Mazda CX-5 Long Term Update 3: Testing the Toys

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Mazda CX-5 Long Term Update 3: Testing the Toys
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Welcome back to another update on our Mazda CX-5 Long term tester. How is it holding up? What features have we explored and is the transmission still driving Colum nuts? Read on to find out.

Hopping back into the CX-5 for the first time in a few weeks the first thing I noticed, other than how filthy it’s become, is the brakes.

They feel squishy now, but that’s not something you should worry about. I can guarantee you won’t be as hard on your CX-5 as we are on ours. As the chase car for our video shoots it’s probably seen more track miles than most Porsche GT3s. And other than pedal feel, it’s holding up like a champ.

TESTING THE TOYS

Of the car’s many features I still have yet to test the auto-brake feature, though I suppose that’s a good thing.

The blind spot warning is now less of an annoyance as I’m already adapting to it, waiting longer to switch back into my lane. Old habits die hard, however, and every now and then it’ll surprise me by going off.

No system is perfect and I did once have the blind spot monitor alert me when rounding a corner. I can only presume the car came too close to a pole on the median of an intersection, fooling the sensor into thinking it was a car.

BACK-UP CAMERA A MUST HAVE… FOR SOME

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The back-up camera is something I’m starting to get used to as well. Generally I prefer parking sensors that beep at you, but in our office’s tight parking garage it’s become useful. And when backing out of my in-law’s driveway (CX-5 fully loaded with cargo) with my brother in-law’s Honda Civic parked across the street, I’m sure he appreciates not having a bright red scrape across his black car.

The back-up camera has, however, become somewhat of a household issue. You see, I can’t put the car in reverse without my wife exclaiming how amazing it is. If I don’t buy her a new car with a reverse camera soon, I fear I’ll be forced to install a aftermarket unit in her current car.

CLICK HERE: to Build and Prce Your 2014 Mazda CX-5

FAST FACTS 1.     Power comes from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. 2.     Our all-wheel drive test vehicle is officially rated at 24 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. 3.     A six-speed automatic is the only transmission available with the upgraded 2.5-liter engine. 4.     Our fully-loaded long-term test vehicle comes in at $31,590 after destination charges.

ADAPTIVE HEADLIGHTS

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Putting in some miles at night the HIDs are impressive. They cut a clear line in the darkness and it’s amazing to watch the adaptive feature working, with the bulbs side-to-side rotating to show what’s coming around the corner, then straightening out ahead.

Called the Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS), it’s part of the $1,625 Grand Touring Technology Package that also includes navigation, keyless access with a push button ignition, an auto-dimming rear mirror and the still-unused Smart City Brake Support.

As with any new car it doesn’t take long before things don’t wow you like they once did. I’m still pleased with the cabin, but after driving the new Toyota RAV4 for a week (in pricey Limited trim I might add), the CX-5’s cabin just doesn’t stack up.

Thanks to Mazda’s progressive design language the car’s body is still as handsome in my eyes as ever. A different sort of brand, Mazda shows it with some less-traditional color choices. While I’m a big fan of the Sky Blue Mica, it’s almost a cliché. The red adds a touch of class.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT TRANSMISSION?

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During my daily commute, which does significantly favor highway driving, I’m tracking about 26 mpg.

The transmission continues to be a sore spot, and I’ve actually cursed out loud while driving up sloping grades. The 2.5-liter engine (with no shortage of power), vibrates like subwoofer with the aim of maintaining that MPG number.

Apart from that, no squeaks or rattles have arisen and the ride impresses, even on imperfect roads. On a terrible stretch during my drive home it’s done an excellent job of absorbing even the most violent of potholes.

THE VERDICT

With roughly 7,500 miles now logged in the CX-5 long term test car it’s time for its first service appointment. We’ll swap out the black oil for some new engine honey (and check the brake pads) before handing the car on to another member of the AutoGuide team for further updates.

Have a comment, or better yet, a question? Ask us anything you want to know about the CX-5 on YouTube, in our AutoGuide comments section or even tweet at us @AutoGuide.

GALLERY: Mazda CX-5 Long Term Test Car

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  • snootypants

    can you be more specific about the shortcomings of the cabin? also, how does the cx-5 stack up to the CR-V for small storage options? I hear the CR-V makes great use of space.

  • ColumWood

    Compared to the RAV4 in its top Limited trim (a fair comparison as this is the to CX-5 trim) the Toyota has stitched leather on the dash (even if it is fake). The display screen looks much more modern, as does the design. And when it comes to the buttons, they are different colors and textures than the rest of the dash, whereas on the Mazda it’s all monotone. A lot of the RAV4’s components are just the usual stuff, but the radio, nav and climate control buttons look far more premium.

  • EdThompson

    No reason to be frustrated over transmission, if you know how it behaves. If you want it to down shift one gear, stab throttle 1/4. If you want it to down shift two gears, stab throttle 1/2. The key is quick movement of throttle. If you normally press 1/2 throttle it won’t downshift and it shouldn’t because in normal mode its designed to save gas.