LOS ANGELES – Masahiro Moro, president and CEO of Mazda’s North American Operations, unwraps the re-engineered ’18 Mazda6 during the auto show here and restates his brand’s commitment to promoting and enhancing decidedly human, as opposed to automated, driving experiences.

The auto industry has reached a crossroads, where companies are battling over how the future will look, he says. “Is it a future where the steering wheel becomes an option? A place where the car is reduced to a transportation appliance?”

At Mazda, he says, “We’ll always believe that there is a future where the ways your car looks and feels will continue to matter. There will always be a special bond drivers have with their cars.” He adds that vision is exemplified in the Mazda6, the automaker’s flagship passenger car, and has been strengthened through the model’s latest improvements, the third such update since a full redesign in 2012.

The Mazda6 powertrain has been augmented with technologies, including a cylinder-deactivation system for Mazda’s turbocharged Skyactiv-G 2.5L gasoline 4-cyl., designed for optimum fuel efficiency.

Debuted in the Mazda CX-9 CUV, the direct-injected engine produces torque on par with 4.0L V-8s, the automaker says. It’s been added to the automaker’s product lineup in North America and some other markets.

Moro says the Mazda6 design team sought to raise the quality feel of both the car’s interior and exterior, with a new, high-grade interior that features Japanese Sen Wood, which is often used in traditional Japanese instruments and furniture, and other exclusive trim elements that provide a premium feel.

The updated Mazda6 includes a wider range of advanced i-ActivSense safety technologies to help a driver identify potential dangers and decrease the risks of damage or injury. Mazda Radar Cruise Control is capable of bring the car to a stop and then begin moving forward again when the car in front moves away, while the model also sports Mazda’s latest 360° View Monitor.

Sharing the press conference stage with the Mazda6 is the Vision Coupe design concept unveiled at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. Moro notes the Vision Coupe serves as a high mark to strive toward, an ideal design currently not workable on the production level, but likely will be as auto technology continues to advance.

The Mazda6, Vision Coupe and all other models under the brand are designed in accordance with Mazda’s seven-year-old philosophy, KODO, or, Soul of Motion.