Went to test drive these fun to drive Family Sedans this weekend. Here are my thoughts.

Let’s start with this beautiful Red Signature Trim on display

Disclaimers: Driving was done on 30mph city roads, 45mph suburban curvy roads, 70mph freeway. I didn’t turn off Stability and Or traction control off on either car. I didn’t test the Audio system, Navigation or any of the safety systems.

Accord 2.0T Sport 10 Speed Automatic MSRP $29.5K

Exterior/Interior: Black exterior Black InteriorRear 3 quarters view is best. I don’t like the grill at all. The Black Chrome on the Sport trims makes the Unibrow tolerable. The interior is good quality, comfortable seats, typical Honda switchgear, and plastics not too bad. Visibility out back was more limited than Mazda6. Out the sides are fine.

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Picture after the test drive

The tacked on screen itself looks less thought out than the one in the Mazda and looks just slapped on, but infotainment is really my least priority in cars unless it’s really bad (Cough CUE Cough) But the overall look, layout and use of the infotainment was better in the Honda. All-digital gauge was crisp but it felt flat as opposed to the Mazda’s tri-gauge with inbuilt screen

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Also points for nice metal volume and tuning knobs on the infotainment screen.Special shout-out to the temperature control knobs that have a high quality finish with a nice click and change from blue to red backlit color as you rotate it. Loved it. One of the things that irked me the most is that how much they’ve lowered the car. I know this is the Sport trim but it was just too low. I had to fall into the seats. The rear seats were worse. Low roofline and low seats make it more difficult to get in and out than the Mazda. Same problem with the new Camry, it is low for older people and parents to bend down and put kids in the car seat etc. No wonder they move to crossovers. Trunk was very spacious.

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The Drive: The car feels big, drives big and it is WIDE. But you get used to it quickly. Driving position feels low even with raising up the seat. It really does try to channel a sports sedan.

Steering was good, as much as you can expect from a mainstream electric steering system.

The 10 speed Auto is really good! Quick shifts and most of the time it is imperceptible. It holds gears in sport mode and manual mode was a very good. You’d think it would be switching gears all the time but no, it’s quite seamless. it works quietly and smoothly and is aggressive when you want it to be. Not a fan of the button shifter system. Sport mode was sportier in this than the Mazda6

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OK the 2.0T. This is more tuned for mid and top range power than low end torque like the Mazda 6. It really wakes up after 3000RPM and there’s definitely some turbo lag. Car and Driver, Motortrend have tested it at 5.7/5.8s 0-60 and it feels that way. It was more fun to merge this on to the highway at 80mph than the Mazda which was fantastic for suburban driving. The Sound was decent. More road and wind noise than the Mazda which was whisper-quiet but I read the EX and Touring trims are quieter. Handling was very flat and ride was actually pretty good despite 19 inch wheels. I couldn’t feel any outward understeer and turn-in was quick in this and the Mazda. I didn’t notice any excessive body roll in both cars.

I can see why people miss the V6 though, nothing matches the immediate response and linear power delivery of a good V6 especially Honda’s V6s.

Had a lot of torque steer , wheel spin but I was really pushing it in Sport mode. Especially evident when you want to turn left in front of traffic, or merging into a 50MPH road from a standstill. Of course you can modulate your right foot to be skillful about it but I am used to managing wheelspin and oversteer on my RWD-based car.

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Mazda6 2.5T Grand Touring MSRP 31K.

Exterior/Interior :Gray exterior, Black interior with brushed metal trim. Best looking midsize sedan, Grill finish is my favorite touch looks very classy. Clean lines on the interior and exterior.

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DIdn’t get a pic but same car

Impeccable interior, cover the logo and you’d think this is an Audi. Brushed metal feel, door handles, leather, buttons all feel premium. Most buttons on Accord also good but not across the board like Mazda

Guages are nice and legible. HUD is excellent no more pop up glass. Shifter feels nice. Visibility is good all-around but like all cars nowadays rear windows are getting smaller.

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Seats are very comfortable and good bolstering. Heated AND ventilated and damn does the Ventilated seats cool your butt, legit.

So much rear space, I am 5’11” I can sit behind myself very comfortably. Rear seat (heated) legroom and headroom is even more than the Accord, HUGE trunk with fold down seats. It sits higher than the Accord so is easier to get in and out both front and rear. Outside of ride height, ease of ingress/egress and AWD there is NO reason IMO to get a compact crossover.

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Exact Trim on the test car

The Drive: Let’s address the elephant in the room. THIS is the ONLY engine that should be in the 6, period. Smooth, responsive Torquey, very very little lag and pulls strong 2-4.5K which is exactly what you need in the city. Max torque is at 2000 RPM. Sounded better than the Accord 2.0T for sure , BUT it runs out of steam at 5K, and I think it might be overhyped by some publications and it’s definitely a 6.5 or lower 0-60 car but not a 5.5s 0-60 car if you see what I mean . Also, could have been filled with 87 Octane so putting out 227HP and not 250HP. The torque comes like an up-heaving wave and not a rushing rapid. They have managed to mitigate understeer and torque steer but it’s definitely there. Handling is very, very flat and secure. But the usual FWD characteristics come up. The car drives small and it was really evident when I drove the Accord after it. Wheel spin, Torque steer and weight over the front wheels of the car. Yes, I could feel all that even though I didn’t take it on curvy backroads. This and the Accord 2.0T are begging for an AWD system. Also, they did it guys! NVH and loudness issue is all but GONE. This is quieter than some luxury sedans at 80MPH. I was floored!

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Electric Steering was good but end of the day it is electric steering after all. Auto was seamless shifted well in manual mode but not lightning fast like the Accord 2.0t.

I am very impressed by this car. If this had a world-class torque-vectoring AWD with the 2.5T, I would choose it over an Audi A4 , Lexus Is300, TLX SH-AWD, Buick Regal/GS , Infiniti Q50 or F30328i. Perhaps not a C300 because I love that Mercedes’ interior.

The 2018 Camry looks and drives ordinary compared to these two IMO. Sure the V6 is nice but the interior and exterior is not up to scratch. Top trim Optima/Sonata are also really good alternatives.

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Final verdict: I will vouch for the 2018 Mazda6 2.5T and say that if you’re in the market for a premium midsize sedan, this wins- THE best midsize sedan out there, Accord 2.0T is a close second. Get the Accord if you want a manual.

Funny thing was after driving these back to back and then my car made me appreciate how much more I appreciate a good-old fashioned stonking NA V6 that revs to 7500RPM in a RWD based sedan with hydraulic steering. Just feels rawer, mechanical and connected, even though it’s only an auto. A manual would have been even better.

Bonus pic of this odd couple at the dealership for your time:

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