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The 2019 Mazda6.
The 2019 Mazda6. (Mazda/TNS)

The first Mazda6 rolled out in 2003, continuing the previous Mazda 626 midsize-sedan line.

For 2019, it’s been thoroughly reworked under the sheet metal, offering a refined experience befitting of a more-expensive car, even though prices begin under $24,000.

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This car is designed with the driver in mind and with a commitment to providing a premium driving experience and an active approach to safety, with advanced safety technologies.

For the first time ever in a Mazda, for 2019 the Mazda6 now has as standard the entire suite of i-Activsense safety and driver-assisting technologies.

“Mazda Premium” principles complement the human-centric design and engineering to build readily affordable vehicles capable of competing in a class above, with unparalleled craftsmanship, design, and technologies.

Five trims are available, each model building on the previous: Sport, $23,800; Touring, $25,400; Grand Touring, $29,500; Grand Touring Reserve, $32,000; and Signature, $35,100 — the model I drove.

Grand Touring models and above have a newly available turbocharged SkyActiv-G 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. Cylinder-deactivation is standard on the 2.5T engine in the Sport and Touring models with automatic transmission.

The exterior features a new front grille, new 17-and 19-inch wheel designs, standard auto-leveling LED headlights with integrated fog lights, LED front and rear signal lights, windshield wiper de-icer on Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models, new automatic heated power-folding side mirrors (auto-dimming driver’s side), and newly available Soul Red Crystal exterior paint ($595).

A redesigned interior features seats with high-density, vibration-absorbing urethane foam. There are ventilated front seats in Grand Touring Reserve and Signature, and authentic interior materials in the Signature including Nappa leather, UltraSuede Nu and Japanese Sen Wood.

The Signature model now has a reconfigurable 7.0-inch gauge display and a new 360-degree View Monitor with front and rear parking sensors.

Also new for 2019 are an auto-dimming frameless rear view mirror with Homelink and LED overhead console courtesy lights (Signature models); High Beam Control in Touring models and above; windshield-projected, full-color Active Driving Display in Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models; and a retuned suspension and chassis for improve performance and ride control.

My attractive Machine Gray Metallic ($300) Mazda6 Signature had the turbocharged 2.5 engine and a quick-shifting SkyActiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission — standard for all models — equipped with a Sport Mode to recalibrate the gear ratios for a more-spirited drive.

The turbo engine produces 310 foot-pounds of torque, and from 227 horsepower (87 octane gasoline) to 250 horsepower (93 octane), amplifying the performance for which Mazda vehicles are known.

Signature is the top-of-the-line model, with all the features of the previous four models, and additional premium amenities. The aggressive gunmetal front grille is unique, as well as the Parchment Nappa leather seating, authentic Japanese Sen wood and gilded UltraSuede accents on the doors and dash.

Six exterior colors are available, including Snowflake White Pearl Mica ($200), Sonic Silver Metallic, Deep Crystal Blue Mica (nearly black), and Jet-Black Mica. Interiors for the Signature are Deep Chestnut Nappa leather and Parchment Nappa leather (my tester, with a black headliner).

Mazda6’s “Mature Elegance” theme adds to the subtle sophistication of the Kodo design language Mazda is known for (debuting in 2010), portraying the pent-up energy of an animal about to pounce, with the power in the rear, rather than leaning forward.

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The grille is key, accentuating the look of depth, with wide sweeping silver trim along the bottom, extending under the headlights; a strong framework; low center of gravity; and wide stance. The 19-inch bright-silver-finish alloy wheels, wearing all-season tires, had five split sculpted no-nonsenses pokes.

Inside, my Mazda6 embodied a “less is more” aesthetic, featuring a sleek dashboard stretching across the entire car and emphasizing width, elegance, and a clean horizontal uniformity.

The seats were engineered for less fatigue by maintaining front passengers’ spines in the natural S-shape humans use when standing. Seats were wide, firm, and supportive, heated front and rear, and ventilated in the front. Five people can ride in comfort.

Rear seat backs folded 60/40 to open the 14.7-cubic foot trunk to haul long items — sports gear, DIY supplies, even furniture. The rear seat’s fold-down center armrest had cupholders, storage and two USB charging ports.

A heated leather-wrapped steering wheel had unique stitching, paddle shifters, and controls for audio, phone, MID, and cruise control. Dual-zone automatic climate control included a pollen filter and rear vents.

The Mazda Connect infotainment system featuring an eight-inch full color touch screen supported Mazda Navigation, SiriusXM radio (three-month trial), and Traffic and Travel Link (three-year subscription), a premium BOSE Centerpoint2 Surround Sound 11-speaker audio system with Audio Pilot, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio, the 360-degree view cameras, Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

This system features voice command, a multifunction Commander control on the center console; HD Radio; Aha, Stitcher, and Pandora Internet radio; SMS text-message audio delivery and reply; and a USB audio input.

SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link include information on weather, sports scores, fuel prices, and nearby parking or parking by destination, and more to make each journey easier and more enjoyable.

A stronger emphasis on safety for 2019 leads to more-confident driving. Newly standard i-Activsense safety features include Advanced Smart City Brake Support with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Smart Brake Support, and Mazda Radar Cruise Control with stop-and-go function.

Other standard safety features include Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, rearview camera, and a new seatbelt reminder for all passengers.

Advanced Smart City Brake Support with Pedestrian Detection helps avoid frontal collisions while driving at slow city speeds.

Smart Brake Support detects objects as far ahead as 218 yards and slows the car using two-stage brake operation. Between 9 and 90 mph, it helps by automatically applying the brake if a collision is imminent. Along with the Distance Recognition Support System, Smart Brake Support displays the distance to the vehicle ahead and warns the driver by alarm and warning light if there is a risk of collision.

G-Vectoring Control Plus is also standard for 2019, using engine torque reduction and light braking into and out of turns for better grip and responsiveness, creating a smoother, more-controlled driving experience, even during emergency maneuvers or on slippery surfaces.

Rain-sensing variable-intermittent windshield wipers, a power sliding-glass moon roof with interior sunshade, dual exhaust with bright tips (closer to the outer bumper edge), anti-theft engine immobilizer, 24-hour roadside assistance, and traffic sign recognition were standard on my Mazda6Signature.

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A combination of confident driving character, safety technology and premium accommodations makes the 2019 Mazda6 an excellent choice.

My eye-catching Signature had an added cargo mat ($75) and branded scuff plates ($125). With destination charges of $920, the total delivered price was $36,520.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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