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There’s one more reason now to shop even more carefully for a midsize sedan: the Mazda6.

Fully redesigned in impressive fashion, the 2014 Mazda6 has advanced into one of the must-see vehicles in this popular segment that includes the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion and Kia Optima.

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Frankly, at this point in time, a car shopper seeking a family sedan couldn’t go wrong in choosing any of the above.

Despite being considered a solid midsize choice for years, the Mazda6 has never caught on that well with the buying public. But its profile is definitely on the rise.

2014 Mazda6

  • Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 184 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate range: 26-38 mpg
  • Price: $20,990 to $30,495
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance 3 years/36,000

So what has triggered the Mazda6 ascension into the upper echelon? There are many reasons. The new version features a sporty exterior, and has also added new engines and transmissions. The gas mileage is improved, it handles well, provides good performance, and the interior is appealing and smart.

And one more thing about the 2014 Mazda6: You can buy the standard model for approximately $21,000. Like most vehicles, the price can climb dramatically when more is added, which leads us to the upper end price of around $30,500 for the i Grand Touring.

The exterior of the Mazda6 features a curvaceous look with a long hood, wraparound taillights, a bolder front end, and a chrome strip running the width of the car. It’s a well done makeover that gives the Mazda6 a pleasant curb appeal.

The Mazda6 is the second model (Mazda3 was the first) to come equipped with the SKYACTIV. The goal is to increase gas mileage – now 26-38 mpg – and not compromise the performance.

Both the consistent performance and fuel economy increase can be traced to Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology. The Japanese auto manufacturer says the technology “combines breakthrough innovation and state-of-the-art engineering and is applied to engines, transmissions, body and chassis systems – all lighter, more efficient, with increased responsiveness.”

Equipped with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and 185-pound-feet of torque, the Mazda6 delivers quick acceleration, clocked at 0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds. That’s plenty quick for a four-speed “family” sedan.

Note that the previous V-6 model is no longer in the Mazda6 lineup. In its place will be a four-cylinder, turbocharged 2.2-liter diesel engine that Mazda says will get up to 40 mpg in freeway driving while not losing any performance.

One can choose from the automatic transmission or go for the six-speed manual, where shifting gears was fairly effortless here thanks to a not-so-touchy clutch pedal. The Mazda6 has a new smaller steering wheel, which no doubt plays a role in the ease of how the vehicle handled.

Some car experts are suggesting that the Mazda6 interior ranks right near the top in the segment. The aesthetically appealing cabin has many soft-touch materials, very readable instruments and gauges, and is quite capable overall.

The Mazda6 provides generous head and legroom for both rear and front-seat occupants. The trunk space is 14.8 cubic feet. This sedan is spacious overall due to its 111.4-inch wheelbase.

Thanks to its new stylish exterior, smart interior, and its ability to be fuel-efficient while also delivering performance, the Mazda6 is now a very attractive buy in the crowded field of family sedans.

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