Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $4,500 – $14,000*


2003 Mazda 6


2004 Mazda


2005 Mazda 6


Mazda 6 interior

Pros:
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Acceleration (4-cylinder)
  • Radio controls

In total refinement, the Mazda 6 ranks a shade behind the pace set by Accord and Camry. Acceleration is tepid in four-cylinder models with automatic; yet overall, the Mazda 6 delivers on its fun-to-drive promise. It’s also as practical as any compact sedan–and even some midsize models. As a result, the Mazda 6 earns a Recommended rating.

Overview

Replacing the 626 sedan, the new front-drive Mazda 6 (actually badged “Mazda6”) was a slightly wider, taller, and heavier sedan with fresh styling and more power. The base “i” model used a new 160-horsepower, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. The uplevel “s” sedan held a 220-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6, versus the 165-hp 2.5-liter V6 in the departed 626.

Both engines teamed with a manual or automatic transmission. The automatic was a four-speed unit on four-cylinder models, but a five-speed with V6s; both had a separate gate for manual shifting.

All models had four-wheel disc brakes. ABS with integrated traction control was standard on V6 models, and optional for four-cylinder sedans. Front side airbags and curtain side airbags were available for all models. So was a Sport Package that included 17-inch alloy wheels instead of steel or 16-inch alloys, plus a rear spoiler and other aero body add-ons.

Standard equipment included a single-disc CD player, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, and a split-folding rear seatback. V6s added automatic climate control. Options included a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, in-dash CD changer, and Bose audio. V6s came with a power driver’s seat.

The Mazda 6 competed against both compact and midsize cars, in power as well as marketing focus. Rivals included the Ford Taurus, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry; and later, the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu.

Yearly Updates

2004 6
Wagon and hatchback body styles joined the original Mazda 6 sedan in the spring of 2004. Seventeen-inch wheels were standard on “s” models, and optional for “i” versions. The available Sport Package included special interior trim.
2005 6
Antilock braking and traction control were standard on all 2005 models, and a six-speed automatic transmission replaced the five-speed unit for “s” versions. Mazda’s three body styles came in base, Sport, and Grand Touring trim levels.
2006 6
An available 6-speed automatic transmission and a new MazdaSpeed performance model highlighted Mazda’s 2006 midsize car lineup. MazdaSpeeds were sedans with all-wheel drive and a 274-hp turbocharged 4-cyl. MazdaSpeeds came only with a 6-speed manual and included a sport suspension and specific trim.
2007 6
Curtain side airbags were standard for 2007 on all versions of Mazda’s midsize cars.
2008 6
The 2008 Mazda 6 was little changed, but the wagon and MazdaSpeed models were discontinued this year.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Mazda 6 models have come with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower, or a 3.0-liter V6 rated at 220 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission has been standard. The optional automatic transmission is a four-speed for four-cylinder models or a five-speed for V6 versions. A six-speed automatic replaced the five-speed in 2005, for “s” sedans. For 2006, the MazdaSpeed6 performance model gets a 274-hp turbocharged 4-cyl engine with a 6-speed manual transmission.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/138
Engine HP 160
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 155
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
25/32
23/29
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 220
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 192
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
5-speed automatic
6-speed automatic
20/27
19/27
20/27
20.9

Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/138
Engine HP 274
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 280
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual

19/25

Road Test

Pleasantly peppy with the four-cylinder engine and manual transmission, a Mazda 6 is dull but acceptable with four-cylinder/automatic. The automatic’s manual-shift feature can be used to restore some lost sparkle. V6 versions don’t exactly spring off the line, and need high rpm to really feel brisk. But they’re lively enough with either transmission. A test manual-shift “s” sedan reached 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. The automatic is smoothly responsive, whereas the manual gearbox has coarse shift action.

Manual-shift V6 sedans have averaged 20.9 mpg in mixed city/highway use, and 18.2 mpg with gas-guzzling performance runs. A four-cylinder/manual-shift sedan managed 22.3 mpg. Mazda recommends regular-grade fuel for both engines.

The Mazda 6 suspension is taut, but generally absorbent and comfortably controlled, even with 17-inch tires. Some sharp reaction to pavement seams occurs at highway speeds.

Mazda aims for sport-sedan moves, and the “6” does feel agile and composed. Suspension settings are essentially the same for each trim level, though 17-inch tires deliver greater grip in fast turns. Modest body lean is evident in curves, but steering is responsive. Great straight-line tracking is a bonus, but the V6 model pulls mildly to the side during rapid acceleration. A wide turning circle impairs close-quarters maneuverability. Brakes are strong, with progressive action.

