Or­di­nary has never seemed so ex­tra­or­di­nary

The Washington Post Sunday - - CARS - Warren Brown warren.brown@wash­post.com

It is an or­di­nary car, ex­traor­di­nar­ily well done. Put an­other way, it is some­thing dis­cernibly and ap­pre­cia­tively above nor­mal.

It is safe, com­fort­able, at­trac­tive and en­joy­able to drive — es­pe­cially in sub­ur­ban-ur­ban daily com­muter traf­fic, where it also is eco­nom­i­cally sen­si­ble at a reg­u­largrade gaso­line high­way mileage of 35 miles per gal­lon.

It of­fers rea­son­ably af­ford­able fi­nanc­ing at a to­tal man­u­fac­turer’s sug­gested re­tail price of $34,530, in­clud­ing op­tions such as Nappa leather up­hol­stery.

Mazda, the man­u­fac­turer of this week’s sub­ject sedan, the mid­size 2017 Mazda6 Grand Tour­ing, has done some­thing clever here.

“Pre­mium” items are pre­sented as “Stan­dard” equip­ment on the 2017 Mazda6 Grand Tour­ing sedan. That means the car comes with “stan­dard” items that are nor­mally sold as func­tion­ally de­sir­able “op­tions” ev­ery­where else — things such as a rearview cam­era, lane-keep­ing as­sis­tance and lane-de­par­ture warn­ing, blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing, au­to­matic high-beam con­trol (which works per­fectly on very dark roads), and “city brakes” that au­to­mat­i­cally stop or slow the car to pre­vent in­jury to pedes­tri­ans or col­li­sions with ve­hi­cles emerg­ing from side streets.

The items mar­keted as “stan­dard” on the M6 Grand Tour­ing sub­stan­tially raise the price of that model above the base M6 Sport, which starts at $24,195 with on­board nav­i­ga­tion and 19-inch ra­dius al­loy wheels. With 17-inch wheels, the base M6 buyer can start as low as $22,345.

Mod­els in­clude three trim lev­els — the base M6 Sport, mid-grade Tour­ing and top-level Grand Tour­ing.

The ex­tra ad­vanced elec­tronic safety items and the higher price of the Grand Tour­ing model are worth it. A long high­way drive in the car on a day of in­clement weather proves as much.

What is wrong with peo­ple? Are traf­fic safety signs so eas­ily ig­nored? Does 55 miles per hour really mean 80 miles per hour is okay, es­pe­cially on a foggy and rain-slicked road? Does a lane de­mar­cated by dou­ble white lines mean that it can be crossed at any time — bad enough — and done without any sig­nal warn­ing? Is it okay for one driver to slice/ cut in front of an­other, sans sig­nal, and sud­denly stop be­cause the in­tru­sive ma­neu­ver was too fast to safely fol­low a lead­ing ve­hi­cle?

The Mazda6 Grand Tour­ing safely, ef­fec­tively and calmly han­dles all of those daily traf­fic men­aces with the wel­come aid of the ad­vanced elec­tronic safety warn­ings. That means more to me than zoom-zoom driv­ing per­for­mance.

It is rea­son­ably com­pe­tent in the lat­ter re­gard, al­beit unim­pres­sive for some­one who wants au­to­mo­tive per­for­mance en­gi­neered to dom­i­nate a race­track. The M6 Grand Tour­ing, de­spite its lofty name, is not built for that. It is an or­di­nary car — an ac­ces­si­ble, af­ford­able and re­li­able sedan that will serve a small, work­ing family well.

It has power enough — a 2.5 liter, gaso­line four-cylin­der en­gine (184 horsepower, 185 pound-feet of torque). It is fast enough to en­ter any high­way and safely change most lanes. Power to the front-wheel-drive is trans­mit­ted through a stan­dard, tra­di­tional six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion, or to a six-speed au­to­matic that also can be op­er­ated man­u­ally.

It is a to­tally sat­is­fy­ing au­to­mo­bile — well-made, rea­son­ably priced, welle­quipped and well-pre­sented. It will get you where you are go­ing in en­joy­able tran­sit.

It is an ac­ces­si­ble, af­ford­able and re­li­able sedan that will serve a work­ing family well.


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