When it comes to a family sedan, some buyers just want basic transportation. The car might be androgynous in its design and characterless in its feel, but it gets you from point A to point B reliably and without fuss. It’s essentially an appliance that transports people. Then there are buyers who seek a little more from their family sedan. A car that gets the blood flowing, a car that’s easy on the eyes, a car that gets you from point A to point B just as reliably and without fuss, but keeps the drive interesting and engaging. This is the fundamental difference between the MAZDA6 and the Toyota Camry.
Two of the more popular family sedans on American soil are the MAZDA6 and Toyota Camry. The Camry, with decades of name recognition, represents the appliance approach to family sedans; reliable but far from exciting. The MAZDA6 is a machine with more verve, egging you to take the long way to work on winding back roads. But does this increased vivacity of the MAZDA6 offer as much value and practicality as the Camry? That is to say, can you have the best of both worlds in a family sedan?
Just by looking at the both of them side by side, it’s clear before even stepping inside the car which machine has more personality. The MAZDA6 benefits from the inspired minds of Mazda designers, who sculpt every machine they make in the name of fluid motion. The MAZDA6 not only looks beautiful, but it also looks more expensive and sophisticated than its base $19,990 MSRP would indicate.
At a slightly higher $20,195 MSRP, the Camry is about what you would expect. There’s not much to say about the Camry’s exterior design beyond bland and boring. It’s almost as if Toyota designers phoned this one in. It’s not ugly by any means, but rather completely forgettable. You could have fifty consecutive Camrys pass you on the street and you wouldn’t even notice.
Just because the MAZDA6 is more sporty and sleek looking, doesn’t mean that it comes at any sacrifice to cargo capacity or passenger room. Quite the contrary. The MAZDA6 is both longer and wider and has the largest trunk in its class at 16.6 cubic feet. Plus the MAZDA6 has more overall passenger volume, front head, leg and hiproom and backseat passengers benefit from more rear hip room as well.
Under the hood, both front-wheel-drive sedans offer a four-cylinder or a V6 engine. The Camry comes in with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder unit good for 169 hp and a 3.5-liter V6 with a stout 268 hp. Engine options in the Mazda are more powerful, with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder putting down 170 hp and a 3.7-liter V6 that churns 272 hp. Also, on the V6 engine, the MAZDA6 has more torque (269 vs 248 and it comes in at a lower rpm, which means you feel the power sooner)
Another way in which the Mazda and Toyota differ are how hey put the power to the pavement. The MAZDA6 has a far more finely tuned suspension paired to a steering system that communicates with the driver all the time. Hints of the RX-8 and MX-5 Miata come through in the MAZDA6; it’s one of the most engaging and fun-to-drive family sedans available.
When it comes to safety, both cars come equipped with the same standard safety features including stability control, antilock brakes with brake assist and front and side curtain airbags. Both sedans received an IIHS top rating of “Good” for frontal-offset and side impacts.
The MAZDA6 has a wider range of trim options than the Camry as well as a base price a couple hundred dollars lower. Both machines are similarly equipped and come standard with amenities like 16-inch wheels, cruise control, full power accessories, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an audio system with CD player and auxiliary input.
The higher end models include luxury amenities like leather seating with heated front seats, navigation, moonroof, keyless ignition and a premium audio system with in-dash CD changer and satellite radio capability. But for the money at each trim level, you get more features with the Mazda than you do with the Toyota.
In the end, it really all boils down to the personality of the machine. The MAZDA6 has it in spades, the Camry, not so much. The MAZDA6 is a car that helps make your life, even in the daily commute to work, more interesting. It sits in the parking lot outside your office beckoning you to return and take the long way home from work. It’s just as happy to haul the entire family on a long road trip, accommodating every occupant with space and an environment rich with inspired design.
So for buyers seeking a little more excitement out of the standard family sedan, driving the MAZDA6 is an absolute must. Don’t hesitate; come in today for a test drive of the MAZDA6 and see just how much more exciting a four-door sedan can really be.