We pit the latest contender against a renowned favourite With players like the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and one of my personal favourites, the Kia Optima, there isn't really a "bad" choice.
When the Honda Accord was redesigned for the 2013 model year, it was given a ridiculous amount of praise. Deservedly so; it’s a brilliant car. The midsize sedan class is an especially important one. The supposed “cookie cutter” cars seem to be what nearly every family buys nowadays. With players like the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and one of my personal favourites, the Kia Optima, there isn’t really a “bad” choice. This week I had the opportunity to put the all-new 2014 Mazda6 GT up against the 2013 Honda Accord Touring.
One of the most anticipated cars of the year, the all-new Mazda6 promised to deliver. Its 2.5L “SkyActiv” 4-cylinder puts out a modest 184-horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Not bad numbers, but I have fond memories of the V6 + 6-speed manual combination of the first-generation Mazda6. Before I actually drove it, I feared the lack of power that it would have. I was definitely pleasantly surprised. The peppy 6-speed manual on my GT tester definitely gave the car an adequate amount of pep.
The Accord’s 2.4L “EarthDreams” engine puts out 185-horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. Here’s where the enthusiast factor changes a bit, as the Accord I drove came with a CVT. I’ve driven the 6-speed manual Accord, albeit the V6 model, and it’s a wonderful transmission. The SkyActiv on the Mazda definitely gives it the edge in fuel economy though; even when driving it extremely hard, the 6 GT still gave a very reasonable 8L/100km. The Accord doesn’t really like being pushed too hard; the CVT makes some noises that make it sound strained.
Hands down, the Accord wins the interior battle. The driving position is just right, the seats are incredibly comfortable, and the Mazda just feels a notch cheaper. The multimedia systems on both cars are barely “adequate”; the Honda’s feels straight out of 2009, and the Mazda6’s seems to have the same resolution as a Nintendo 64 game. The driving position on the Mazda is pretty good, but I had some trouble getting comfortable for a longer jaunt.
I had a bit of a quibble with the 2014 Mazda6’s multimedia system. I store all of my music (roughly 100GB) on a 160GB iPod Classic. This is the device we use to test the iPod/USB integration in all of the vehicles we test; some newer vehicles have had trouble with newer iPods. The Mazda’s USB port refused to read my iPod as well as a few other devices. Mazda claims it had to be a glitch with my particular test car, and I completely believe them. The systems in all of the other Mazdas I drove this year (including an identical unit in a CX-5) seemed to sync up perfectly with the iPod.
Onto the styling; there’s no denying that the Mazda6 is absolutely gorgeous. Its polarizing styling, swooping lines, and beautiful 19″ wheels definitely make it stand apart from the sea of “Champagne Beige Metallic” sedans around. Especially when compared to some of the more vanilla new contenders (ahem, Malibu?), the car looks great. Between the “Soul Red Mica” Mazda6 GT and the “Modern Steel Metallic” Accord Touring, I’d have to say it’s a draw. The Mazda looks a bit more youthful and sexy, whereas the Accord looks more grown-up and elegant.
Here are the key facts. Both cars are about dead even in terms of performance. Driven correctly, their fuel mileage should be right about the same. Interior volume, exterior dimensions, all that jazz is about even. The Mazda as-tested is $32,495; the Accord at $30,390. If the two large needed to get the top-level Mazda is a huge concern, the Accord is a fantastic buy. I’m not so sure that I could get over the beauty and shifter feel of the Mazda6. I’ve always praised Honda for their snick-snick shifters, but I think Mazda has finally surpassed that. Also, everybody and their mother has owned an Accord at some point or another. I like to be different. Especially since there’s a diesel coming…
2014 Mazda6 GT vs. 2013 Honda Accord Touring Gallery