Can Mazda6 keep up with Camry, Accord?

The 2018 Mazda6 will face off against the freshly redesigned Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

LOS ANGELES — Mazda picked a tough time to try to make some headway against some bigger Japanese rivals in the struggling midsize sedan segment.

When the redesigned 2018 Mazda6 goes on sale next spring, it will face off against two heavyweights freshly redesigned for the 2018 model year: Toyota’s Camry and Honda’s Accord. Another big foe, Nissan’s Altima, is due for an update soon.

Citing strong demand for a pair of high-end trim lines on the CX-9 crossover, Mazda is adding a top-level Signature trim to the Mazda6.

The new package adds nappa leather trim, suede and wood accents, and the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s currently standard on the CX-9. In the Mazda6, the engine will make 250 hp (on 93 octane fuel) and 310 pound-feet of torque, and features cylinder deactivation. It will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The turbo engine will also be available on other higher-grade trim levels. But at the car’s debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week, Mazda did not specify which models those would be. The base model’s naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder also receives cylinder deactivation.

The chassis on all models of the 6 has been revised for sharper handling and to minimize noise, vibration and harshness. The exterior gets a new grille and new 17-inch and 19-inch wheel designs.

Mazda has also revised the Mazda6’s interior, with only the steering wheel and trim pieces carrying over from the previous version. The seats have been redesigned (with ventilated units now available up front), and new options have been added, including a 360-degree camera, 7-inch digital instrument panel and radar-cruise control.

U.S. sales of midsize sedans were down 15 percent through October. The Mazda6 has struggled more, slipping 23 percent to 29,975 units — one-tenth of the Camry’s segment-leading tally.

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