2019 Mazda 6 vs. 2019 Lexus IS Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Mazda 6 has standard Whiplash Reducing Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Reducing Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The IS Series doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Mazda 6 Signature has a standard 360-degree View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The IS Series only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the Mazda 6 and the IS Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems and rearview cameras.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Mazda 6 is safer than the Lexus IS Series:


Mazda 6

IS Series


5 Stars

4 Stars




5 Stars

4 Stars




Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

266 lbs.

339 lbs.

Neck Compression

24 lbs.

47 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

43/70 lbs.

271/602 lbs.




4 Stars

4 Stars




Chest Compression

.4 inches

.6 inches

Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

133 lbs.

197 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

335/150 lbs.

426/505 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Mazda 6 is safer than the Lexus IS Series:


Mazda 6

IS Series


Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

437 lbs.

474 lbs.


Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

380 lbs.

691 lbs.


Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

15 inches




Spine Acceleration

36 G’s

39 G’s

Hip Force

671 lbs.

806 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Mazda 6 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 62 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The IS Series has not been fully tested, yet.


There are over 2 times as many Mazda dealers as there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the 6’s warranty.


A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Mazda 6’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the IS Series’ camshafts. If the IS Series’ belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Mazda 6’s reliability 18 points higher than the IS Series.


The Mazda 6 Grand Touring/Signature’s 2.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 30 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 280) than the IS 350’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Mazda6 gets better fuel mileage than the IS Series:








2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy



2.5 turbo 4 cyl.

23 city/31 hwy

IS Series



300 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/30 hwy



350 3.5 DOHC V6

20 city/28 hwy



300 3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy



350 3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Mazda 6 (except Turbo)’s fuel efficiency. The IS Series doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Mazda 6 uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended on Mazda 6 Grand Touring/Signature for maximum performance). The IS Series requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

The Mazda 6 stops shorter than the IS Series:


Mazda 6

IS Series


80 to 0 MPH

221 feet

226 feet

Road and Track

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

177 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

121 feet

128 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Mazda 6 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature has standard 19-inch wheels. The IS Series’ largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Mazda 6’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the IS Series (111.4 inches vs. 110.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Mazda 6 is 2.2 inches wider in the front and 1.2 inches wider in the rear than the track on the IS Series.

The Mazda 6 Touring handles at .87 G’s, while the IS Series AWD pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.


The Mazda 6 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 350 pounds less than the Lexus IS Series.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Mazda 6 a Mid-size car, while the IS Series is rated a Compact.

The Mazda 6 has 9.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the IS Series (99.7 vs. 90.2).

The Mazda 6 has .2 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more rear headroom, 6.5 inches more rear legroom and 1.7 inches more rear shoulder room than the IS Series.

Cargo Capacity

The Mazda 6 has a much larger trunk than the IS Series (14.7 vs. 10.8 cubic feet).


The Mazda 6 Grand Touring Reserve and Signature have a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The IS Series doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

Consumer Reports rated the Mazda 6’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the IS Series’ headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Mazda 6 has standard extendable sun visors. The IS Series doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Both the Mazda 6 and the IS Series offer available heated front seats. The Mazda 6 Grand Touring Reserve/Signature also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the IS Series.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Mazda 6 owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Mazda 6 with a number “1” insurance rate while the IS Series is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Mazda 6 is less expensive to operate than the IS Series because typical repairs cost much less on the Mazda 6 than the IS Series, including $321 less for a water pump, $88 less for a muffler, $719 less for a starter, $95 less for fuel injection, $112 less for front struts, $773 less for a timing belt/chain and $797 less for a power steering pump.


Consumer Reports® recommends the Mazda 6, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Lexus IS Series isn't recommended.

The Mazda 6 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 2 of the last 6 years. The IS Series has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The Mazda 6 outsold the Lexus IS Series by 35% during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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