Both engines are relaxed while cruising, and emit hard-acceleration growls. Neither is super-quiet. Rough-surface tire noise is moderate but prominent with 17-inch treads, but sedans are slightly better than hatchbacks or wagons at muffling road sounds. Wind rush is modest.

Unobstructed gauges are pleasing, but not everyone likes the red Grand Touring lighting. Main climate controls are simple knobs, but a silvery finish makes their markings tough to read in daylight. Audio controls have the same problem, and are also too “busy.” Climate and audio settings display near the center dashtop, remote from the controls themselves. The interior has nicely padded surfaces above door-handle level, but it disappoints with hard, thin-feeling plastic panels below.

Firm front seats are quite comfortable, but some drivers might prefer a longer cushion. Others may desire better lateral support in swift turns. Six-footers have ample leg room and adequate head room. The standard tilt/telescopic steering wheel is a welcome plus, but might not tilt high enough for tall drivers. The optional rear spoiler bisects the rearward view. Wagons provide easy all-around visibility.

Seat support in back is nothing special, on slightly soft cushions. Toe space is good, and leg room exceeds the norm unless front seats are moved well back. Head room is adequate. Entry/exit is easy enough, despite narrow thresholds and doors that could open wider. Center shoulder belts in wagons and hatchbacks are awkward to find and fasten.

The sedan’s flat-floor trunk is nicely finished and roomy. Strut-type lid hinges don’t steal space or threaten cargo, but the opening is not shaped to accept bulky objects. Spring-loaded rear seatbacks with in-trunk or cargo-area releases flop forward without assistance, but don’t quite lie flat. The lidded dashtop bin contributes to above-average interior storage space. Hatchbacks and wagons have spacious, nicely trimmed cargo bays, plus rear under-floor storage.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2004 Mazda 6i w/automatic

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 58

Specifications

4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
105.3 186.8 70.1 56.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
58.7 18.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.7 36.7 42.3 36.5
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
105.3 186.8 70.1 56.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.2 18.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.7 37.1 42.3 36.5
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
105.3 187.8 70.1 57.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
60.4 18.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.7 38.6 42.3 36.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2003 6 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Rear Passenger Injury - 4
80%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Brake noise
Description: The front brakes may chatter or oscillate and make a groaning sound in low-speed turns requiring the rotors to be machined and revised brake pads installed. (2003-04)
Climate control
Description: The heating and ventilation system may not go into recirculation mode due to electrical problem in the climate control unit. (2003-06)
Engine misfire
Description: Engine may run rough or fail to start if cam timing shifts due to lack of key on crankshaft sprocket. (2003)
Engine noise
Description: A ticking noise from the 3.0L engine, often described as a lifter tick, requires the removal and reinstallation of the camshaft caps. (2003-05)
Engine stalling
Description: Engine stumbles and may die and not restart at altitudes above 5,000 ft. when climbing hills in summer due to fuel pump cavitation. (2003-06)
Engine stalling
Description: The 2.3L engine may stall at low speed if the throttle is gently depressed then released requiring reflash of the engine control computer. (2004-05)
Oil leak
Description: If the wrong type of oil filter wrench is used, the oil filter cartridge housing can get distorted causing a leak. (2003-05)
Seat
Description: The lumbar adjustment fails. (2006-07)
Steering noise
Description: A popping noise may come from the front end whenever the steering wheel is turned due to a problem with the spring insulators which have to be replaced. (2003-04)
Headlights
Description: The fog light socket falls out (and usually into the bumper) due to excessive heat which can also burn the bumper and were being recalled to install springs to hold the socket in place. (2003)
None
Description: The navigation system may display the wrong map or no map if the vehicle was sold in one location then resold in another, especially if the battery was disconnected. (2006-07)

Recall History

2003 Mazda6
Description: An improper fuel sender unit may cause a break in the seal and result in a fuel leak. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.
2003-2004 Mazda6
Description: Passenger-side frontal airbag inflator may rupture upon deployment and spray metal fragments at the passenger.
2004 Mazda6
Description: Right and/or left rear seat belts may not lock properly, due to missing retaining pins.
2007-08 6 with California emission specs
Description: The PVC protective coating on the outside of the fuel tank may have been damaged during the assembly process which may result in reduced corrosion resistance, perforation of the fuel tank, and fuel leakage. Fuel leakage in the presence of an ignition source could result in a fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.