You’d have to look hard to distinguish the 2016 Mazda6 from last year’s model; modest updates to its grille, headlights and taillights are subtle enough to escape casual observation.
It’s a different story inside, though. Mazda fits the 2016 6 with a new dash and center console, improves materials quality and tightens fit-and-finish.
The new set-up looks better and enables implementation of Mazda’s Heads-up Cockpit, a suite of tools that help minimize the distractions of modern cabin tech. It allows drivers full access to controls and information, without having to lower their eyes from the road ahead.
A 7-inch tablet-sized touchscreen hovers above the dash, where it can be quickly scanned. The driver may touch the screen or access it via a console-mounted knob that’s accompanied by three hard buttons. The buttons (Home/Entertainment/Navigation) allow direct access to top-level menus; the knob is used to drill into them.
I quickly learned by feel the location of the hard buttons, so making menu choices required only quick glances at the screen. Redundant steering-wheel controls supplement both screen and knob, and, if you have the patience to wait for it , the system can be voice-activated.