The 2021 Honda Accord Reigns Supreme Over the 2021 Mazda6 Turbo

The classic economy sedans have left the old days far, far behind. Cheap cars used to be brutally simple and bare bones. Everything was manual; windows, door locks, transmission, these cars even made you tune the radio by hand. It was madness! These days, the cheaper cars, well, aren’t cheap. They are as nice or nicer than much higher-end stuff from 20-years ago. The 2021 Mazda 6 Turbo and the 2021 Honda Accord are two such evolved iteration of older middle-class favorites, but what are they now? 

The 2021 Honda Accord and 2021 Mazda 6 Turbo are close 

MotorTrend recently tested both of these long-time favorites of the brand and was curious about how things have changed over the years regarding the overall package of each model. These middle-tier Japanese staples once ruled the sedan world, but as the sedan segment gets further threatened by the crossover and SUV segments, the competition from other sedans is ramping up. Are these two still contenders? 

A grey 2021 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T driving down a city street
The 2021 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T in action | Honda

The two specific models as tested were the 2021 Honda Accord EX-L equipped with the base 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 192 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. The Mazda 6 they tested was the Turbo Carbon Edition with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 227 hp and 310 lb-ft. Obviously, there is a bit of an imbalance here, but these aren’t race cars, and power is not the most important metric. Although, both cars have equivalent specs to the other as far as power is concerned. 

The Honda is simply nicer to be in

These two cars are fairly well-matched overall. They are both nice without being fancy and generally priced similarly. However, there is the simple fact that MotorTrend points out, the Mazda 6 is just is a bit older. 

This generation has been on lots since 2013 and has had a series of minor updates and retouches, but it remains largely the same. MT notes that it is aging well as far as aesthetics go, but the technology is largely a bit dusty. They go on to say that although it still looks good, the newer, cheaper Mazda3 has a nicer interior than its big brother. However, Mazda did add wireless Apple CarPlay and connected Andriod Auto. There are still only two USB ports in the car, and they are located in the awkward position under the center armrest. 

The black cockpit, including the steering wheel, of a 2018 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T sedan
2018 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T | American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

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The Accord, on the other hand, is a bit newer and has an air of freshness, even though this version debuted in 2017. Not only is the tech a few years newer, but it also offers more shoulder and legroom as it is a bit wider than the Mazda 6. Not to mention, the Accord got a mid-cycle refresh adding many new tech doodads. While things are a bit nicer on the tech end in the Honda, the design isn’t nearly as fun and inspired as the Mazda 6. 

Is the 2021 Mazda 6 Turbo faster than the 2021 Accord? 

The Mazda 6 has the bigger, turbocharged engine as standard in most trim levels, making the Mazda seem sportier from the top. It boasts a full second faster 0-60-mph speed than the Accord, which is expected in the two tested models. However, if they are on a level playing field, the Honda shows the Mazda who’s boss.

The 2021 Mazda6 set up in front of a gray background for a photoshoot
The 2021 Mazda6 Carbon Edition on display | Mazda

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The base model Mazda 6 without the turbocharger is 0.7 seconds slower than the non-turbocharged Honda. If you give the Honda the bigger turbo motor and let the Mazda keep its turbo, the Honda still beats the Mazda by a few fractions of a second. 

While both cars handle nearly the same, regardless of power specs, the Honda still takes the cake on emergency braking distance by 13 feet. The overall effect remains that even though the Honda is technically the same or better in all performance metrics, the Mazda still feels a bit sportier, according to MotorTrend. 

Which is the better choice? 

The fact is, these two cars are close in many ways, even the price. The Honda starts at $32,285, whereas the Mazda is a little higher at $33,745. The models as tested are $32,285 and $34,245, respectively. 

The MT testing proves that a lot is going for both sedans, but at the end of the day, the 2021 Honda Accord seems to be the more logical choice than the 2021 Mazda 6 Turbo.