2018 Mazda 6 chases a more premium path

The 2018 Mazda 6 is more than just a typical refresh for the brand’s banner mid-size sedan. It represents the next step forward for Mazda as it chases class-above refinement. On Wednesday, Mazda revealed the refreshed sedan at the 2017 Los Angeles auto show, and it brings numerous updates and improvements.

Most noticeably, Mazda brushed up the 6’s front fascia with a new grille and standard LED headlights. Mazda calls the evolution of its Kodo design language “Mature Elegance.” Painted surfaces now extend lower on the car’s body, and new 17- or 19-inch wheel designs complete the fresh look.

Inside, almost everything is new. Save for the steering wheel and a few obscure trim pieces, Mazda redesigned the cabin to chase more premium aspirations. Designers stretched the dashboard for a wider feel. And here we come to the 2018 6’s next major update: the Signature trim. Mazda first rolled out the Signature trim with the new CX-9 crossover and the trim’s intentions transfer to the 6. For the 6 sedan, well-crafted materials are awash throughout the cabin. They include Japanese Sen wood, nappa leather, and synthetic suede on the door pockets, seats, and dashboard.

All Mazda 6 sedans benefit from redesigned front seats, which the brand said are wider and absorb more vibration. Available options include an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, a 7.0-inch digital reconfigurable gauge cluster, a windshield wiper de-icer, and a head-up display.

So, inside and out the Mazda 6 will get a more premium treatment. What about the powertrain?

The delightful  turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-4 from the CX-9 finds a home as an option in the 2018 Mazda 6. The engine produces 250 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque when the tank is filled with 93 octane. Drivers who opt for 87 octane will see diminished performance with 227 hp. A 6-speed automatic transmission handles shifting duties, but since driving matters at Mazda, a 6-speed manual transmission remains optional for the base 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-4. The base engine also gains cylinder deactivation with a centrifugal pendulum in the torque converter to hush any vibrations that may arise when the engine runs on two cylinders.

Engineers gave the chassis an update as well. Mazda said the new 6 exhibits less noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) thanks to a smoother and more linear ride quality, as well body reinforcements, thicker sheet metal in the rear wheelwells, and reinforced chassis bracing. Additionally, the steering rack is now rigid-mounted to the chassis for more direct steering input, the chassis is stiffer, and the suspension geometry tweaked for better handling.

Safety upgrades include a new 360-degree camera and the adaptive cruise control system can now bring the car to a complete stop and start off again.

Mazda didn’t release pricing with the car’s debut, but the new Mazda 6 will seek drivers when it goes on sale in spring 2018. For more L.A. auto show coverage, head to our dedicated hub.

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