Used Mazda 6 2003-2008 review

Overall rating:4 Star Rating: Recommended
Updated: April 2014
2004 Mazda 6 wagon

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 sporty-looking 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 less expensive to maintain. The wagon only comes with the V6. What is rare in the mid-size class, Mazda 6 is also comes with a manual transmission that is available in both 4-cylinder and V6 models. The North-American 2003-2008 Mazda 6 was produced in Flat Rock, Michigan. On the road, the 6 handles much better than most of the competitors, especially on the highway, but the turning radius is not very good. Maintenance costs are average for the class. Reliability is not too bad, but not at the top of the class. Read more below.


Interior:

Mazda 6 interior

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.


Engine and transmission:

Mazda 6 3.0L V6 engine

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: As we already mentioned, the Mazda 6 handles very well thanks to its sporty suspension. The ride is smooth and quiet, yet you still have excellent road feel. Steering is precise and responsive, with a well-defined center position. Mazda 6 is one of those cars that is very comfortable on long highway trips.  The one thing that could be better is the turning radius, which is quite large: 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: Sporty styling, sharp interior, excellent handling, comfortable ride, comes as sedan, sporty hatchback or wagon, available Bose audio system, affordable price, available with a manual transmission.

Cons: Fuel economy, turning radius, poor crash test scores without side airbags

Fuel Economy: According to the EPA, the 2007 4-cylinder Mazda 6 sedan is rated at 21/28 mpg or 11.2/8.4 L/100 km city/highway, which means you can get roughly 414 miles or 660 km to a tank. The 2007 Mazda 6 V6 automatic gets 17 mpg city,  25 mpg highway (13.8/9.4 L/100 km).

Competitors: Among competitors, Ford Fusion is probably the closest, as it rides on the same platform and is equipped with the same 4-cylinder and V6 engines. Toyota Camry is roomier and offers softer, quieter ride, although it's definitely not as sporty. Honda Accord is better on gas and more reliable, although it's also more of a family sedan than a sporty car. Nissan Altima is somewhat similar, although not everyone likes the continuously-variable transmission (CVT), which is the only automatic choice in the Altima. Chevrolet Malibu is less expensive, but its reliability records are poor. Acura TL is another mid size that is sporty and reliable, but it is more expensive.

2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6:

2006 Mazdaspeed6

The Speed6, although very rare, should not be overlooked if your are looking for a fast reasonably-priced sports car with all-wheel drive. Mazdaspeed6 comes only as a sedan; it's equipped with a manual transmission and a turbocharged 2.3L direct-injected engine. It's an excellent car to drive, but expect higher than average maintenance costs. The turbocharged engine also needs to be religiously maintained to last. You'd also be well advised to use premium synthetic oil to avoid problems with a turbocharger.

Mazda 6 reliability and common problems: For the most part, Mazda 6 has been reliable, but transmission issues are reported often. When test-driving a used Mazda 6, pay particular attention how the automatic transmission shifts. Read more: How to spot transmission problems during a test drive. 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. 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. A failed wheel bearing may be the source of a humming or growling noise that gets louder at higher speeds.

Mazda 6 owner tips: In some 2006, 2007 Mazda 6 the passenger side window might stop working after the battery was disconnected or drained. The power window initialization procedure must be performed: with the ignition "ON" open the driver's window fully, then close holding the switch up for two more seconds after the window is fully closed. Repeat with each window.
The clunking or popping felt in the steering wheel could be caused by the lack of lubrication in the intermediate steering 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. The steering shaft in question is located above the pedals under the steering column.
In a V6 engine, if any of the ignition coils failed, replace all the spark plugs to avoid more coils failing.
Change your transmission fluid if you notice it becomes dark and dirty. Read out simple maintenance checklist to learn how to check the automatic transmission fluid and more.
Faded headlights may be restored using a very simple technique; read more here.
In a V6-model, a burn oil smell can be caused by oil leaks from the valve cover gaskets and other sources. Completely eliminating all the leaks could be quite expensive, so we would advise to start from replacing the valve cover gaskets.
More on car care:

How to clean car interior How to clean car interior » Simple car maintenance tips Easy car maintenance
checklist with photos »


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. Read our illustrated used car checklist for more tips on what to look for. 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 »
Usued car buyer checklist Detailed used car buyer's
checklist with photos »

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)