Getting there, as they say, is half the fun.

On a recent family excursion to the Algonquin Park area for a few days vacation, I booked a 2009 Mazda6 GT V6 because it was a double standout last year.

It won its category (Best New Family Car, $22,000-$30,000) at the annual Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Car of the Year awards. Then it almost took the overall COTY title losing by one, single point to the Hyundai Genesis.

The 2009 model is easily the best-looking Mazda6 yet.

From the front fenders back, you can see how the lines in some of Mazda’s recent concepts were moulded into the overall structure. An example is a very subtle and elegant “S” curve that flows from the high point of the roof down and back to the tip of the rear deck.

But the most pronounced feature of the external styling is the way the front fenders flare out like wings, and along with the five-point grille, gives the car the look of a broad arrow. Starting with the RX-8 sportscar then the CX-7 CUV and more recently the 2010 Mazda3, this is now the signature styling cue for the entire model lineup.

The 2009 Mazda6 is larger than the previous version in every dimension. Wheelbase is lengthened by 115 mm; overall length is greater by 195 mm, while overall width is increased by 60 mm.

Both front and rear occupants benefit from more headroom, shoulder room, and legroom. Cargo capacity has grown by 39 litres to 469 litres. That 10 per cent increase in cargo volume results in a very high trunk deck.

There is a drawback. In creating all that trunk room the high deck lid makes reversing problematic. Ergo, you will have to be very careful when backing up not to hit objects like posts. There is no parking assist audible warning available.

The steering wheel has a nice feel to it and the instruments, with amber and violet display hues, are easy on the eyes.

Tested here is the GT V6, and my wife, son and I each drove the car and found the power driver’s seat could be adjusted for three very different body shapes. The best past is, with three memory settings, all of us could be happy.

One of Mazda’s prime objectives was to include “Zoom, Zoom” in the ride and handling. In other words, the 2009 Mazda6 had to have the “soul of a sports car.”

What stuck out was the small turning circle, making steering and parking much easier than a lot of other front-drivers.

We all commented on the big brakes that are very solid in actuation that leads to a feel of confidence behind the wheel.

My tester was equipped with the blind spot system that lit up an icon in either mirror each time a car came into the blind spot zone.

It also lets out an audible beep if you move into another lane and a car is in the blind spot.

2009 Mazda6 GT V6
Type: Mid-size sedan
Price: GS I4, $22,695; GS V6, $27,695; GT I4, $27,695; GT V6, $33,495. GT V6 as tested, $35,460
Engine: 2.5-litre, DOHC inline four-cylinder (170 hp, 167 lf/ft) 3.7-litre DOHC V6 (272 hp, 269 lb/ft)


• New model larger than previous incarnation
• Blind spot warning system