The Mazda6 got two new upper trim levels with a new turbocharged 4-cylinder engine for 2018, giving buyers more choices for this popular mid-size sedan. The new engine is a nice complement to a great sedan, nicely styled and pretty good on gas as well.

My test 6 for the week was the top-end Signature model in Mazda’s brand-new Soul Red Crystal color, which could be the best factory paint I’ve seen on a car. Mazda has always had excellent paint, but this new color is dynamite. Other trim levels include the base Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Grand Touring Reserve.

My test car also had the new SKYACTIV turbo-4 engine that gives this sedan a feed-bucket of power with 227 horses that send 310 lb.-ft. of torque to the front wheels. The regular 4-cylinder engine is no slouch either, delivering 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic, with a 6-speed manual on the Sport trim.

The new 6 is a beautiful sedan, longer and sportier than most in its price range. The 6 got a new front grille and new 17- and 19-inch wheel options for 2018. LED headlights and taillights are also new. Smart City Brake Support is now standard on all models, which helps the 6 get 5-star safety ratings from the government and a Top Safety Pick from the insurance industry

On the road, the Mazda6 is a driver’s car with a balanced, composed ride. And with the new turbo-4, the car can leap from a stop and take you all the way to its top speed of 149 miles per hour.

The cabin is quiet and spacious with quality materials throughout. It’s not pretentious at all, but well-stated with Ultrasuede trim and soft touches in all the right places. The 8-inch touchscreen monitor extends up from the top of the center stack and features the new 360-degree surround camera system, which works via four cameras, one in front, one in back and one each on the side mirrors. The effect is a bird’s eye view all around the car. It’s totally reliable for tight parking spaces and backing up.

A controller knob on the console governs most vehicle systems, with fast buttons for music, home and navigations across the top. It’s a clean look for the console but doing things with the controller takes a little longer than more buttons would.

Connectivity and infotainment are from Mazda Connect, which relies heavily on the controller. The touchscreen monitor is clear and crisp. The only knock I have inside the cabin is the placement of connectivity ports, which are located on the back side of the center console box. It’s a difficult spot to reach, and the connectors would be better in the storage cubby at the bottom of the center stack. Included are two USB ports, an AUX jack and a 12v plug.

Mazda made a lot of changes to the 6 for 2018, including redesigned seats that are firm and comfortable. Contrast stitching on the seats and dashboard are a nice touch. My test Signature 6 had Nappa leather trimmed seats that were heated and ventilated. This top-end trim also had standard dual-zone air, a fantastic heads-up display system, automatic LED headlights, keyless entry with pushbutton start, rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, 19-inch wheels and a navigation system.

Headroom in the front seats is 38.4 inches, which is good enough for my 6-foot-1 frame. In back it’s 37.1 inches. Rear seat legroom is 38.7 inches.

Pricing for the 2018 Mazda6 starts at $21,950 for the Sport trim with a 6-speed manual transmission. The Touring model starts at $25,700, the Grand Touring model starts at $29,200, the Grand Touring Reserve starts at $31,270, and my Signature test car had an MSRP of $34,750.

The Mazda6 is a safe, comfortable and fuel-efficient car that deserves to be on your test drive list if you’re in the market for a mid-size sedan.

2018 Mazda6 Signature

Engine:

2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder

Horsepower/Torque:

227/310 lb.-ft.

Transmission:

6-speed automatic

MSRP:

$34,750 ($36,435 with options & freight)

EPA mileage estimates:

23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26 mpg combined

Estimated highway range:

508 miles

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