Mazda MAZDA6 2009

2009 Mazda MAZDA6
The all-new 2009 Mazda Mazda6 is designed expressly for the North American market. It seems that this market didn't appreciate the trim dimensions of the previous 6, so Mazda made it larger in every dimension inside and out. And while the previous-generation Mazda6 featured three different body styles, the five-door and wagon body styles have been discontinued. What remains is a sporty sedan with fine driving manners, plenty of room, and a surfeit of features.

The Mazda6 wears its new size well. The sedan is attractive from just about any angle, but the front end is especially handsome because of the sculpted front fenders and broad wheel arches. The look is powerful, while showing a family resemblance to the high-performance Mazda RX-8 and MazdaSpeed3. Unlike the recent styling missteps by Toyota and Honda on their mid-size cars, Mazda got the Mazda6 right. The shape is also aerodynamically smooth, a characteristic that helps improve highway fuel economy.

Styling inside follows the sporty theme set by the exterior. Lines flow well, and the hooded instruments play up the car's more aggressive driving personality. The three-spoke steering wheel and other major controls are well placed and easy to use. White-on-black instrumentation is standard on the Mazda6 Sport, while red-on-black gauge faces are used on Touring and Grand Touring editions. The main gripe with the interior concerns these uplevel electroluminescent gauges. They look great at night, but on bright days, their reduced contrast makes them almost illegible.

With the performance from the 2009 Mazda Mazda6's more powerful and efficient engines, a driver needs to be able to see those instruments in order to monitor his or her velocities. There are two engines available across the line that includes three trim levels: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower is the most economical and achieves 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway with a six-speed manual and 21/30 mpg with the optional five-speed automatic.

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Jaguar XF 2009

2009 Jaguar XF

The 2009 Jaguar XF ranks 9 out of 12 Luxury Large Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 23 published reviews and test drives of the Jaguar XF, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

The 2009 Jaguar XF is a luxury sport sedan that boasts attractive exterior styling and a feature list that matches the traditional favorites in this class. It deserves a close look from anyone looking for a luxury midsize sedan, perhaps something distinctive in a crowd of Lexuses and Mercedes. The lack of an all-wheel-drive option hurts the XF, however, and some reviewers complain of limited visibility.

The 2009 Jaguar XF is a formidable new entry into a highly competitive segment of the market. Replacing the less-than-successful S-Type, the XF initiates a new design direction for Jaguar -- and the press is torn on what to make of it. Motor Trend advises, "Make no styling judgments until you've seen the XF in person." But they like it, continuing, "Distinctive as it may look in photos, in the metal the XF radiates a modernity and sexiness that simply don't translate to the printed page." Inside, everyone seems to agree that it's luxurious and well-styled. Automobile Magazine raves, "The XF's interior really scores - there's plenty of room to seat four large adults in comfort. The cabin overflows with neat details...and the quality of materials" is "as good as anything in the class." With a pair of V8s and no smaller engine options, Jaguar is gunning to make a performance statement with its new car as well. Oddly, the XF lacks even an option all-wheel-drive system, something many buyers in this segment take for granted.

The XF is rated for 16 MPG in the city and 25 on the highway, placing it near the middle-of-the-pack among large luxury sedans. With gas prices rising to record levels, automakers are expected to improve the fuel economy of all of their cars over the next several years, so those numbers may look less attractive each year over the life of the car. It requires premium fuel.

The future of Jaguar is somewhat uncertain, and shoppers should make a note of it. In April, Ford sold the company to India's Tata Motors. The move should have little impact on the short-term quality of cars like this -- the XF was designed, built and on the way to dealers before the sale went through -- but no one can tell you what kind of support to expect from Jaguar over the next few years as ownership changes.

All new for 2008, the XF is available in three trims -- the Luxury model, the Premium Luxury and the Supercharged. The Luxury and Premium Luxury are powered by a 4.2-liter V8 that makes 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, while the Supercharged model's 4.2-liter V8 engine makes 420 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. All three models feature a six-speed automatic transmission. If the XF interests you, you might consider the 2008 BMW 5-Series and the Lexus GS 450 Hybrid.

