The family sedan marketplace has become a brawl, with Honda's Accord, Nissan's Altima and Ford's Fusion all newly redesigned and looking to unseat Toyota's Camry as the best-selling car in the U.S.
Mazda joined the fray Thursday with the introduction of the 2014 Mazda 6 sedan at Los Angeles Auto Show.
The car will be available with one of two new engines, gas or diesel, both designed for efficiency and foreshadowing company plans for future models.
"Our Los Angeles announcements are only tips of the iceberg," said Jim O'Sullivan, president and chief executive of Mazda North America. "The best is yet to come."
The gas model will go on sale in January. It features a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine making 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. It routes power to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
Mazda says it doesn't yet have fuel economy ratings, but expects to be the best in the segment. That means Mazda 6 will have to beat the 27 mpg city, 38 mpg highway rating of the current non-hybrid leader, the Nissan Altima.
In the second half of 2013, Mazda will offer the 6 with a 2.2-liter turbo-diesel engine. The company has yet to release horsepower and torque figures, but the diesel will be available with the same manual and automatic transmissions as the gas car.
Both models will have an available system Mazda calls i-ELOOP, a regenerative braking system that stores captured energy in a capacitor, rather than a battery, and electric motor. Mazda says this allows the system to be smaller and lighter, further enhancing the car's efficiency. The energy this feature captures will be used to power electrical functions such as air conditioning and the stereo.
Other options available on the 6 will include an in-dash TomTom navigation system, alloy wheels, LED lights, and a Bose stereo system.
Mazda also used the L.A. Auto Show to show off a more powerful engine option on the 2014 CX-5 crossover SUV. It's essentially the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder unit that will be in the new 6 sedan, and it makes 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque.
It will be available only with an automatic transmission on Touring and Grand Touring models. Fuel economy will be rated at 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway for front-wheel drive models and 24/30 for AWD models.
By adding this more powerful option to the CX-5 lineup, Mazda addresses one of the few complaints we had when we tested the crossover in April. That model had the smaller 2.0-liter engine, making 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. Its handling was easily the most engaging of the segment, but engine sacrificed power in the name of efficiency.
The 2014 CX-5 will go on sale in January. Pricing has not yet been announced.