Better Driving Experience Than Others, But Quality Suffers
Since the car was brand new, there have been numerous squeaks and rattles throughout the interior. Those include an easily-duplicated metal-on-metal squeak coming from one of the driver's seat brackets, that three dealers have not been able to rectify.
More serious was the failure of the 6-speed automatic transmission at 19,500 miles. The problem showed itself when I hit the gas to accelerate at highway speeds, and the transmission downshifted into FIRST. The car got me to my destination (350 miles away, driven very carefully) and the dealer promptly installed a new transmission (hopefully built after Feb. 2006, as noted by another reviewer.)
Apart from that, the car has held up reasonably well. I do wish Mazda had used higher-quality interior trim -- the silver-painted door handles started showing wear at less than 10K miles, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel is very easy to scuff, a problem I've not experienced on other vehicles in this price range.
Even with the problems noted elsewhere in this review, I love my 6. The car handles like a dream, and the interior is surprisingly roomy. Mazda seems to have done its job to impart a sense of the "zoom-zoom" marketing catchphrase to a mid-range family sedan.
I wish the engine had a bit more power than only 215 hp, especially as the gas mileage is rather gloomy -- only 21 mpg in the city. But the power available is very tractable, especially when shifting the automatic via its manual gate.
On a totally superficial note, the car flat-out looks great. There is not a single exterior line I'd have drawn differently. Mine is the base "S" model, without the rocker trim or garish rear spoiler. About the only things I miss are fog lights, if only so my car looked less like an Enterprise rental.
Despite their failure to diagnose and fix the driver's seat squeak, both Dallas, TX-area Mazda dealers I've taken the car to have offered fantastic customer service, including free loaners for even non-drivability-related issues.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 10th March, 2008