Ending a Slow Death — Mazda Just Pulled the Plug on the Mazda6

The Mazda6 has been a contender among midsize sedans since its introduction in 2002. But things are about to change. Despite the 2021 Mazda6’s IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award, the automaker has pulled the plug on its family car.

That leaves only the Mazda3 compact car to compete in the sedan market. And though the Mazda6’s demise isn’t good news for the U.S. midsize sedan market, the discontinuation isn’t a big surprise given the trend toward SUVs.

2021 will be the last model year for the Mazda6

“The current third-generation 6 has been around since 2014 and will not be available for 2022,” Car and Driver reported in late May. Mazda’s announcement motivated speculation in the automotive world as to what’s behind discontinuing a great midsize sedan.

The current-generation Mazda6 hit its sales peak in 2015, selling 57,898 units, GoodCarBadCar shows. After that, annual sales dived nearly 10,000 units in 2016 and 2017. They saw another sharp decline in 2019, bringing annual sales to just over 21,000. The drop to just 16,204 in sales in 2020 represents an overall decrease of over 40,000 units per year in less than five years.

Other major automakers have ditched their midsize sedans

Mazda isn’t the only automaker to abandon the midsize sedan. Car and Driver notes that Ford, GM, Chrysler, and a few others are also turning their attention away from sedans to focus on SUVs and trucks, which continue to capture a major portion of the automobile market.

Fiat Chrysler began the exodus in 2016 by eliminating most of its sedans. Ford and GM followed suit in 2018, significantly trimming their lineups of sedans. Ford is expected to kill every car in its lineup except the iconic Mustang. That’ll coincide with a significant increase in the Blue Oval’s lineup of crossovers and SUVs by 2023.

The mass exodus from the midsize sedan class leaves heavy-hitters like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord a guaranteed spot at the top of the list. However, given their domination in the class for the past three decades, they were likely to continue winning the top spots anyway. But one might begin to wonder if a lack of competition will cause these leaders to cut corners or become less innovative with their designs and features.

Will the Mazda6 return under a new name?

Some observers believe killing the Mazda6 was an act of mercy for a slowly dying sedan. But others have already begun speculating about the sedan’s eventual return. For example, some believe the model might reappear on a rear-wheel-drive platform to use the automaker’s newly engineered inline-six engine.

However, would any future Mazda midsize sedan use the “6” nameplate, or would it reappear under a different moniker? Only time can provide the answer.

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