Ride & Handling

In keeping with Mazda's tagline of offering "Zoom-Zoom" cars, the Mazda6's suspension tuning is on the firm side for a midsize sedan; if you've driven some of its competitors, it's much more similar to a Nissan Altima's taut ride than a Toyota Camry's relaxed suspension. While this kind of suspension tuning means you're more likely to feel bumps or holes in the road Ч some of which hit quite hard Ч it pays off when you get on a winding country road, where the Mazda6 handles corners quite nicely and resists body roll.

Wheels and tires can affect a car's ride quality, and the Mazda6 is offered with a number of different setups. Sixteen-inch steel wheels are standard, but I tested cars with 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels. The sedan with the 18-inch rims Ч which also have the lowest-series tires Ч had a slightly firmer ride than the one with 17-inch wheels and taller tires.

It doesn't take much muscle to guide the Mazda6 through corners, as its steering effort is on the light side. It's very responsive, though, as the smallest turns of the wheel make the car change direction. My one complaint with the setup is that it's too easy to turn the wheel when cruising along on, say, the highway. At times like this, it's nice to have the steering wheel feel a little heavier for enhanced straight-line tracking. The Mazda6's steering system doesn't have this sensation, though, which opens up the possibility for unwanted skittishness.

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