2015 Mazda CX-5 Consumer Review

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

It’s no secret that the Mazda CX-5 is a favorite among the AutoGuide.com staff.

Last year we embarked on a long-term test of Mazda’s first entrant into the growing small CUV segment and for the most part we came away impressed. Furthermore, the CX-5 finished a close second place in an eight vehicle compact crossover shootout last summer.

But that was then and this is now. Over a year later, how does the CX-5 stack up in everyday life? Some have said that the praise heaped on the CX-5 has as much to do with its sporty drive characteristics that appeal to our auto-obsessed staff, as it does its practicality. What would someone who isn’t particularly concerned with sporty driving dynamics think of the crossover?

This sounds like a job for Amanda. Quickly becoming a semi-regular feature on AutoGuide, our general consumer reviews put my wife Amanda into a mainstream car to garner her impressions as someone who appreciates automobiles from a purely practical standpoint. On one of her previous reviews, an AutoGuide commentator requested her impressions on the Mazda CX-5 so here we are.

The Specs

Unlike most compact CUVs, the CX-5 is available with a choice of two different four-cylinder engines. Sport models come equipped with a 155 HP 2.0-liter four cylinder engine, while Touring and Grand Touring versions get the more powerful 184 HP 2.5-liter unit. Both engines are available with either front- or all-wheel drive. Base, front-wheel drive CX-5s can be had with a six-speed manual transmission while all other versions come exclusively with a six-speed automatic.

At a weight of 3,560 lbs., the CX-5 is lighter than a Ford Escape and right on par with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Amanda’s all-wheel drive, automatic CX-5 with the larger engine is officially rated at 24 MPG city and 30 MPG highway. During a snowy week behind the wheel, she averaged 22.6 MPG thanks to endless commutes in thick traffic caused by foul weather.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Mazda CX-5 vs 2013 Toyota RAV4

Rear seat room in the CX-5 is generous offering up 39.3 inches of rear legroom. Behind the seats resides 34.1 cubic feet of cargo space; again, class competitive. Pricing for the Mazda CX-5 begins at $22,375 after destination charges for base Sport models. Amanda’s Grand Touring AWD with the technology package came in at $31,475.

How does it Drive?

Amanda found power delivery to be good in both city and highway driving. The CX-5 drove very smooth and she found it easy to maneuver. Parking in tight spaces wasn’t an issue thanks to a good turning radius and easy to see back-up camera.

The Grand Touring CX-5 comes equipped with larger 19-inch wheels wrapped in winter tires. Although winter tires do hurt fuel economy to a degree, the tradeoff for sure footed traction during an unexpected, sizable snow storm was worth it. Never getting upset or sliding around, Amanda appreciated the capability of Mazda’s all-wheel drive system, but didn’t quite feel the same confidence in it as she did with Subaru’s system in similar conditions last year.

The View from Inside

The seat and mirrors were easy to adjust for Amanda and she found initial comfort and sightlines to be quite good. Although the CX-5 is still relatively new, the interior design looks plain and outdated to her. Same goes for the GPS. The display to her looks like an old video game.

From a usability perspective, all of the CX-5’s controls were easy to find and simple to operate. There’s enough space in the backseat to accommodate all but the tallest passengers and seat comfort for rear passengers is good for this class as well.

What She Liked

Amanda still really likes the looks of the CX5, just not in the Blue Reflex Mica paint like her test vehicle. The overall proportions and clean lines work for her as she finds it to the right size for her needs.

The GPS system drew praise for how easy it is to use. She especially likes that it remembers the last cities it visited, which saves time the next time she had to use by not needing to retype the whole word again. It also recalculates quickly when off route. Her only issue with it, aside from the graphics, is the fact it lost signal quite a few times during the week.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Mazda CX-5 Review

The CX-5 is also glove friendly which was a big plus for Amanda during the cold week she had the CUV for evaluation. The steering wheel buttons and infotainment unit are both easy to operate without bare hands.

What She Didn’t Like

Like the Mazda3 she drove last year, the front seats are her biggest issue with the CX-5. She found the backrest of the seat bothered her the longer she drove the vehicle. Over the week she found it increasingly uncomfortable and would complain of neck and back pains when arriving home from work. The seat doesn’t fit her petite frame right and no amount of fidgeting with the adjustments would get it in an acceptable position.

She also wasn’t a fan of the gauge cluster’s menu setup. Although it may seem like a small detail, the digital speedometer and clock both can’t be shown in the gauge cluster at the same time. Her final small gripe has to do with the push-button keyless entry on the CX-5s door handle. There is a significant delay from pushing the button to the doors actually unlocking.

The Verdict

Overall, Amanda is still impressed with the CX5 as it’s attractive, easy to drive and easy to operate. But, there’s one issue that would be a deal breaker for her: the driver seat. Her advice for anyone thinking of buying a CX-5 is to go spend some time behind the wheel of the vehicle and see if seat comfort is an issue. If it’s not, then she recommends the CX-5 as a solid purchase in the growing compact crossover segment.

FAST FACTS

  • Engine: 2.5 L four-cylinder engine, 184 HP, 185 lb-ft.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Fuel economy (US): 24 MPG city, 30 MPG highway, 22.6 MPG observed
  • Fuel economy (CDN): 9.9 L/100 km city, 7.9 L/100 km highway, 10.4 L/100 km observed
  • Price (US): Starts at $22,375 after destination charges for base Sport. Grand Touring AWD with the technology package came in at $31,475 as tested.
  • Price (CDN): Starts at $24,890 after destination charges for base GX. GT AWD with the technology package came in at $37,185 as tested.

Discuss this story on our Mazda CX-5 forum.

Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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