Mazda, following in the lead set by Honda and Toyota, is rolling out an updated family sedan for 2018 in a significantly refreshed version of its Mazda6.
It's not a wheels-up redesign like those the Accord and Camry have enjoyed, but the car Mazda revealed at the L.A. auto show in November sported touched-up styling inside and out as well as some new stuff under the hood.
The really big deal in there is the new option of a 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, borrowed from the CX-9 crossover, that lends this handsome sedan up to 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.
A 2.5L four-cylinder engine once again provides motivation for lower trim levels and while its output is similar to last year's motor, it aims to save fuel with engineering tweaks to reduce friction and a cylinder deactivation system that shuts down half the motor under light throttle at speeds between 40 and 80 km/h.
As before, the Mazda6 comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a six-speed automatic with the naturally aspirated motor -- one of few family cars left that offers such a choice -- while the turbo engine gets the automatic exclusively.
The redesign brings some new technology too, in the form of a new standard 8.0-inch infotainment display (an inch larger than last year), plus available goodies like a configurable 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster and a redone head-up display that projects onto the windshield. New safety items include a 360-degree camera system and radar cruise control with stop-and-go functionality.
This year also brings ventilated front seats as an option for the first time, and winter driving is made a bit easier with the addition of a windshield wiper de-icer.
Mazda has amped up the luxury factor here by adding a new Signature top-level trim that brings real wood accents, Nappa leather and ultrasuede upholstery to create a car that aspires to a cut above most of Mazda's competitors in the family car class.
What hasn't changed is that Mazda still has one of the best-looking sedans on the market, hamstrung only by an interior that's a little tighter than those in the latest Accord and Camry, the benchmark cars in this category.