2014 Mazda6

What a turnaround between generations. I had no love for the previous-generation Mazda6, but this new generation gets awesomer (yeah, I’m making it a word) every time I drive it. This time I had the opportunity to drive a Touring model with the 6-speed manual transmission, and it was amazing. The 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder Skyactiv-G engine is phenomenal, delivering 184 horsepower and 185 pound feet of torque. I did not find it lacking at all in the power department, which was definitely a complaint I had with the previous generation. Mated to the manual, this is one fun car. The previous test car I had was an automatic, which was also nice, but I’ll take the manual any day. The biggest change I noticed: Interior quietness. I drove with the radio off for much of the test week just to listen to the silence. The styling is edgy and attractive, and all around, I really liked this car. I had one teeny-tiny rant in the form of making the car truly keyless, but otherwise, I can’t think of anything I didn’t like.

Cargo volume is also pretty decent, with plenty of room for luggage, school stuff and even strollers and diaper bags. However, one thing of note: The opening to the trunk seems a bit narrow. So, if you do haul around strollers or golf bags on a regular basis, you’ll probably want to test how easy it is to get them in and out of the trunk – or if they’ll even fit in the opening – before buying.

Base price: $19,940
As-tested price: $25,010
Cargo volume: 14.8 cubic-feet
Ciminillos: 9

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