2018 Mazda6 Sedan Starts at $22,840

Look out Honda and Toyota—Audi and BMW, too. For 2018, the refreshed Mazda6 sedan starts at $22,840 for a base model and goes up to $35,640 for a fully loaded, Signature trim version.

The sexier sedan made its debut late last year in Los Angeles, and we caught up with Ken Saward, Mazda senior design manager, at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show for details about the upgrade.

“The thing we did with the Mazda6 is we have this new what we’re calling mature elegance. And so we really wanted to do is kind of bring this car upscale a little bit,” said Saward.

From behind the wheel of a new Signature model on the show floor, it was easy to see and feel the difference from the outgoing model, thanks in part to its new Japanese Sen wood trim and Nappa leather seats.

“We have given the dashboard what looks like a really strong horizontal element to it so that the car has this kind of wide feel, too, when you get in it. But you still have this kind of centered cockpit, and you feel like you’re in charge,” said Saward pointing out the new bits.

The interior looks big thanks to the new design layout and the front seats are a little firmer, with an S-curve to them, and feel more comfortable. The Signature trim level is also available in the Mazda CX-9 SUV and features Parchment or Deep Chestnut Nappa leather, Ultrasuede touches, and a handy new 360⁰ View Monitor.

“The seats now have a ventilated seat back and seat cushion. So as opposed to doing like an air-conditioned seat, it basically sucks the air. So it takes the hot air off your back out of your body, and it pulls it out,” Saward explains.

Under the hood, the Signature Mazda6 shares the same 2.5-liter turbo-four from the CX-9 that delivers up to 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. It’s also available in the Mazda6 Grand Touring trim.

Outside, the new grille gives the sporty sedan a more aggressive look than last year’s more modest mug.

“It’s got a new front fascia, a new rear fascia, wider grille, lower kind of attitude to it. We’ve moved the fog lights up into the main lighting housing,” said Seward.

“It does two things. It basically simplifies the design of the front end. It also basically takes everything into the headlights, which then you don’t have to have any extra wiring and everything. At the end of the day, it saves a little bit of weight. At Mazda, we’re all about saving weight—increasing quality but saving weight.”

The Mazda6 Touring and Mazda6 Sport trims feature a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Both are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and the Sport can be ordered with a six-speed manual.

“But now as we move much more to a premium set, we’re finding that more of the premium brand shoppers are coming down into Mazdas, like BMW or Audi shoppers—and they’re starting to look at Mazdas like a real alternative. We call it alternative to premium.”

New premium paint flavors include Soul Red Crystal for an additional $595 (worth it), Machine Gray Metallic for $300 (nice), and Snowflake White Pearl Mica for $200 (a steal).

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Pricing for the new 2018 model is as follows: The Mazda6 Sport starts at $22,840 for a manual transmission and $23,890 for an automatic one. The Mazda6 Touring is $26,590; the Mazda6 Grand Touring is $30,090; and the Mazda6 Grand Touring Reserve is $32,590. At the top of the line is the Mazda6 Signature at $35,640.

Mazda says the 2018 models are expected to arrive at dealerships in April.

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