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2019 Mazda Mazda6 Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: A User's Review: The best car they stopped making. by michaelz08



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After an extensive search to replace my 2001 MB E430 as my daily driver (not replace entirely, it is not being disposed/traded in) I fell in love with the Mazda6.

I was fortunate to have an extremely low miles CPO top-trim signature come up for sale at a palatable (considering the market) price. More conveniently, I was able to sample a wide variety of cars the day before I test-drove it as the Chicago auto show was going on. On my list was: Acura TLX Advance, Hyundai Sonata Limted, Nissan Maxima, Honda Accord, and Subaru Legacy/Outback. Thanks to the auto show, I had seat time in all (and drive time in some). The primary comparison of this review will be the Subaru Legacy, as it is another small-contender in the family-sedan market and I have had extensive time in it.

My priorities were: good ride quality, quiet interior, fold-down rear seat, solid electronics (I don't care how big the screen is or how fancy the software is- I work in Tech and all I want from my car's electronics are reliability). Long term maintenance/reliability and a premium interior were also paramount since this is a car I would be owning awhile.

We were disappointed by the hard-rubberized dashboard in the Sonata, and the styling was not to my taste. The TLX had some weridly hollow sounding areas in the doors and unbecoming use of not-great plastics in some areas; it did not feel as premium as I'd expected. The Honda Accord felt 'nice' but not 'luxurious' because it has a decidedly sterile and industrial interior; much more generic than the last generation. The Maxima was not present at the show but I've had one as a rental and aside from the low-stance and odd exterior style, I enjoyed it.

Mazda6 Reviews:

Front-view at Night

Mazda6 Reviews:

Daytime front 3/4 view

Reviewed: 2019 Mazda Mazda6

4dr Sedan turbocharged 250hp 2.5L I4 6-speed shiftable automatic FWD

Compared: 2021 Subaru Legacy

4dr Sedan turbocharged 260hp 2.4L H4 8-speed shiftable CVT AWD

Why the 2019 Mazda Mazda6?

  Compared to the Legacy
Exterior styling
Exterior styling: Better Better Worse

The car is beautiful from any angle, I can't find many cars that look better. The TLX does for now, but the advantage compared to the TLX is better proportions and a look that will definitely age better. Compared to the Legacy it is again more proportional, cleaner, and elegant, especially when compared to a 2023+ legacy. The full LED lighting on the entire vehicle exterior is a very nice detail that is still uncommon today amongst mainstream and luxury cars.

Interior styling
Interior styling: Much better Better Worse

The interior is a huge high point. The worst thing I can say is that the use of piano-black trim in the high-traffic areas (center console, window switches) is obviously a poor choice even if visually appetizing, and the door armrests could use softer padding (they are not thinly padded, but the padding is firmer than the Legacy's). The leather-like material on the door armrests is of nice quality, it would be nice if the wrapping around the grab handle had some padding underneath as the Legacy's does. Subaru has been a champion of armrest padding since the 2015 model year. --- While the Legacy's interior is - in my opinion- the best of any new family sedan available in 2023, it is notably below the Mazda6 Signatures (I cannot speak to lower Mazda6 trims, and there are many big differences from glove box/seat control trim to seat-back pockets). The Mazda's interior is more European in style and higher quality in construction and materials. Especially in the brown Chesnut, it is positively rich in feel and appearance; putting many luxury cars to shame. The Mazda's steering wheel is equal in pleasantness to hold, but the controls are far more logically arranged. The gauge clusters have a much more mature and upscale look, and the buttons/switches are more tactile in operation. --- The Legacy's great seats are soft and comfortable, while the Mazda's are European-style firm but very supportive. I would not complain about spending hours in either's driver's seat, however, it is worth noting the passenger seat in the legacy has an 8-way adjustment (a rarity in the segment) while the Mazda's has 6-way. Both cars have ventilated seats that are louder than what you'll find in a Lexus, but both are very effective. The Mazda's edges out the Legacy's in how well they work, as they pull air instead of blowing it and (to my surprise) this seems to work faster and more effectively.

