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Posted: October 28, 2013

Executive wheels: Beauty and the beast

A middling Mazda and hot, hot Hyundai

Jeff Rundles

2013 HYUNDAI GENESIS COUPE 3.8 TRACK M/T

2014 MAZDA6 GRAND TOURING AT

I place these two cars together because they are very similarly priced, although after that, they are completely different. The Mazda 6 is a four-door, five-passenger family sedan, while the Hyundai Genesis is a two-door coupe. If the low- to mid-$30s is in your price range, and you have some flexibility in the type of car you drive, then both of these should at least be on the test-drive list.

The Mazda 6 is quite beautiful. This 2014 model is the third generation of the 6 model introduced in 2002 and up until this point the Mazda 6 was a well-made, but relatively pedestrian competitor to the Honda Accord, the Toyota Camry, Nissan Maxima, the Hyundai Sonata, and the Kia Optima – it even really looked like them, which is no accident (to some extent, everyone wants to look like a Toyota).  The company’s design team has come up with a winner here. Everywhere I went, people admired the car (which has never happened before in a Mazda) and asked what it was.

But after that, it’s another well-made but relatively pedestrian family sedan. Mazda, in 2011, introduced something on its vehicle called Skyactiv Technology, a technology for boosting gas mileage efficiency while maintaining some guts. They have achieved that here. This 6, equipped with a 2.5-liter I4 engine with some 184 horsepower, boasts a 28 mpg city/40 mpg highway mileage – just about the best in the class – and it maintains some get-up-and-go. It's peppy in city driving and on the highway, even in the mountains. 

But after that, I wasn’t wowed. The interior is handsome and comfortable, there is plenty of room inside (and in the trunk), and I liked the operation of all the systems; climate, music, etc. I especially liked that they went with the old turn-dials for temperature and fan speed. This Mazda 6 is a nice package, and worthy of a look if this is the type of car you are after.

But there’s nothing here that would push me toward it.  I like it a little more than the Nissan Maxima and Altima, but it doesn’t approach what I might get with the Honda and Toyota – solid reputations, solid and reliable re-sale values – and both Kia and Hyundai in recent years offer a lot of car for the money with excellent warranties.

The other bright spot for the Mazda 6 is what you get for the money. There are five trims offered in the Mazda 6 line, the low end with a base price of $20,990, with the same engine, but on the Grand Touring edition which I drove they have packed it up with a lot of standards. A base price of $29,695 includes leather-trimmed power seats, 5.8” touch screen display, navigation, a Bose 11-speaker sound system (very nice) bi-xenon headlights, alarm system, ABS brakes – and all of the bells and whistles you’d expect on much fancier cars.

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Jeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Email him at jrundles@cobizmag.com.

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