Speaking of road trips, I just spent a glorious week on a trip by car from my home in western Colorado to Albuquerque, with stops in Colorado Springs, Santa Fe and Ojo Caliente — at least 850 miles in all. The purpose of the trip was to drop my teenagers off at sports camps at the Air Force Academy, then enjoy several nights exploring a bit on my own in northern New Mexico. The car that was my mode of transportation for the week: a 2016 Mazda6 sports sedan. And what a lovely mode of transport it was.
I’m accustomed to driving my tall teens (5’8″ and 6’1″) around in my 2004 minivan, in which they have plenty of room to spread out, even with piles of their sports gear. So, I was a little concerned that their long legs might feel compromised in the mid-sized sedan, and it might be tight with all of their duffel bags and my luggage for the week. Not so. The trunk had lots of cargo space, and whoever sat in the front, could adjust the seat as needed. One caveat: Even when we raised the front seats pretty high, the sedan (to us) still felt a bit like a “low rider.” We’re just not used to getting in and out of such a low-riding vehicle; it wasn’t a problem, just took some getting used to after being accustomed to my mini-van and my husband’s tall truck.
I will say I definitely liked the 8-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support. There’s also a seat memory feature, but I didn’t use that. Oh, and on one cold morning, I absolutely turned on the heated driver’s seat!
Like the other Mazda vehicles I’ve test-driven in recent years, the Mazda3 hatchback and the Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV, this Mazda6 comes with the safety-centric blind-spot monitoring system. A small lighted icon on the side-view mirror will show up, and I’ll hear a chime, whenever I flick on my turn signal to change lanes on the highway, and there’s a car in my blind spot. I am a huge fan of this feature, and I think it should be installed on all cars! I know I would appreciate it on any car my soon-to-be 16-year-old will be driving when she gets her license in coming months.
My Mazda6 was equipped with some optional safety features that were not only cool, but definitely important when it comes to staying safe on the road. For example, the Mazda Radar Cruise Control allows you to set your vehicle speed in cruise control, but then if you are approaching a car in your lane on the highway, this system will automatically control the engine and brakes to maintain a safe speed and distance between you and the preceding vehicle. If that car in front of you keeps slowing down, so will your car. At first, this threw me off a little bit; I was not accustomed to a car changing speeds like that, but after a while I definitely appreciated the feature that helped me maintain a safe following distance.
Other items that I used while driving the sometimes mountainous roads on my solo car trip in New Mexico were the manual paddle shifters located on the steering wheel column that allowed me to go into manual shifting as needed. These were easy to use when I wanted to downshift into third or second gear while descending hills.
I very much appreciated having Bluetooth technology and easy steering-wheel-mounted controls to take incoming calls on my smartphone. I had no idea the technology would allow me to have my incoming emails and texts read to me, as well (remember: I drive an ancient non-Bluetooth-enabled minivan). So, imagine my surprise when I saw my kids’ texts pop up on the large touchscreen, with the option to have them read aloud by the car’s computer voice. (I found it hysterical to hear “lol” read by a computer.) Again, I think technology such as this isn’t only entertaining, but so important for helping drivers stay focused on the road.
Still more nice features that come standard on the 2016 Mazda6 (whose MSRP is $30,165): the power moonroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, advanced keyless entry system (car will automatically lock when you walk away with the fob); Bose 11-speaker sound system; and smart city brake support (which auto applies the brakes if it determines that a collision with an obstruction ahead is unavoidable between about 3 and 18 mph).
For my solo adventure to southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, the Mazda6 was not only comfortable and stylish, but with all of the safety features I certainly felt confident driving it by myself on unfamiliar roads over the course of a week’s road trip.
I enjoyed the use of the Mazda6 for a week for purposes of editorial review.