Audio & nav systems
Audio & nav systems: Better Better Worse

The Legacy's infotainment is much newer and fully featured, while the Mazda's benefits from older (but more stable) software and a rotary knob for controlling it (my preference). I find both systems to be good once you learn them, and to Subaru's credit, the software gets more reliable year on year. --- The Legacy's displays Apple Carplay Navigation directions in the Instrument Cluster (a rarity, even today) while the Mazda's only displays its own navigation system's commands [in the HUD]. The Legacy has no true HUD while the Mazda has a simple one. --- The Legacy has a 12-speaker (really 10, but the front door speakers are counted twice) Harman Kardon system with no special features. The system has the 2-way front speakers in the lower doors, tweeters and a center channel in the dash, smaller speakers in the lower rear doors, and a subwoofer in the rear shelf (that is mounted off-center and juts into the trunk ceiling, both have annoyed me for years). --- When working properly, it produces good clarity for those in front, but the current generation has a soundstage that is narrow thanks to an overdriven center channel speaker (that some owners have unplugged to remedy). The system emphasizes bass (to my dismay), so those who don't typically crank it up to max may actually prefer to lower the default level. Our Legacy had an issue with the tweeters that cause peculiar distortion and the dealer is currently working to try and resolve this. --- The Mazda has an 11-speaker Bose system with Audiotpilot noise compensation and Centerpoint 'surround sound'. It consists of lower door speakers in all four doors and tweeters in the front doors, with 2 midrange speakers and a center channel in the dashboard, and 2 midrange speakers in the rear shelf. --- The system has an excellent soundstage with Centerpoint on or off (but especially so with it On) and crisp highs. Clarity in the midrange is not as good as the Harman Kardon in the Legacy but that may be due to the the aforementioned overdriven center channel. I like the separation of the lows and mids into separate speakers compared to the Legacy as I feel it contributes to the better soundstage. As the system has no dedicated subwoofer, it has much less bass and I found myself putting it +1 from the default.

system has the 2-way front

Ride smoothness
Ride smoothness: About the same Better Worse

It depends what you're after- do you like to drive at all? --- The Legacy is one of the smoothest-riding modern cars I've been in. Significant time has been spent giving it the ride-refinement one would expect of a Lexus ES, but like the ES this comes at the detriment of fun. While the Legacy is far from a boat and feels confident in any situation (within the limits of the mediocre stock tires), it is not a car made for back roads. But that's fine! It is a lovely car to go about your day in, and you will love how the tall wheels - with more sidewall than most comparable cars- and compliant suspension make easy work of the pothole-ridden roads with a high level of composure. --- The Mazda6 rides with a feeling of deliberate tuning too, as it is very balanced. Going into the test drive I was expecting to find the ride to be too firm but it is certainly not. There is a level of compliance to the suspension that I was surprised by, but it does not isolate you from the road. Large bumps are translated to felt but muted kicks and are well-handled. You are aware of the road quality, but only to a reasonable extent. The 19-inch wheels have less rubber than the Legacy's, which you do notice but can be resolved aftermarket. Overall, the Mazda is comfortable in a driver's-choice sort of way. The whole car is engaging in feel and communicative enough to make you want to drive it, but comfortable and compliant enough to not make the drive a chore be it on city roads or highway jaunts. --- They aim for different goals, so one is not really better than the other. Both have superbly executed rides that are done with such polish that the engineers who were responsible really deserve a raise. I'm handing the win to the Mazda here because it's still very smooth riding despite its driver focus and better aligns with my own preferences.

Powertrain performance
Powertrain performance: Much better Better Worse

Both cars have turbo-four-cylinder engines. Mazdas makes more torque while the Legacy's produces more horsepower. Both can run on regular fuel (but the Mazda will make more horsepower on premium, 250 vs 227). --- The Mazda's power plant is much more pleasant and engaging. The sound is better, the power comes on lower, the turbo lag is imperceptible, and it's a smoother engine. It makes for a better daily driver overall. My first thought when I got in to test drive it (having never driven a Mazda sedan nor their turbo four before) was that it reminded me of my E430s V8. --- The Legacy's power comes on much higher, so you notice the turbo lag since there's a larger rev range where the four-cylinder isn't being boosted. There's an excitement in feeling the power come on so suddenly, but for daily driving it's less pleasant to have to rev it as high to get to the power. It remains a great engine, but as someone who had a 2018 3.6R I will always lament the loss of that buttery smooth Subaru powerplant. --- The Mazda6 has a 6-speed automatic that shifts with decisiveness and it s well calibrated for their Turbo 4. The Legacy's CVT will imitate shifts under hard acceleration but they are not as quick or crisp in feel as the Mazda's real shifts. In normal driving it will do the typical CVT drone, which is fine for a car of this class and you'd get used to it. That being said, the Mazda's powertrain refinement just lends to further its premium aspirations. --- MPG: The Legacy wins on fuel economy thanks to the newer drivetrain and CVT. The Mazda6 is not a gas guzzler, but even with AWD the Legacy bests it handily.

