"C/Net is wrong here - Mazda really beats the Accord"4.5 starson by buckyb73
Pros: Styling, tech features, comfort, economy, performance - Beats all it competitors hands down
Cons: No auto door locks, dash lighting in low light conditions (near sunset, but not after dark) needs improving - Otherwise, a great car
Summary: Having downsized from a SUV to a mid-size sedan, I did a thorough study of many cars in the Mazda 6 class before deciding on the Mazda. In fact, I didn't originally consider the Mazda 6 in my analysis until near the end of my study, which I think points out Mazda's single biggest problem - lack of exposure to the public when compared to Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Chevy. However, when compared side by side to other cars in its class, almost all auto experts have come to the conclusion that the Mazda is a class leader, regardless of what I consider to be a very biased, poor review by C/Net.
In my analysis of 5 cars I considered (Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, and Chevy Malibu), I took almost 2 months of research, reading, and test driving before I came to a choice for my car. Two cars, the Altima and the Malibu, were quickly eliminated for numerous reasons, especially after test driving them. I eliminated the Camry next for the reason given above by C/Net, as I found the Toyota totally devoid of any character, a boring, Cutlass like everyman car that excelled in nothing other than banality. I felt that my analysis was leading me to the Accord, and was ready to go with one until I checked out the Mazda 6. Everything changed then, and I think C/Net needs to compare these 2 autos at the same time, and see if they stick with their current review of the Mazda 6. I don't think they could justify it if they did a side by side test.
First of all, styling-wise, for C/Net to call the Mazda "boring" compared to the bulbous Accord is laughable. In fact, to give the Accord a 9.0 for styling is a joke. Perhaps the C/Net reviewers have overdosed on their Geritol. Dimensionally, both cars are very comparable, both inside and out. The Honda has about 1/2" more front headroom, but other than that, these cars are pretty much the same. The Mazda really excels over the Honda with a much bigger truck that much more usable (no rounded wheel well intrusions and non-intruding trunk lid hinges), and Mazda's split folding back seat is much more versatile than the Honda non-split folding back seat. Inside, both cars are comfortable and inviting, but again, the Mazda edges out the Accord in several important areas. While the gauges on both cars are great, the center stack of the Honda is a confusing mishmash of almost 70 buttons that are far from intuative and require constant studying to learn how to use. The Mazda dash is much cleaner and easier to use and lack nothing that the Honda has - it is simply better executed in the Mazda. I also believe that the interior style of the Mazda is nicer in terms of better leather and style than in the Honda. The Mazda sound system is also vastly superior to the Accord, both in terms of sound and ease of use. The Mazda aslo beats the comparably priced Accord in features, offering Bluetooth audio (not just phone), blind spot monitoring system, xenon headlights, push button start, and rain-sensing wipers, all of which Honda does not offer.
Performance-wise, both cars are very similar. The Honda beats the Mazda slightly in MPG ratings, but at a cost. When test driving both from the same dealership, I found the Honda to have more road noise, especially at highway speeds. While Honda boast the variable cylinder management system (6,4, or 3 cylinder operation depending on your needs at the time), I found their claims that "when the switching occurs, it is virtually seamless" to be far from true. Especially when going from less cylinders to more, the hesitancy on 4 Hondas I test drove was very noticeable to the point of being a litlle scary. Maybe I just test drove some poorly tuned vehicles, but I really wasn't impressed, as I have always found great quality in other Honda products (I own Honda outboard motors, lawn mower, snow blower, and jet-ski). The Mazda was slightly louder in accelerating from a stop, but was quieter overall in all other ways. Road handling on both vehicles were similar.
In summary, design-wise, feature-wise, and style-wise, the Mazda 6 was clearly superior to the Accord. Performance-wise, it was much closer, with both performing well, but I founnd the VCM system on the Honda to be a little quirky to the point of being irritating.
I, more than anyone, was surprised how well the Mazda 6 did compared to the Accord, as I never thought I would end up buying a Mazda, but I did. I have owned it for over a year now, with 30,000+ mile on it, and have had absolutely zero problems to date.
Do yourself a favor and check out the Mazda 6 if you are interested in buying a car in this class. You won't be disappointed. Please do not let C/Net bland review deter you. Test drive one and see for yourself.
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