2014 Mazda6 Manual Transmission Proves Its Value


The Cars.com staff has spent quite a bit of time with the redesigned Mazda6 sedan since our first review back in February.

Since then the team has primarily driven models with the automatic transmission, which is the set-up a vast majority of buyers will choose. But with Mazda's sporty heritage, the manual transmission option may be something shoppers of this particular sedan consider more than those from other brands.

"If you want a manual, I'd say go with the Mazda6," editor and original Mazda6 reviewer Mike Hanley bluntly advised. "It's very good with a precision that's rare among midsize sedans that offer stick shifts."

"The automatic left me wanting more pep despite loving every other aspect of the car," Managing Editor David Thomas added. "The easy-shifting manual gave just the extra amount of excitement this car should have."

There aren't many other models that do offer a stick, with more than half the segment forgoing the option. The Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Subaru Legacy and VW Passat round out the list that do allow shoppers to shift for themselves.

And shoppers who want a stick shift will have a hard time finding one on dealer lots.


Out of nearly 16,000 new Ford Fusions that list either an automatic or manual transmission in Cars.com's national inventory, only 77 were manuals. Or just less than a half percent.

Subaru Legacy sedans aren't as popular but the percentage of manuals available was significantly higher at 2.3% with 111 manuals versus roughly 4,800 total in our inventory.

The Passat's manual mix was 1.97% out of nearly 17,000 total.

Honda's Accord manual mix was better still with approximately 900 out of nearly 33,000 new models equipped with a manual transmission or 2.7%.

There are far fewer Mazda6s available because the brand sells fewer cars in general, and the 2014s that are on sale are selling briskly. The 2014 Mazda6 takes an average 29 days to sell, far outpacing the average time to sell any new car at 62 days. The 211 manual Mazda6s in Cars.com's inventory versus 3,200 total comes to 6.59%, a significantly higher percentage than the others.

That tells us that Mazda actually wants its shoppers to have the manual option.

"The manual is definitely well-done and provides a sportier experience," adds editor Jennifer Geiger. "But it's at the expense of fuel economy." At least on paper.

Like most modern automatic and continuously variable transmissions, the Mazda6's automatic gets higher EPA ratings than the manual. If you haven't shopped for a new car in a few years this may come as a surprise as manuals used to provide the thriftier numbers. The Mazda6 manual at 25/37/29 mpg city/highway/combined falls 1 mpg short in all three categories versus the automatic. A thriftier i-Eloop package is now an option for automatic models, making that divide 3 mpg in all categories.

However, editor Joe Bruzek rang in some surprisingly excellent mileage figures during his time with the car. "Loaded with three passengers, the mileage indicator consistently hovered above 40 mpg while cruising at 40-50 mph," he reported.

Bruzek and Thomas both "enjoy" cruel daily commutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Thomas noted mileage hovering right at the 30 mpg mark during his commute. Typically test cars achieve their posted city mpg ratings on these commutes, not their combined number.

Bruzek's results were even better. "At the end of my hour-and-a-half commute, I averaged 33 mpg, which is huge on my commute and better than many small cars."

And while the mileage was a surprising bonus not every editor was sold on the performance benefits of the manual.

"It has potential — medium throws, good gate placement, a hefty shifter and an easy clutch to pick up — but the throttle lag really cuts the fun," countered editor Kelsey Mays. "Give the gas a quick pulse to rev-match on a downshift, and nothing happens. You have to stand on it for half a second before it kicks up revs from idle, or learn to rev-match early [and accept late downshifts] all the time."

But like most of the staff, Mays still agreed that there was some added value to the manual in an otherwise very notable new model.

"The ride and handling balance still shine and it drives like a smaller car, which family cars increasingly need to do because they've all grown so darn big," he said. "And yes, the stick shift beats the mediocre six-speed auto."

2014 Mazda6 Review
What's the Most Affordable Midsize Sedan?
Research More Sedans

By David Thomas | August 14, 2013 | Comments (12)


I've driven this car and I couldn't agree more with what you said. The new body style is appealing and it's just a fun car to drive.

Regi Gist

I've driven the Honda Accord Sport 6MT, Ford Fusion SE 1.6t 6MT (yes its a unicorn but I've driven one-twice!) and the Mazda6 i Touring.

Of the three, I'd rank the Mazda6 last as far as shifter precision and fun factor. The Fusion was the most fun of the three to drive followed by the Honda Accord. The new 6's shifter felt rubbery and vague to me and Mazda (and Honda's lack) of optional equipment with the stick shift had me leaning more toward the Fusion. Mazda should offer the i GT with a stick because the Touring is too underequipped to satisfy my taste at least Ford will let you add options to the Fusion with the stick shift.


Too bad the Accord's stick shift will land you with limited options of color and trim levels.
Gone were the good old days of a fully loaded stick shift family sedan...

Laura M-J

Subaru still makes manual transmissions and says that there are high demands for them.


Is there something subjective and personal about shifter feel? I find it amazing that Regi in the comments disagrees so fully with the editors--not that I disagree.

There's a stick shift 09 Camry next door to me, and I find it the most amazing thing to behold.

For my part, my Scion xB benefits greatly from a stick shift with the short-throw kit from TRD. No, it's not precise in the sports-car sense, but it is relatively quick and satisfying. Over time the shift effort seems to have loosened as the shifter wears in.

Kelsey's issue with throttle lag is important. My Scion isn't a full half-second late, but there is a lag that slows down the rev match.

It's best to jab both the break and the gas at the same time while clutching in.


I bought a manual Subaru Outback this year, and I pretty consistently get the combined rating when doing city driving, get the highway for combined, and exceed the highway for highway driving. I'm really not trying to do anything special in my driving, so there would seem to be some bias in the EPA test procedure. Or perhaps people will actually do better with the automatics as well?


Mike, I agree. I have a 2008 Mazda6i (4-cyl 5MT) rated for 21, 24, 29. I average about 27 in combined driving, and get up to 30-31 in highway. But I think it has a lot to do with the way I drive. If you want a loaded Mazda6 with a stick shift... just go to Canada. Canadians like stick shifts enough to get more options.

mike the texan

I just test drove the base model manual because my dealer didn't have the mid level. Not very impressed with this car. I guess coming from an Acura tsx manual, this mazda gear box and clutch doesn't impress me. Noisy, and no power in the 5th and 6th that are too tall for fuel economy reason. No zoom zoom really unless you down shift to 4th or even 3rd, when in my tsx with shorter ratio and more responsive engine there is nearly no need to downshift at highway speeds. And my old Acura is 10 yrs old and 165k miles...


I ordered a 2013 Fusion SE with the 1.6T and six-speed manual, and I love driving the car. Over 25,000 miles I'm averaging 33.4 MPG, and that's a mix of mostly highway, some stop and go traffic and some city. In my teens I drove fast V8s, but over the years transitioned down the horsepower ladder. But with the manual, I don't miss the horsepower at all.


I think mine must have something wrong with it, because my 2014 manual mazda 6 has a clutch that doesn't seem to engage at a consistent position, a shifter that doesn't want to go into gear, and a bundle of other problems.


C.D. Woods

Changes to my
2014 M.T.Mazda 6:
K&N Filter, Magnaflow Muffler,GForce Performance Chip ECU add on.
HP 225, Torque 200+
MPG: 30/42/35
Plus more spirited passing.

C.D. Woods

Did additional gas mileage check recently over 205 level miles, cruise control at 63 mph.
Result: 48.8 mpg on my 2014 M.T. Mazda 6

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App