Although the new 6 is about 6 in. longer and 2.3 in. wider than its predecessor, the handsome 4-door doesn’t look any bigger. The new size translates to a 10-percent-larger trunk and 6-percent-larger passenger compartment, making it the new class leader in these areas.
The basic 4-cylinder-equipped model is a lot of car for the money at $19,100. Its 2.5-liter engine performs admirably, making 170 horsepower and 167 lb.-ft. of torque, shifts smoothly (we only sampled cars equipped with the optional 5-speed automatic transmission and not the 6-speed manual), and gets a very respectable 22 mpg city/30 highway (the manual gets 21/29, respectively). The 3.7-liter V-6 makes a full 272 bhp and earns mileage figures of 17/25 in its automatic transmission-only configuration; it starts at $24,400, which includes a much broader standard equipment package. Both the 4- and 6-cylinder engines run on lower-cost regular unleaded gasoline, a welcome bit of engineering in these cost-conscious times.
On the safety front, traction control, stability control, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, tire-pressure monitoring and six airbags all come standard.
Numerous upscale options are available, including a DVD-based navigation system ($2000) and packaged together a power sunroof and a sensational sounding 333-watt, 10-speaker-plus-subwoofer sound system by Bose for $1800.