Vehicle Overview

Mazda introduced a brand-new sedan in 2003 to replace its 626 model. Expected to rival European cars in ride and handling, the Mazda6 was built on an all-new platform. Developers used competitive models as benchmarks, including the BMW 3 Series, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

In spring 2004, five-door hatchback and wagon body styles joined the lineup. Buyers got a choice of two engines: a 2.3-liter four-cylinder that produced 160 horsepower or a 220-hp, 3.0-liter V-6. One of two automatics or a manual transmission could be installed.

For 2005, entry-level sedans and hatchbacks gained standard antilock brakes and traction control. The available automatic transmission on V-6 models became a six-speed unit. All models except the Mazda6 i base sedan adopted standard side-impact and side curtain-type airbags.

All three body styles received an exterior redesign and interior updates for 2006. The optional Sport AT automatic transmission on four-cylinder models has been upgraded from a four-speed to a five-speed unit. Mazda's V-6 engine now produces 215 hp at 6,000 rpm and 199 pounds-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm.

Performance-oriented Mazdaspeed6 sedans hit showrooms in late summer 2005 as 2006 models. The Mazdaspeed6 is listed separately in the cars.com Research section.

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    Driving Impressions
    The easy-to-drive Mazda3 handles more adeptly than most rivals. The automatic transmission delivers quick, smooth responses. Performance with the larger engine falls short of some sporty compacts, ...

    Interior
    Up to five people can fit inside the Mazda3. The steering column tilts and telescopes, and the instruments sit in a trio of round, recessed nacelles. A ratchet-type mechanism permits seat adjustme ...

    Supplemental Restraint Systems (SRS) Precautions
    The front and side supplemental restraint systems (SRS) include up to 6 air bags. You can locate the various air bags by the use of “SRS AIRBAG” location indicators. These indicators are visible ...