Image: Mazda USA

Back in January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration listed crash test ratings for the 2018 Mazda 6 in two distinctive flavors: the front-wheel model and the… all-wheel-drive variant? Wait a minute, Mazda isn’t making an AWD drive version of the sedan. Right?

While there’s been plenty of confirmation for the Mazda’s new 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, we hadn’t heard anything about all-wheel drive. When questioned, the automaker said it couldn’t say anything about it one way or the other. However, Mazda North America CEO Masahiro Moro has admitted there could be a layout issue that would make pairing the new engine with all-wheel drive exceedingly difficult. 

It may have become too troublesome to even pursue the effort, as all mentions of the AWD Mazda 6 appear to have vanished from the NHTSA’s website. Moro said he still wants all-wheel action to play a part in Mazda’s future.

“I think we are not able to combine four-wheel drive and the 2.5-liter turbo. We have a layout issue with the sedans, that’s why a four-wheel drive isn’t deployed on the Mazda 3 and 6 so far,” Moro told CarAdvice. “Four-wheel drive becomes a premium queue for US consumers and obviously I have asked our RD department to think about how we can accommodate four-wheel drive capability in the future.”

Tapping down the remaining nails in the all-wheel drive sedan’s coffin is CarBuzz, which noticed the 2018 model is now certified for sale in California. While the 6 can be had with either a naturally aspirated or turbocharged engine, the California Air Resource Board doesn’t include a secondary line for drive type. Likewise, the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy listings didn’t differentiate between FWD and AWD for the 2018 model year.

Since it’s unlikely that Mazda dropped the front-drive configuration to pursue an unproven AWD version of the sedan exclusively, it looks like that new turbo engine will remain the cornerstone of this year’s mechanical updates. Taking into account what Moro said, we wouldn’t expect to see an AWD version until after the current generation of the Mazda6 is retired.

Sorry, folks. There’s always Subaru.

[Image: Mazda]