Through multiple redesigns, the Mazda6 (formerly the 626) has remained true to the principle that you should be able to enjoy driving. The top priority has been superior cornering and balance, followed by reliability, durability and safety. Some competitors have offered a quieter, smoother ride, higher fuel economy, a lower price — or all three. But nothing in its class, short of the much pricier BMW 5 series, compares with the Mazda6 when it comes to road manners.

The Mazda6 never has matched its major competitors — the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry — for overall sales numbers, and U.S. sales of every medium-priced, midsize four-door sedan have declined in recent years. The Mazda6 peaked in 2004 with 72,148 units sold, but sales have declined steadily since 2016. Just 21,524 left the showrooms last year. Chalk it up to the American driver’s enduring preference for crossovers and sport-utility vehicles, combined with Mazda’s relatively small dealer network. The Mazda6 remains our favorite midsize sedan.

For 2018, Mazda added a turbocharger to its 2.5-liter engine that boosted horsepower to 227; the normally aspirated Four is rated at just 187. Horsepower is upgraded to 250 in turbocharged models for 2020.

We test-drove a Soul Red Crystal 2019 Mazda6 with the turbo. It was priced at $36,815. The base Mazda6 Sport starts at $24,100.

Mazda sedans always have been all about balance rather than raw power, but the turbo is a game-changer — making this Mazda6 quicker off the line and faster in straight-ahead acceleration than before. Yet the handling remains razor sharp, as the turbocharger boosts power without disrupting the car’s balance. The 2019 model is just as fun to drive as ever.

In Signature trim, the Mazda6 has superior interior materials and electronics, and a few exterior flourishes, compared with the Sport and Touring lines. Among the advanced features are Nappa leather-trimmed sport seats, ventilated and heated front seats, power front seats, eight-inch color touchscreen, Bose audio system, satellite radio, suede and wood-trim inserts, power moonroof, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay infotainment system, and Bluetooth hands-free audio and phone.

All Mazda6 models come with blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and Advanced Smart City Brake Support with pedestrian detection. These are desirable safety features that often are available only as costly options.

One weak spot for the Mazda6 is fuel economy. While the standard engine delivers 26 mpg city, 35 highway, Mazda6s equipped with the turbocharged engine are rated at 23/31. The Altima, Camry and Sonata all can reach the high 30s and even low 40s in highway driving. The Camry hybrid breaks the 50-mpg barrier.

2019 Mazda6 Signature

Price: $36,815

Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged inline Four, 227 horsepower, 310 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: 6-speed shiftable automatic

Drive: front-wheel

Weight: 3,580 lb.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear

Wheels: 19-in. alloy

Tires: P225/45R19 all-season

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 14.7 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 16.4 gallons

Fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway

Fuel type: Regular unleaded gasoline

A strong suit in the Mazda6, however, is safety. In addition to the impressive list of electronic safety equipment in all Mazda6s, the car is rated a Top Safety Pick Plus by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.