Time flies. It seems like just yesterday we picked up our long-term Mazda CX-5 with a little over 600 miles on the odometer. But it is now nearly half a year later, our three-month evaluation period turned into four months during which time we drove nearly 8,000 miles behind the wheel of the CX-5.
During this time the vehicle did just about everything a compact crossover could do. It was used to shuttle families, transport home furnishings, carrying band equipment, go golfing and of course, tackle rush hour commutes. Not once did it let us down, even when burdened with the unholy smell that could only come from our camera producer’s hockey equipment.
PRICED RIGHT FOR THE MARKET
As a recap, our long-term CX-5 was the top of the line Grand Touring model outfitted with the technology package and finished in “Soul Red” paint. With an as tested price of $ 31,790 after destination charges, this slots the 184 hp CX-5 right in the heart of the compact crossover segment. In fact, during an eight vehicle comparison test, the CX-5 finished a close second to the Subaru Forester thanks to the Mazda’s combination of features, efficiency, style and value.
Keeping the CX-5 out of first place are a few small issues here and there that we have noticed throughout the four month test period. The most prevalent was the transmission that a few of our staff members found as appealing as a drunken party goer who decides to crack open another bottle after all the other guests have left. Due to the transmission’s insistence on keeping the CX-5 in higher gears to maximize fuel economy, there is a distinct lack of power and low pitch engine drone that was
frustrating at times. Without a sport mode or paddle shifters, the only way to circumvent this programming was to slap the automatic gear shifter over to “manual” mode and select the preferred gear, or hammer down on the gas pedal.
SKYACTIV REALLY WORKS
The fuel saving programing does work though, as our CX-5 remained within the 26 to 31 mpg range throughout the testing period. With 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque coming from a 2.5-liter engine straddled with an all-wheel drive system, those numbers are fairly impressive. During the earlier mentioned crossover comparison test, the CX-5 finished second in observed fuel economy, once again trailing the Forester.
Another minor issue a few staff members had with the CX-5 had to do with the interior. Although well laid out and featuring top quality materials, no one could call it overly stylish. The simple, clean layout did make it easy to use and most appreciated the Tom Tom navigation system. Front and rear seat comfort never drew criticism for comfort but three abreast in the back seat was a little tight.
STILL A BEAUTY QUEEN
Something we didn’t get tired of during our time with the CX-5 was its styling. Even after looking at it day in and day out over the course of four months we still found it to be one of the nicest looking compact crossovers on the market. Mazda really has hit a homerun with the KODO styling language, which is hard to believe after the Nagare smiley face styling debacle.
Suspension set-up proved to be a mixed bag for us. We have gone on and on about how well the CX-5 handles for its class, so no need to hammer out that point again. Of course, with any dynamically inclined suspension set-up, there is a ride comfort trade-off and the CX-5 was no different. However, we did find the more we loaded up the Mazda with gear or people, the smoother the ride became.
But all of these issues were minor and some are downright nit-picky. The CX-5 not only proved to handle daily life with us, it actually excelled. Rarely was it not off being driven by a member of our staff, or out shooting the latest AutoGuide video. It really is a leap forward for Mazda compared to the Tribute and looks to not be a one-off fluke as both the all-new Mazda6 and Mazda3 seem to be class leaders as well. We really miss the CX-5, but being the car guys we are, we are excited to being the process of locating our next long-term test vehicle.