Why Not the 2019 Mazda Mazda6?

  Compared to the Legacy
Quietness: Worse Better Worse

Note: 2020-2022 Legacy's come with Acoustic front door glass on XT models, 2023+ models have abandoned this option. The Mazda6 has acoustic front door glass on all trims above the base Sport. Both cars have standard rear door/windshield glass and acoustic windshields. Suffice it to say, the rear seat of both will have more noise felt than the front, as is common in cars below $60-70K. I have driven a 2022 Legacy without the acoustic glass (the Premium trim), and you do notice the greater wind and ambient noise as a result. The glass can be retrofitted on 2023+ models if you order the parts, and this is an investment I would recommend. --- The Legacy wins, hands-down. Mazda spent a lot of time making the Mazda6 quieter, but the chassis is older and they fit much lower-profile tires on the 6. Both cars have a dearth of wind noise thanks to the special glass, and ambient/road noise is well controlled in both. Both cars are quiet, the Legacy just manages to be even quieter. --- The Mazda's primary noise-related ailment is tire noise from the low-profile wheels on poor-quality pavement such as concrete or aged/rough asphalt. It comes into the cabin mostly from the rear half of the car with this metallic echo likely resulting from the large wheels. I have read the noise in the Mazda6 described as "communicative yet not intrusive" and that is apt- at no point do I feel disturbed like I did in a rental 2017 Toyota Corolla. However, swapping to wheels with larger sidewall (like the base 17" alloys, which I plan to do when my tires wear out) would probably resolve this. I will update this section when I make my wheel swap. --- Worth noting is drivetrain noise: The Mazda's engine and exhaust note is unequivocally more pleasant than the Legacy's, and as it has no CVT that makes transmission operation quieter. In general, I feel as though the Mazda has more sound deadening in the firewall to reduce undesirable engine noise, such as when cruising on the highway. --- Both cars rank well in terms of noise and on smooth roads they're serene. But thanks to stock wheel and tire choices, the Legacy takes the win here.

Rear seat room & comfort
Rear seat room & comfort: Worse Better Worse

The Mazda6 has a smaller rear seat, no way around it. That being said, I find it to be more richly appointed than the Legacy's with the same great materials as up-front and cool touches: the USB ports are in the center armrest with a covered storage cubby, and the rear seat heaters are 3-level with controls in the armrest. These touches are reminiscent of very high-end luxury cars and are more convenient locations in general. The Mazda's heated rear seats also seem to be stronger than the Legacy's. --- The seats follow the same theme as the front in both cars- softer/plusher in the Legacy, firmer but well shaped in the Mazda. --- The front seat-backs are more upscale in the Mazda, and the rear seat of the Mazda has ambient lighting in the door pockets (unlike the Legacy). Overall, the rear cabin of the Mazda is snugger but remains comfortable while carrying on the quality and elegance of the front. For space though, the Legacy still grabs a Win here.

Off-road capability
Off-road capability: Worse Better Worse

The Mazda has no chance compared to the Legacy if you live in a place with really bad winters- but you know that already. In the Chicago area you'll be fine with FWD as long as you have decent tires (3PMSF ratings are ideal) and are experienced in winter driving. Subaru's AWD is well-reputed for being extremely surefooted and it's well-earned, as it feels confident in all but the most inclement of conditions.

Cargo capacity
Cargo capacity: Worse Better Worse

The Legacy has a larger trunk, no qualms there. --- Worth noting is the Mazda6's very wide rear-seat fold-down opening, larger trunk opening (due to its older design), and that Mazda had the thoughtfulness to both cover the trunk hinges in a plastic shrowd and provide a trunk-lid handle to pull it shut- both niceties that the Legacy lacks.

