I wanted a real wagon, not a hatchback or small SUV. There aren't that many choices, especially not if you want sporty performance and appearance. I considered VWs, Audis, Volvos, and Subarus, but once I drove the Mazda6, my search was over. It has it all...sharp, responsive cornering, quick steering, good looks, and it's so smooth and quiet it's spooky. The interior is also sharp and attractive and seems like it belongs in a much more expensive car. Acceleration from the V6 is surprisingly strong, even with the automatic. My only complaints are that the cloth upholstery is a lint magnet, the gas pedal can be a little tricky at times (you push it a little and the car hardly moves; push it a little more and it takes off with the tires squealing), and the sporty styling cuts into the cargo room a little bit (but it's worth it). Mazda also doesn't recommend towing, but at least most 6 wagons seem to be equipped with roof racks. For the same money, other wagons seem to have much higher miles or are years older. But spending more seemed pointless to me because I couldn't be happier with my Mazda6.
The Mazda 6 stole my heart at first sight and it became the car i wanted to buy after reading some excellent reviews online. The car is directly comparable with Accord and Altima, but based on reviews and test drives i decided i will go for Mazda. In my opinion the car is excellent value for money (i bought the grand touring model), loaded with features and performance. In fact i would comapre it with any BMW. The 2009 model year had a make over and is easily the stylish car in this segment. The interiors and comfort is also top in class. The ride quality and performance are the factors that pushed Mazda ahead. The negative when compared to a Accord was fuel economy and resale value. But if you want a great car to drive then Mazda stands out. Overall never regretted Zoom Zooming in my Mazda 6.
I had recently moved to the USA, and in desperate need of a car. To cut a very long story short I ended up with a choice of 3 cars in the price range I was looking at. Whilst the Mazda was the oldest of the 3 and highest mileage, it cleared the field with looks, bhp, interior comfort and reliability stats. Being from the UK and still relatively young, we all drive small cars, so the transition to the sedan was a shock for me. The car is amazing to drive though, it handles superbly which is more than can be said for most others in its class, and since buying it I've managed an easy 30mpg, and that's not with conservative driving! I also went for a manual transmission, since automatics make the experience of driving boring, and you disconnect with the road. For a car that had 48k miles on it, the clutch felt brand new which says a lot about the quality of the vehicle. I've not had any major problems yet (fingers crossed), but the tire pressure warning light came on during a cold spell of weather. I checked out the pressures and one tire was 2psi below optimal, which just shows the sensors are very sensitive, so don't get too freaked out if this comes on. Also first thing in the morning the power steering system sounds like a growling dog, but once the system has warmed up a bit it's fine. Feedback from passengers is that there's tonnes of space in the back, the ride is smooth and comfortable. The boot (trunk) is huge, you could fit in about 6 sets of golf clubs if needed, and there's plenty of storage space in the main cabin too. Sound system is great, the Aux function to hook up to an mp3 player is really handy, and the general look of the radio, climate control and dash are all pretty sweet. From what I understand newer models look even better. One down side i would say is there's no trip computer on mine. I know I can get about 450 miles out of the 15 gallon tank, but not having a countdown "mileage left in the tank" readout doesn't fill me with confidence sometimes when I've done 440 miles. It'd also be nice to see instantaneous mpg readings, average mpg and speed etc, but you can live without it. Again, this is something that is probably featured on newer models. I'd describe my Maxda 6i as a sports coupe - it certainly feels like one, and in terms of feel, performance and comfort, it is certainly on a par with Audi A4/A5s, BMW 3 & 5 series and the VW coupe range. All it needs is some decent looking alloys, since the stock ones don't do it any favours, and you're all set!