Good looks, award-winning cabin, refined powertrain, and the availability of a manual transmission even on higher-grade models.
The latest-generation Mazda6 launched in 2013, debuting full SkyActiv technology for the promise of improved performance and efficiency. With upscale design and feature content, the 6 amounts to a mainstream sedan that gave owners access to up-level style and features, for a reasonable price.
The Mazda6 earned high scores from industry authorities, journalists, and owners. Just after launch, it was quickly named the 2014 Canadian Car of the Year by the members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and went on to earn top safety scores from industry safety experts, too.
Numerous options and trim grades were on offer, expanding selection. Models with the Technology Package added high-tech safety features, including the latest in outward-looking hazard detection tech, including autonomous braking and lane-departure warning. All models got traction control, electronic stability control, and advanced anti-lock brakes. Fully networked, computer-monitored, and optimized for all driving conditions, this suite of driver control aids works with your safe driving to ensure maximum confidence at all times.
Elsewhere, feature content included Bluetooth, navigation, a Bose stereo, heated leather, automatic climate control, push-button start, automatic lights, a sunroof, and plenty more.
All units were four-door, front-drive sedans. The GX was the 6’s base model, while the GS was the high-value mid-grade model. The GT is the top-of-the-line package. An 2016 update revised the 6’s appearance and feature content offerings.
All models from this generation run a 2.5-litre SkyActiv four-cylinder engine, good for 184 horsepower. Transmission choices included six-speed units in the driver’s choice of manual or automatic.
What Owners Like
The Mazda6 seems to have appealed to many an owner with its good looks, award-winning cabin, refined powertrain, and the availability of a manual transmission even on higher-grade models.
What Owners Dislike
Some owners wish for a quieter ride at higher speeds, and get annoyed by the text-message pop-up which blocks the rear-view camera display, should you receive a text message while reversing. Further, some owners wish for a more positive bite from the 6’s mushy clutch, and others wish for a more straightforward navigation system.
If possible, budget for a 2015 or newer model, which will be covered by Mazda’s unlimited-mileage warranty. This protects drivers with 3 years of New Vehicle warranty and Roadside assistance, with no mileage limit. It also includes 5 years of powertrain coverage and 7 years of anti-perforation corrosion coverage, all with no mileage limit. Just note that this extra-value warranty does NOT apply to 2014 models.
The 6 looks to be a solid and reliable used family sedan bet, thus far. Below, we’ll provide a few checks, tips and considerations to help ensure you wind up with a first-class copy of a second-hand Mazda6.
Here’s Your Test Drive To-Do List
Check for Outstanding Recall Work
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Once you’ve decided on the unit you like, be sure to work with a local dealer and see if any recall work is outstanding. They’ll need the vehicle’s VIN number. Mazda6 had four recalls to address latent safety issues, and you’ll want to ensure the model you’re considering has had all applicable recall work performed. Recalls are performed free of charge.
Maintenance is Key
According to many owners in this discussion thread, the Mazda 6 has offered virtually flawless operation with minimal reported issues. Key here is that most of these owners report staying on top of all maintenance requirements, religiously. The Mazda 6’s maintenance is relatively simple and inexpensive, though following all routines consistently should be considered mandatory. Check the owner’s manual for the full scoop, and if service records are unclear, be sure to budget for a full tune-up and fluid change for maximum peace of mind. Note that most Canadian drivers should follow the “severe” maintenance schedule.
Check Door Seals and Associated Clips
The Mazda6 has been criticized by some owners for higher-than-expected noise levels at speed. In this discussion, owners highlight how checking for (and addressing) torn or loose door seals, and the clips that hold them in place, may help reduce cabin noise levels. Check all rubber door seals to ensure they’re in place, intact, and free of ripping or damage to help keep noise levels down.
Quell Rattles With a Little Foam
If you detect a rattle or clicking sound from the central command screen area while driving over a rough road, the likely source is the way the central screen is mounted to the 6’s dashboard. In this thread, owners explain a possible fix: which involves shoving some foam pads in behind the screen to eliminate the rattle.
Give the Navigation System a Workout
Fire up the 6’s central command system and give it a workout – pairing your phone, plotting a navigation course, adjusting vehicle settings, and more. Then do it again. Though relatively rare, some owners have reported crashing or freezing of the central command system. This isn’t uncommon across modern vehicles in general, and the fix typically involves having a dealer apply updated software to the system. Contact a dealer if you experience problems. Also, now’s the time to confirm that all steering-wheel-mounted controls, as well as the central command controller, are in proper working order.
Check for Rust
Some owners have reported the quick formation of rust beneath the 6’s paint, especially in areas where a small chip or other damage compromises the outer protective layer of paint. Inspect the 6 you’re considering carefully for signs of rust, and ideally, have even small chips or other blemishes fixed sooner than later to prevent rusting. Be sure to check the lower, inner edge of all doors, the hood, and the trunk for signs of rust that may be forming within. Door hinges should also be inspected. Here’s some more reading on rust. And a rust recall.
Confirm all Interior Backlighting
Check that the background illumination for the Mazda 6’s shifter console and steering-wheel mounted controls is working properly. If there’s no backlighting present, the likely fix is replacement of one or more fuses.
Beware Steering Noises
Some owners have reported a clunking or popping noise when steering, especially after the vehicle has been parked for an extended period. Coax this sound from the vehicle by running the engine, parking, and turning the wheel fully from one side to another, several times, and at several different speeds. Any unwelcome noises indicate the need for further inspection. If detected, the sound could be caused by bad control arms or strut mounts. Here’s some more reading.
Other Useful Checks
Tires and Brakes
Some owners have reported shorter-than-expected life from the factory tires and brake pads/rotors. Assume the Mazda 6 you’re considering needs these components replaced, until you or a technician confirms otherwise.
Direct-Injected Engine Considerations
As all Mazda6 engines are direct-injected, owners should be double sure to change engine oil and spark plugs ahead of their prescribed service intervals for maximum peace of mind. Religious use of Top Tier gasoline (not high-octane gasoline), is also a great idea. These steps can help keep direct-injected engines clean and efficient for years to come by fending off the buildup of valve gunk.
Whether or not a Check Engine light, or some other warning, is illuminated, consider having the Mazda6 you’re considering treated to a full electronics system scan by a Mazda dealer. This can reveal potential problems with various drivetrain and safety systems, saving you money and headaches.
Thus far, the Mazda 6 looks like a solid bet in a used family sedan with upscale features and looks – and especially if the unit you’re considering has full service records available, and passes a pre-purchase inspection with satisfactory results.
Crash Test Ratings
IIHS: Top Safety Pick+
NHTSA: 5/5 stars