Interior styling  

The center armest of the 6 is neutered to provide space for covered cupholders. This does make it harder to rest your arm directly on the soft armrest lid; my seating position means I usually end up with my elbow on the sides of the cupholder area instead. To their credit, those sides are very softly padded (I was very surprised) and comfortable (though not as comfortable as a full armrest, clearly).

Other Features of the 2019 Mazda Mazda6

  Compared to the Legacy
Materials & workmanship
Materials & workmanship: Better Better Worse

The Legacy already has a wonderful interior with great materials that are above the segment's standards, but the Mazda6 Signature manages to improve on all the materials in and assembly quality in almost every way (except for the armrest padding, as mentioned previously). The upper door panels and dashboard have an injection molded plastic that's more visually and tactically pleasant. The Mazda6's vinyls more closely match the Nappa leather in both texture, feel, and color compared to the Legacy- it is much easier in the Legacy to tell what is leather and what is Vinyl on the seats. And the real wood trim and beautiful suede make for an interior ambiance the Legacy cannot obtain. Mazda also figured out that part of what makes an interior look more premium is less visible seams where interior panels meet for an uninterrupted visual flow, which the Legacy struggles with.

Controls and instruments
Controls and instruments: About the same Better Worse

The Legacy has a unique feature for any car- an electric heater. In cold weather, this means that the Legacy will provide hot air much faster than the Mazda. --- Another aspect worth mentioning is Telematics- the Mazda has none as they ran on 3G and the Mazda6 never got updated to 4G. The Emergency 911 when the airbags deploy will still work as it dials through the connected phone (Carplay/Android Auto or Bluetooth), but there is no factory remote-start or remote-unlock (aftermarket options are available). To some, this may be a deal-breaker, but the Legacy has you covered with a full suite of modern telematics. --- An amazing detail of the controls in the Mazda (aside from the fact it is still button-centric, unlike the Legacy) is that when using Apple Carplay, the shortcut buttons continually adapt to point to the in-use system. Using carplay, the home button navigates to the Carplay home. Press and hold it to switch back to the Mazda's system effortlessly. Using Apple Maps but listening to FM radio? The Maps button takes you to Apple Maps, and the Music button returns you to the FM screen. If you switch your music source to carplay, the Music button adapts and will take you to that Carplay screen. Use the stock Nav instead? The Maps button will take you to there from carplay. This makes it extremely easy not only to quickly move around carplay, but to use any parts of each system and get the most out of your car's tech. This implementation, along with the great colors of the 8" screen, have helped the technology to age well even in 2023.

Feature availability
Feature availability: Better Better Worse

Both cars have great options sheets. Things like Adaptive LED headlamps are available on both whereas some luxury cars don't offer them or rarely come equipped with them. The Mazda6 offers some things the Legacy does not, such as a true HUD, full 360 Camera (the Legacy has just a rear and front view camera), or Rain Sensing Wipers. The Legacy, in turn, has some things the Mazda does not, such as a driver's seat thigh extension, aforementioned electric heater, and more advanced/newer and driver's assistance tech. When it comes to the cameras available on both cars, it has been a complaint of many auto reviewers that they are disappointingly low-definition. Let's be clear (pun intended), you can still see what's going on through them and they serve their purpose. Could they be higher def? Yes. Is this a big deal? No. This is such a minor gripe I can't believe it's mentioned so often. I'm not watching a movie through these cameras- in total, you'll use them for not even a full minute per drive. Low res or not, having more than just the standard backup camera is an asset.


I strongly considered a 2021 Subaru Legacy, since my family has one I've had the chance to drive hundreds of miles in it. I've also had two previous Legacy's myself (2015 and 2018 models) and am an established Subaru fan. Overall, the Mazda6s more engaging drive - while remaining comfortable - and downright amazing interior (as well as significantly better prices on the used market, currently) won me over.

Seeing how great the Mazda3 and new CX90 are makes me long for Mazda to return to this segment- if this 2014 based Mazda6 can be so great, a brand new one would be one of the best cars on the market. The death of the Mazda6 strikes me in the same way as the death of the Lexus GS- both were superb cars that filled market spaces that I feel have been left void.

Mazda6 Reviews:

Interior view from the passenger-side front door.

Mazda6 Reviews:

Rear armrest

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