* "Jaguar's got its nerve back. After too many years of hiding within the stylistic umbras and penumbras of what it had shaped a half-century ago -- think XJ and S-type -- Sir William's boys are once again daring to let their imaginations blaze. This 2009 XF, in showrooms about the time you read this, is an athletic five-seater that defies ancient traditions." -- Car and Driver

* "The historic British car company is combining sleek exterior design, innovative driver interfaces and strong performance with a luxurious interior. Yes, it's a whole new type of cat. And we like it." -- Popular Mechanics

* "The XF has the performance and panache to stand out in the premium midsize segment...and a car with a heart is going to be tough to beat." -- Motor Trend

* "Too many manufacturers think their higher-performance sedans have to imitate track cars, down to rock hard seats, tooth-chipping suspensions, a Cray wedged into the dashboard, carbon fiber and a bad-ass nasty demeanor. The XF Supercharged is another kind of car entirely. It's a first-tier luxury sedan that just happens to have afterburners in the trunk." -- The Truth About Cars

* "All in all a great car which deserves to succeed." -- The Auto Channel

* "For people who shop for distinction and driving pleasure in this price class, the XF is worth serious consideration." -- Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

* "The XF is a very fine motorcar in a market segment that demands utter perfection." -- Los Angeles Times

XF Performance - 8.6 (Very Good)
The 2008 Jaguar XF comes with a choice of two V8 engines, signalling Jaguar's intent to make this a high-performance machine. Reviewers, however, tend to advise buyers looking for performance to step up to the supercharged model. "The thing the XF Supercharged does best is to turn small holes in traffic into big holes with its thick band of thrust," says the Los Angeles Times. But where the XF really shines is in handling. "The XF's variable-ratio power steering is magnificent, rich with feedback, arcing through its orbit smoothly, and transmitting a linear build-up of forces in corners," raves Motor Trend.

XF Exterior - 7.5 (Good)
The 2008 XF enters a class full of beautiful cars, but automotive writers are split on how well it competes. The Los Angeles Times thinks the XF is just "a reasonably attractive sedan from a company that needs a ravishing, wallet-emptying beauty." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, on the other hand, says "it would be hard to find anyone who thinks the new XF is ugly. It has stunning, taut lines that look more like a coupe than a sedan." Several reviewers say it looks too similar to the Lexus GS. In other words, the XF has been received much like Jaguars always have -- some people love the look, others don't understand the appeal. A photo gallery and exterior review are coming soon.

XF Interior - 8.2 (Very Good)
The passenger cabin of the 2008 Jaguar XF combines the traditional comfort of a high-end luxury sedan with a futuristic, high-tech ambiance. Motor Trend says "Prepare to make the jump to hyperspace: You're at the glowing helm of your own Millennium Falcon." Popular Mechanics explains, "Close the door, and the red Start/Stop button pulses with the lub-dub rhythm of a heartbeat. Touch the brake, push 'Start,' and a cast zinc and spun stainless steel shift dial rises from the console into the palm of your hand" instead of a shift lever. The glovebox opens when you tap a target on its surface. Despite the focus on high-tech toys, most reviewers find the cabin plush and comfortable. A photo gallery and interior review are coming soon.

XF Safety - NA
Neither the insurance industry nor the federal government has crash tested the 2009 Jaguar XF yet. Side head curtain air bags and anti-whiplash head restraints are standard, as is stability control and anti-lock disc brakes. The Supercharged model includes a blind spot monitor, and some reviews say you'll need it. Several testers found rear visibility limited. A full safety review is coming soon.

XF Reliability - 4.0 (Mediocre)
The 2009 Jaguar XF reliability score shown is the Predicted Reliability rating provided by J.D. Power and Associates. This score is based on trending the past three years of historical initial quality and dependability data from J.D. Power's automotive studies, specifically the Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and the Initial Quality Study (IQS). Jaguar covers its cars with a four-year/50,000 mile limited warranty, including free scheduled maintenance for the first year or 12,500 miles.
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