Real Life Safety Lessons in the Mazda 6

The 2015 Mazda 6
The 2015 Mazda 6

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 At 1.35.18 PmScreen Shot 2014-07-24 At 1.35.18 Pm

The 2014 Mazda 6

The 2015 Mazda 6

The 2015 Mazda 6 Has It All – Including Accolades From J.D. Power APEAL Study.

When you drive a new car, you often encounter a wide array of safety innovations, from back up cameras to blind spot monitors, that you don’t really use. You find yourself craning your neck when parking, or having your spouse see if it’s safe to change lanes, instead of letting the car work for you. When I drove the 2015 Mazda 6, winner of best midsize car in J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, I was schooled in adaptive head lamps.

What ARE Adaptive Head Lamps?

Until you see them in action, adaptive head lamps are just another item on that safety innovation laundry list. But we drove the Mazda on back roads through Sag Harbor and Southampton, and these babies are amazing. As you turn the steering wheel, the head lights turn and illuminate the curve. No more driving dark country roads blindly and hoping nothing jumps out at you – with these lights, you see what’s coming.

Mazda 6

The trunk of the Mazda 6 has plenty of room for a weekend getaway

Driver Amenities in a Sporty Sedan

The standard leather trimmed seats were quite comfortable, and the seat memory meant that different drivers could have their optimal seat position saved. The leather steering wheel was a joy to hold, and controls on it were easy to use.

A large moonroof opens with one touch, so a driver alone in the car doesn’t have to fiddle around. And you can connect your phone easily with Bluetooth so you don’t get distracted hearing it buzz.

The Mazda 6 we tested was fully loaded with other tech, too; the package included adaptive cruise control which adjusts your speed to that of the traffic in front of you, forward collision warning, regenerative braking and lane departure warning. All of which helps you to stay safely in your lane and out of a crash.

Rear Comfort, Too

My brother-in-law, who is 6 feet tall, took the back seat on our trip and he had plenty of head and leg room. If you just have one or two passengers in the back, they  can use the center armrest with cup holders. The rears seats fold down in a 60/40 split so you can carry oversize items.

Easy-to-See Navigation With Great Images, But Sometimes Spotty Directions

Mazda 6

The touchscreen in the Mazda 6: crisp, clear and easy to read

The navigation system often had a hard time finding us; sometimes it was a few steps behind, telling us to turn on a road we had been on for a few miles. Even Google Maps sometimes gives fuzzy information, so I like to have the Waze app running as a backup; I can see who else is stuck in the same traffic I’m in. We found the nav to be spotty both in the city and in the country as we headed to the Lodge at Woodloch, so the interference was wide-ranging.

Ready for All Climates

We drove on clear summer days, so we didn’t get to test the rain-sensing windshield wipers, which switch on automatically when it rains, or the heated front seats, but I felt secure knowing they are there. Likewise, we are out of the car seat phase, but the seat anchors in the back make securing a car seat easy for those who need it.

It is easy to see why Mazda is on so many ‘Best New Cars’ lists, including US News  & World Reports and The New York Times, and why the APEAL Study also named Mazda most improved.


Adaptive Head Lamps

Fuel economy – we got 38 mpg on highway driving

The Grand Touring Tech package: radar cruise control, regenerative braking system, high beam control, forward obstruction warning and lane departure warning system

Sporty look: rear spoiler, LED running lights (both standard) and cool soul red premium paint job (extra $300) with almond leather interior

Sirius XM satellite radio included at no extra charge, with 11 speaker Bose sound system


Mazda 6

The rear seat has a fold down armrest with cup holders

Base price for the Grand Touring is $29,895

The Grand Touring Tech package adds $2,080 to the price of the car

Price of the model we drove: $33,320

36 month / 36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty

60 month, 60,000 mile powertrain warranty

Disclosure: Mazda provided the car for our test drive. Opinions expressed are my own.

Judy Antell, who is's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell