Turbo lets Mazda6 defy midsize sales slump

The Mazda6 is among most stylish of midsize sedans. (Bud Wells photo)

There is no slicker-looking midsize sedan out there, and, now, finally, it’s got turbocharged power.

It’s the 2018 Mazda6 Signature four-door, which has retained its “soul of motion” sleek design in red crystal, and emboldened the front with a larger mesh grille.

The “Six” gains a turbo – a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder, borrowed from Mazda’s big CX-9 crossover and producing 250 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s a superb handler, and, while I’m not a “turbo toe” fanatic, I do appreciate the available boost from beneath the hood.

In an odd twist, Mazda6’s turbo has put a bit of zip in among the midsize sedans, which have been on a severe sales slide all this year. The Mazda6 showed the only increase in sales among midsizers in May. While that’s a positive for the Mazda, its rank in sales has been so low, that, even with the sizable jump,  it outsold only one other model, the Subaru Legacy.

The Mazda6 sold 4,437 units in May, compared with only 2,708 in April.

Total sales for the month among other midsizes and the percentage of decrease are the Toyota Camry with 29,965 and 8 percent decline, Honda Accord 28,212 and 16 percent drop, Nissan Altima 23,030 and 4 percent drop, Chevy Malibu 15,404 and 26 percent drop, Ford Fusion 15,253 and 30 percent drop, Hyundai Sonata 10,728 and 15 percent drop, Kia Optima 10,367 and 1 percent drop, Volkswagen Passat 4,757 and 13 percent drop and Subaru Legacy 3,461 and 25 percent drop.

Combined sales of the 10 above-mentioned midsize models over the first five months of 2018 have declined by more than 116,000 units. Those numbers and more are now increasing the SUV/crossover/truck categories.

Mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, the front-wheel-drive Mazda6 turbo carries an EPA estimate of 23/31 miles per gallon. My overall average was on the lower side, 24.1 mpg. It included an afternoon drive of May 31 to LifePointe Church in Fort Collins for memorial services for Lynette Kelley Fortunato, 68, who resided with husband Mike at Wellington. She died of injuries suffered in a fall from a horse several days earlier. Lynette was a graduate of Sterling High School and met Mike when he was a student at Northeastern Junior College.

Four Mazda6’s  I’d tested in recent years, all with non-turbo 4-cylinders and 6-speed automatic transmissions, averaged in the 32-miles-per-gallon range.

Mazda has dressed up the sedan’s interior, very comfortably, highlighted with a soft nappa leather touch. It rides on a wheelbase of 111.4 inches, is 192.7 inches in overall length and has curb weight of 3,560 pounds. Trunk space is 14.7 cubic feet.

The high-end Signature model was sticker-priced at $36,435; Mazda6 pricing begins at $23,000 for the Sport. Other trim levels are Touring, Grand Touring and Grand Touring Reserve. Among the Signature’s long list of amenities are lane-keep assist, radar cruise control, ventilated and heated front seats, navigation, Bluetooth, trip computer, brake assist.