Larger Dimensions, Larger Cabin

One of the big changes for the second-generation Mazda6 is that the U.S. gets its own version that's been enlarged to meet the demands of the American market, according to Mazda. Even though the U.S. and European Mazda6s look remarkably similar, they have significantly different dimensions; the U.S. version is 193.7 inches long, 72.4 inches wide and 57.9 inches tall, making it 7.3 inches longer, 1.7 inches wider and 1.2 inches taller than the European model. That model is similar in size to the previous-generation U.S. Mazda6.

The primary benefit of a bigger car should be more room for passengers, and that's how it adds up for the new Mazda6, which has 101.9 cubic feet of passenger volume, compared to 96.1 cubic feet in the prior car. The new Mazda6 beats the old one in terms of legroom, headroom, hip room and shoulder room, too.

In addition to its larger dimensions, the new Mazda6 has a redesigned interior. It features mostly upscale materials, which helps the car keep pace with the Accord's high-quality interior, but the shiny, hard plastic trim on the lower part of the dash seems out of place in a newly upgraded model.

If you're familiar with the previous Mazda6 you'll note the new design's evolutionary nature. Where the old cabin had an upright center control panel, the one in the new sedan is angled outward. The upper portion of the dashboard has a nicely textured soft-touch surface, and below it my Grand Touring test car had interesting black-grained trim, which added some visual appeal to the cabin.

The front bucket seats offer firm cushioning that doesn't have a lot of give to it. Even though the Mazda6 is positioned as a sport sedan, the bucket seats don't have a lot of side bolstering, but I didn't wish for more when I drove it. Cloth seats are standard and leather-upholstered ones are optional.

Though the backseat feels a little smaller than the Accord's or Camry's, the difference is minimal, as the Mazda6 offers good space for taller adults, and the backrest is positioned at a comfortable angle.

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