Used Mazda 2003-2008 6 review

Overall rating:4 Star Rating: Recommended
Updated: August 12, 2013
2004 Mazda 6 wagon
2004 Mazda 6 Sport Wagon. Click for larger photo.

Mazda 6 is probably the only sporty mid-size car that you can find for a reasonable price. The 6 comes as a sedan, hatchback or wagon. You can choose between a 4-cylinder or V6 engine. The V6 is not super fast, but has enough power. The 4-cylinder is better on gas and cheaper to maintain. The wagon only comes with the V6. The interior is sporty and sharp but not the most roomy in the class. The front legroom is good, but in models with a sunroof tall drivers may find the headroom a bit tight. Visibility is good all around. Interior materials are pretty good. The one thing that stands out is the Bose audio system with the subwoofer that is available in top models; it sounds excellent. In a hatchback and wagon, rear seats fold flat creating a huge cargo space. On the road, the 6 handles very well, especially on the highway, but the turning radius is not very good. We've done some research for used car buyers on Mazda 6 reliability and common problems, read below.

Mazda 6 3.0L V6 engine
Mazda6 3.0L V6 engine
Mazda 6 interior
2004 Mazda 6 interior

Powertrain: The base 4-cylinder engine is the 2.3L 160-hp 4-cylinder Mazda MZR DOHC motor. It's a simple and reliable engine; with good maintenance it shouldn't give you too many problems. The V6 is the 220-hp 3.0L Ford Duratec DOHC engine. The V6 is known for oil leaks, but otherwise is pretty reliable and can easily last for over 200,000 miles with proper care. Both engines are equipped with a timing chain; there is no timing belt to worry about. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual and a four- or five-speed automatic. Late models have a 6-speed automatic.

Handling and Performance: Mazda 6 handles better than most mid-size cars. The ride is smooth and quiet, yet you still have excellent road feel. Steering is precise and responsive. Mazda 6 is one of those cars that will be comfortable on a long highway trip.  The one thing that could be better is the turning radius (38.7 ft. curb to curb).

Safety: Mazda 6 has disc brakes on all four wheels. Antilock brakes (ABS) were optional in early models, standard from 2005. Traction control, side airbags, side curtain airbags are standard from 2007. In the NHTSA frontal crash tests, the 2003-2008 Mazda 6 got five stars for both the driver and the front passenger. In the side-impact crash tests, the 2003-2006 Mazda 6 without side airbags received three stars for the front and four stars for the rear passenger protection. The 2006-2008 model with side airbags was given four stars for both the front and the rear.

Pros: Sleek styling, sporty interior, excellent handling, comfortable ride, comes as sedan, sporty hatchback or wagon, available Bose audio system, affordable price.

Cons: Fuel economy, turning radius, oil leaks in V6, poor crash test scores without side airbags.

2007 Family cars: (US MPG): City Highway
Nissan Altima 4-cyl, auto 23 31
Honda Accord 4-cyl, auto 21 31
Toyota Camry 4-cyl, auto 21 30
Mazda 6 4-cyl, auto 21 28
Ford Fusion 4 cyl, auto 22 29
Mazda 6 V6, auto 17 25

Fuel Economy: The EPA rates the 2007 4-cylinder Mazda 6 sedan at 21/28 mpg or 11.2/8.4 L/100 km city/highway. The 2007 V6 gets 17 mpg city,  25 mpg highway (13.8/9.4 L/100 km).

Reliability and common problems: For the most part, Mazda 6 has been reliable, but transmission issues are reported often. It might be a good idea to stay away from the 2003 model. In a V6, misfiring could be caused by a bad ignition coil. The repair involves replacing the faulty ignition coil and all spark plugs. A clunking or popping felt in the steering wheel could be caused by lack of lubrication in the intermediate shaft splines in the steering column. There was a technical service bulletin (TSB) on this issue and the repair is very simple; the steering shaft splines need to be lubricated. A faulty or clogged purge valve (solenoid) can cause the “Check Engine” light to come on. A purge valve is easy to replace and is not very expensive. Oil leaks from a valve cover and oil pan gaskets are common in a V6.
Many DIY repairs are described at this forum

What to look for when buying a used Mazda 6: When checking a used Mazda 6, test the air conditioner, see if the center display works. We noticed that in some high-mileage models parts of the center display don't work. Check under the hood; a burnt oil smell in a V6 is a sign of oil leaks. Check the engine oil level, low oil level may indicate that the engine consumes oil, which is something to avoid in a used car. During the test drive, watch out for a humming noise that may indicate a bad wheel bearing, which is fairly common in these cars. Pay attention to how the automatic transmission shifts between gears. If there is a jolt or delay, avoid the car. Have the car properly inspected by an independent mechanic before buying.
You might also be interested:

How to buy a used car How to buy a used car
step-by-step guide »
Checking transmission How to spot signs of
transmission problems »

Similar cars:
2002-2006 Toyota Camry
2003-2008 Honda Accord

Resources:
Mazda 6 club - plenty of DIY instruction and other information.
Mazda USA - download owner's manual; maintenance schedule, references.
Safety Recalls - NHTSA
Transport Canada - Road Safety Recalls

2005 Mazda 6 specifications

Dimensions:
Overall length:   
sedan, 5-door:
wagon:
Overall height:   
sedan, 5-door:
wagon:
Overall width:
Wheelbase:


186.8 in (4745 mm)
187.8 in (4770 mm)

56.7 in (1440 mm)
57.3 in (1455 mm)
70.1 in (1781 mm)
105.3 in (2675 mm)

Turning circle: (curb to curb)

38.7 ft. (11.8 m)

Engines:
4-cylinder


V6

2.3-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT
160 hp @ 6000 rpm, 155 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

3.0-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 with VVT
220 hp @ 6300 rpm, 192 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm



EPA Estimated Fuel Economy:

2.3L 4-cylinder, manual:


2.3L 4-cylinder, automatic:


3.0L V6 manual:


3.0L V6 automatic:



city: 21 MPG (11.2 L/100km)
hwy: 28 MPG (8.4 L/100km)

city: 20 MPG (11.8 L/100km)
hwy: 26 MPG (9.0 L/100km)

city: 17 MPG (13.8 L/100km)
hwy: 24 MPG (9.8 L/100km)

city: 17 MPG (13.8 L/100km)
hwy: 25 MPG (9.4 L/100km)

Recommended Fuel: Regular unleaded

Fuel Tank Capacity:

18.0 US gallons (68 liters)

Engine oil capacity:
With oil filter change:
2.3L 4-cylinder:
3.0L V6:


4.5 US qt. (4.3L)
6.0 US qt. (5.7L)