, and the Grand Touring i from approximately $28,000. All these come with a five-speed automatic transmission.
For models that have the V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission, expect the 2012 Mazda 6 Touring Plus s base price of around $28,500 and a Grand Touring s starting price around $30,500. The optional navigation system should again cost around $2,000 on Grand Touring versions, while the feature-laden Technology Package will likely cost about $1,800.
2012 Mazda 6 Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2012 Mazda 6 weren’t available in time for this review but they’re expected to remain at or near their model-year 2011 ratings. That means they’ll remain about average among midsize sedans of comparable power.
Expect the 2012 Mazda 6 Sport i with the four-cylinder and six-speed manual transmission to again rate 21/30 mpg city/highway. The 2012 Mazda 6 models with the four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic should remain at 22/31 mpg.
With the V-6 and six-speed automatic, 2012 Mazda 6 s models should retain their 18/27-mpg rating. Mazda recommends regular-grade fuel for all versions of the Mazda 6.
2012 Mazda 6 Release Date back to top
The 2012 Mazda 6 should reach dealer showrooms in September 2011.
What's next for the 2012 Mazda 6 back to top
The first-generation Mazda 6 launched as a model-year 2003 replacement for the smaller, less powerful 626 model. This second-generation bowed for 2009 and the all-new third-generation seems on schedule for a model-year 2013 introduction. It could be in showrooms as early as spring 2012. The car’s basic size and profile should be familiar, but expect it to ride on a lighter-weight platform and feature other engineering updates to help reduce fuel consumption in the face of stricter federal corporate average fuel economy regulations that phase in by model-year 2016.
In the same vein, there will be changes underhood and some sources say the third-generation 6 won’t offer a V-6. Expect two new four-cylinder engines instead. One should be Mazda’s new 2.0-liter four-cylinder direct-injected “Sky-G” engine. Mated to a new and quicker-shifting six-speed “SkyDrive” automatic transmission, sources indicate the powertrain could achieve around 40 mpg on the highway.
The second four-cylinder engine will probably replace the V-6, again for the sake of better fuel economy. This could retain a displacement of around 2.5-liters but be turbocharged to deliver V-6-like power but with four-cylinder fuel economy.
Mazda for years has offered its cars overseas with diesel engines and foreign-market versions of the next-generation 6 will have them, too. Diesels tend to deliver lots of torque and greater range on a tank of fuel relative to comparable gas engines and sources suggest there’s a good chance a diesel-powered Mazda 6 could finally be sold in the U.S. as part of the third-generation’s powertrain lineup.
As for styling, expect a somewhat more radical recast that borrows cues from the Shinari concept car Mazda displayed at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show. Focus particularly on its Kodo, or “soul of motion,” design theme. Based on the concept car, this would give the 2013 Mazda 6 a bolder overall appearance with a more sinister-looking front-end in stark contrast to the brand’s smaller, happy-face cars.
Expect the next-generation Mazda 6 to offer additional upscale amenities to keep up with the competition. At the least these should include heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, and connectivity to select Internet services through mobile phones.
2012 Mazda 6 Competition back to top
Honda Accord: With a handsome exterior and particularly roomy interior, the Accord continues to deliver pleasing overall performance in either sedan or coupe versions. Depending on the trim level, it comes with a choice of 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines that for model-year 2011 were rated at 177 and 190 horsepower, or a 271-horspower 3.5-liter V-6. Both manual and automatic transmissions are available. Four-cylinder 2012 Accord sedans should start around $22,000 and again be EPA-rated at 23/34 mpg with an automatic transmission. Expect 2012 Accord V-6 sedans to be priced from around $28,000 and rate 20/30 mpg. Coupes should remain priced slightly higher. The Accord is expected to receive a major redesign for model-year 2013.
Ford Fusion: It’s more conservative looking and not as lively though the turns as the Mazda 6, but Fusion holds its own for design and features. The 2012 versions should again offer a four-cylinder engine with some 175 horsepower and a 23/33-mpg rating or two V-6s at 240 and 263 horsepower, each rated 18/27. The lineup should also return an outstanding gas-electric hybrid model that’ll again rate around 41/36 mpg. Expect the 2012 Fusion to also continue among the few cars in this class to offer the any-weather security of all-wheel drive as an alternative to the standard front-wheel drive. Estimated base-price range is $21,000-$30,000. Fusion’s due a full redesign for model-year 2013.
Hyundai Sonata: Recast for model-year 2011 with more flair and refinement, this spacious five-passenger sedan now competes with the segment leaders. It looks a little like a Mercedes, with a bold front-end and flowing lines front to rear, though few would mistake it for a luxury car once behind the wheel. In a preview of the likely new norm for the midsize class, all Sonata models have four-cylinder engines. The base 2.4-liter should again generates a pleasing 200 horsepower and retain a rating of at least 24/35 mpg. A turbocharged 2.0-liter delivers added speed with a lively 274 horses, but without sacrificing much in terms of fuel economy at an estimated 22/33. A gas-electric hybrid version also will remain available and should repeat at 36/40 mpg. Estimated a 2012 base-prices range is $20,500-$31,000. Sonata’s next major makeover shouldn’t occur until model-year 2015.