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The refined affordable midsize sedan is better than ever this year, thanks to excellent design and recent upgrades

COURTESY MAZDA NORTH AMERICA - The 2019 Mazda6 is the best looking midsize sedan on the market at any price.On paper the 2019 Mazda6 is an old car. The current generation debuted in 2012 and has not been significantly revised since then, although it was refreshed in 2014 and refreshed again in 2018.

Despite that, the midsize sedan is still one of the most competitive cars in its class — and even more now because of the addition of an optional turbocharged engine last year and more sound deadening material this year.

As a result, the new Mazda6 with the turbo engine is both more fun and quieter to drive than ever before.

COURTESY MAZDA NORTH AMERICA - The interior design of the 2019 Mazda6 is refreshingly simple and clean. The materials are first rate, and Napa leather trimmed sport seats are available.

But the real secret to the success of the current Mazda6 is that it was so well designed in the first place. It is easily the most attractive midsize sedan on the market, regardless of price. The exterior lines are so fluid they will never look dated.

The interior also impresses with the simplicity of its design and the high quality of its materials. Unlike many of other cars, drivers are not distracted with a complicated mass of knobs and buttons or a complex touch pad for controlling the infotainment system. A simple -to-use knob on the center console does the trick.

COURTESY MAZDA NORTH AMERICA - The knob located behind the shift lever controls the infortainment system. The switch to the left activates the Sport mode, which produces noticeable performance gains.

And, although the base 2.5-liter four cylinder engine is smooth and economical, the turbocharged 2.5 version from CX-9 crossover is powerful right off the line. The additional 63 horsepower finally gives the Mazda6 the "zoom zoom" feel that first made the company famous.

The biggest drawback is that the turbo is only available in the higher, more expensive trim levels. But even our top-of-the-line Signature edition cost thousands less than any equivalent European sport sedan, while delivering about as much driving satisfaction.

Mazda is bucking a trend my offering such an improved sedan. Some companies are dropping their cars because consumers now prefer crossovers that combine car-like rides with SUV practicality. A number of midsize cars are going out of production, including the Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion, both of which were perfectly agreeable affordable family cars.

COURTESY MAZDA NORTH AMERICA - Even the rear end of the 2019 Mazda6 is beautifully styled, with a discrete spoiler.

Mazda is chasing that market, too, by offering a range of the subcompact CX-3, compact CX-5 and midsize CX-9. It will even offer a new crossover, the CX-30, slotting between the CX-3 and CX-5 in 2020. But it is not dropping its car line. in fact, it completely redesigned the compact Mazda3 to rave reviews this year.

A the same time, Mazda is one of the few companies that does not yet offer a hybrid or electric vehicle. It is long insisted that gas engines can be both economical and powerful if they are carefully designed and manufactured. The company was even slower than some to offer turbocharged versions of some of its vehicles, beginning with the CX-9, followed by the Mazda6 last year, and now adding this CX-5 this year.

Although unconventional, Mazda is succeeding by making affordable vehicles that offer premium driving experiences. None of them may be the best at any one particular thing, but they are all well balanced and don't feel like they will ever go out of date. That is why the 2019 Mazda6 will make you fall in love with cars all over again.

COURTESY MAZDA NORTH AMERICA - It is easy to see the upright infortainment screen in the 2019 Mazda6 without taking your eyes off the road too long.

2019 Mazda6 Signature

Base price: $35,100

Price as tested: $36,220

Type: Midsize sedan

Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (250 hp, 310 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 23/31

Overall length: 192.7 inches

Curb weight: 3,560 pounds

Final assembly: Hofu, Japan

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