“Love at first sight is a feeling commonly shared toward a special someone, but in my case, it is toward the Mazda CX-5. But instead of love at first sight — it was more like love at first feel.”
We all have specific needs for our vehicles, some of us prefer a sports car, some a pickup truck, some even a modified cargo van to fit a bunch of kids. Then there is Missi and I, a simple family with no-so simple car needs-and-wants, and after all — why should we? After all, it’s those same needs that allow us to share our insight with you.
Where am I going with this? You see, cars are designed and built from the ground up to attract and fit a specific clientele, and while most manufacturers cater to mainstream needs, Mazda continues to design and build cars for fun people, cool people, and more importantly — people that want to enjoy driving from point A to point B. And in the case of the CX-5, you can even haul more people and more gear, that’s why the Mazda MX-5 rocks!
The Driving Experience
I’ll start with this, the CX-5 is NOT for everyone, and in fact, some will consider the ride a bit stiff, the steering a bit heavy, and that will turn them off and send them directly into a Ford dealer seeking solace behind the wheel of a Ford Escape. Though I’m sure Mazda is aware and even OK with this.
On the road the CX-5 feels light and agile, and it quickly responds to brake and throttle inputs when necessary, but the magic truly lays in what Mazda does best — the steering and transmission. These two components bond to produce one incredible driving experience, and in typical Mazda fashion the steering is extremely communicative and more than happy to let you know what is going on at all times, while the transmission keeps things lively and makes sure you always have the right amount of power and torque. This six-speed doesn’t waste any time fumbling for the appropriate gear under heavy acceleration, it just gets it. So if you’re known for dropping off the kids at school as the late bell rings, the CX-5 might help you get there a couple of minutes early…
Our CX-5 was equipped with Mazda’s all-wheel drive system which is perfect for Indiana’s inclement weather, and surprisingly enough the system enhanced the CX-5’s handling capabilities on dry roads and didn’t rob any fuel efficiency. At the end of our test the more than capable 184-hp, 2.5-liter engine delivered a 28mpg combined average!
Both the exterior and interior of the CX-5 have a premium look and feel, yet they are simple and minimalistic. The overall body design is smooth and not sharp and angular like the dramatic Mazda 3, which makes the CX-5 easier to digest and understand as a whole, though the sharp-edged look seems to increase as the design wraps around the tailgate and tail lights. Speaking of lights, both headlights and tail lights have a neat design pattern that shows just how much attention to detail was paid to the CX-5.
While the exterior look will earn you the award of hot mom or dad at school — the interior is even better. I’ve always said that almost any manufacturer can design attractive sheet-metal, but it’s a great interior that will truly set a company apart, and Mazda has got it down to a science. Our CX-5 had gorgeous parchment perforated leather seats which weren’t only pretty to look at, but also extremely comfortable and made the “soul red” exterior paint pop even more. Though you will cringe when the little ones spill juice and goldfish all over it…
The CX-5 seems to genuinely strike a balanced look that helps it stand out without being too over the top like others in the segment, which means you can have a hot looking family ride without looking desperate to cling on to your “pre-kids” sports car. (That’s what the MX-5 is for)
Technology and Safety
Mazda has considerably stepped up their game when it comes to active safety, and such results could be witnessed on our CX-5 which featured the GT i-Activesene package with the following high-tech features:
- Mazda Radar Cruise Control
- Smart Brake Support
- Lane Departure Warning
- High Beam Control
Surprisingly enough, at $1,505 this package is actually a bargain and even affordable compared to similar safety packages offered by others. I highly recommend checking this box when building your CX-5 for the mere fact that radar cruise control and lane departure warning are “must-haves”, and smart brake support is quickly becoming a big savior in today’s traffic infested roads. A 5-star side and 4-star rollover crash test rating wrap up the CX-5’s exemplary safety record.
Though we covered this in depth in our Mazda 3 hatchback review, the CX-5 features a similar 7-inch color touchscreen display which is best used with the ergonomically positioned control knob below the shifter. It is this layout that makes the CX-5 an even bigger pleasure to drive, as all controls are within reach and customizable shortcut buttons declutter the center console and enhance the user experience. Talk about knocking to birds with one stone…
In The End…
The CX-5 makes life behind the wheel enjoyable again, and while I can’t promise that your morning rush hour commute will feel any better, it will make SUV ownership less stale. Hauling kids, hauling stuff, looking good and feeling good is what the Mazda CX-5 is all about.
Often I hear people say — a car is more than something to transport you from point A to point B, and sadly, that’s not true – that’s exactly what a car is. But I truly believe that a car is more than an object, it’s a work of art and it should inspire one to feel happiness and joy.
Because after all, who wants to drive a boring car?
- Unique and attractive design.
- Plenty of legroom for rear passengers.
- Sporty, go-kart like handling.
- Exceptional fuel-efficiency.
The Not So Great:
- No rear AC vents.
- Believe it or not, that is it!
- Starts at: $21,795
- Price as tested: $34,140