Our recent test of the 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring showed us that Mazda can still offer sporting dynamics in its all-new family sedan, even while providing more room, more features and more power. We were concerned that the sporting spirit of the last-generation, fun-but-snug Mazda 6 might have been lost in the search for commercial success, but we came away believing this new car still has that zoom-zoom thing.
Like Mazda, we believe a family sedan can be lively as well as practical. So to gauge the way in which the 2009 Mazda 6 fits into the new world of family sedans, we figured a comparison is in order. A 2009 Mazda 6 s Grand Touring would be our starting point.
Then we enlisted the 2008 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE with its continuously variable automatic transmission. It's the car that most people consider to be the sportiest in this category, matched with a transmission that shatters all expectations about CVTs. (We know this car is