Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature models of the 2018 Mazda Mazda6 come with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating up to 250 horsepower. (Manufacturer photo)

Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature models of the 2018 Mazda Mazda6 come with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating up to 250 horsepower. (Manufacturer photo)

Mazda boosts power and quality quotient of Mazda6 for 2018

The midsize sedan’s new Signature trim with a turbo engine treads into premium territory.

The 2018 Mazda6 Signature is a new trim level for Mazda’s midsize sedan. Signature is the most lavishly equipped trim in a lineup that includes four other models: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and the also new-for-2018 Grand Touring Reserve.

For 2018, all versions of the Mazda6 are updated with a restyled grille and new 17- and 19-inch wheels. The Mazda Connect infotainment system with 8-inch touchscreen is standard on all models, and so are LED headlights with integrated fog lamps. Seats are redesigned for greater comfort and support, and to incorporate high-density, vibration-absorbing urethane foam, just one of many measures taken to produce a smoother, quieter cabin experience.

On the downside for the dwindling number of people whose personal musical library consists entirely of CDs – not that I would know anything about that – CD players are discontinued on all 2018 Mazda6 models.

The Mazda6 Signature is fitted with Mazda’s new 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which generates 227 horsepower while consuming regular unleaded (87) gasoline. If you’re willing to serve it premium unleaded (93), output will rise to 250 horsepower. In either case, peak torque is 310 pound-feet and it’s reachable as early as 2,000 rpm.

The turbo engine is also standard on Grand Touring and Grand Touring Reserve models. EPA fuel economy ratings are 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined.

For those who place a bigger premium on fuel economy than performance, the Mazda6 Sport and Touring models are ready and waiting with a non-turbo four-cylinder engine with ratings of 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. If you’re 50-50 about power and fuel economy, don’t worry, this engine’s 187-horsepower performance won’t disappoint you.

All 2018 Mazda6 models have front-wheel drive. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all versions except the Sport trim, which offers a six-speed manual transmission for the dwindling number of people who want one. The EPA numbers for the manual gearbox are 24/33/27 mpg. If you’d like the Sport model with an automatic, no problem. It’s available.

Pricing starts at $22,840, including an $890 destination charge, for a Mazda6 Sport model with manual transmission.

Driver and passengers now get a better ride inside the Mazda6 thanks to a retuning of the suspension and chassis.

Overall improvements to the interior contribute to the situation, and the Mazda6 Signature reaches premium status with high-grade materials and such features as a reconfigurable 7-inch thin film transistor gauge display, 360-degree view monitor with front and rear parking sensors, heated and ventilated front seats, and full color head-up display.

My tester’s infotainment system would have generated more affection if it had included a couple of knobs rather than insisting on touchscreen operation for everything.

The Mazda6 (like all Mazdas) has already established a reputation for appealing to buyers who want their practical midsize sedan to have a spirited personality. You know, zoom-zoom and all that. With its improvements for 2018, the Mazda6 continues that tradition and then some. The Signature model gives Mazda fans the option of also moving toward luxury class without too shocking a price increase.

2018 MAZDA MAZDA6 SIGNATURE

Base price, including destination charge: $35,640

Price as driven: $36,435

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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