Federal safety regulator has removed the 2018 Mazda6 with all-wheel drive from crash-test ratings.
Mazda is on a quest to be a premium automaker. The independent Japanese brand recently introduced us to the luxury-laden CX-9, unveiled a new Signature trim line, and announced it will offer a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine in the 2018 Mazda6 to finally give the midsize sedan the power it so desperately deserves. So when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted crash ratings on its website for a Mazda6 with all-wheel drive, the rumor-mill switchboard lit up.
That was probably all for naught. NHTSA has removed the all-wheel-drive mention for the Mazda6 from its website. After Motor Trend initially reported on the crash rating’s appearance on the NHTSA website, it was summarily removed. The future doesn’t look bright for all-wheel drive to make its way to the 6 anytime soon. While Mazda’s North America CEO Masahiro Moro has stated he's keen on making all-wheel drive a more prominent feature in the automaker’s lineup, there’s no other evidence to support the addition. If anything, Moro has been vocal about the Mazda6’s current platform precluding it from being fitted with all-wheel drive.
The treasure trove known as the California Air Resource Board executive-orders list doesn't support the all-wheel-drive speculation, either. The refreshed model with both of its 2.5-liter engines—naturally aspirated and turbocharged—has been certified for sale in the state. Those executive orders don't include the two lines required, one for front-wheel drive and another for all-wheel drive, for Mazda to be authorized to sell both drivelines in California. And the Environmental Protection Agency’s FuelEconomy.gov website? In its entry for the 2018 Mazda6, a fuel economy rating is listed for the new turbo engine when paired to a six-speed automatic—but only with front-wheel drive.
If what Moro has said is true regarding the Mazda6’s platform—that there’s no way for it to accept the extra all-wheel-drive hardware—the soonest Mazda’s midsize sedan could drive all four wheels is sometime after 2020. That’s when the car will receive a ground-up reengineering, possibly using a front engine, rear-wheel-drive platform borrowed from Toyota. But don’t hold your breath on that coming to fruition as it's just a rumor at this point and automakers, like people, are known to change their minds from time to time. Maybe we won't care about all-wheel drive by 2021. Or maybe, if crossovers truly take over, there won't be a Mazda6 to care about at all.