Best Four-Cylinder In Its Class - 2014 Mazda CX-5 Long-Term Road Test

2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD Long-Term Road Test

2014 Mazda CX-5: Best Four-Cylinder In Its Class

August 19, 2013

2014 Mazda CX-5

Drive a 2014 Mazda CX-5 like ours and you'll probably think that its 2.5-liter engine is nice and gets the job done. That's true, at least in the grand scheme of things. But if you really think about it, this mill (and its six-speed automatic) deserves more praise than that. I'd argue that this is the best engine in its class.

I say this based on two qualities: acceleration and fuel economy. In terms of acceleration, the AWD CX-5's 8.3-second 0-60 mph sprint makes it the quickest small, non-luxury crossover we've tested with a normally aspirated engine (as of this writing, of course). The CR-V, Equinox, Forester, RAV4, Rogue and Sorento? All slower. It's only until you look at turbocharged engines in the Escape or Tiguan that you'll find quicker times.

Meanwhile, the CX-5's 26 mpg combined fuel economy average (with AWD) is also at the top of its class.

Factor in the quick responses of the six-speed auto and you've got a powertrain that is worth singing praises about.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 15,573 miles


  • banhugh banhugh Posts:

    How do you compare the engine based on vehicle acceleration? If the CX-5 platform weight was higher and the acceleration was in the 10 seconds area with the same engine, would it make worse of an engine? I though I was going to read about torque and horsepower curves...

  • jederino jederino Posts:

    I love how Mazda tunes the transmission to be responsive, and still attains good fuel economy. Does the engine have more character the its competitors?

  • _wraith_ _wraith_ Posts:

    The Forester does slightly edge out the 2.5L CX-5's EPA figures, at 27 combined. Right below the 2.0L CX-5 at 28. And there are several other models that aren't considered in the standard compact crossover class, like XV Crosstrek (28), Juke (27), Outback, Outlander, Outlander Sport, Encore, X1 (26).

  • cgramer cgramer Posts:

    I love the very same combination of responsiveness, acceleration, and fuel economy on my 2014 Mazda 6. :-)

  • reminder reminder Posts:

    Zoom Zoom Baby!

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    My father-in-law was a Honda mechanic and still loves the brand. We were talking small CUVs and I mentioned the CR-V. He asked why anyone would consider that when there is the CX-5. That's high praise for the Mazda. I needed no convincing.

  • metalmania metalmania Posts:

    I've not yet driven a CX-5, but the impression I get from reading several articles and road tests is that it's really the package of the engine and transmission together that make it "better". Most reviewers speak highly of this transmission, though I've found a couple that don't. How often do you hear auto journalists praise an automatic that isn't in a Porsche, Audi, or Ferrari? Based on the numbers, there's nothing really outstanding about the output of the Mazda engine over its competitors (I'm only referring to the naturally aspirated engines in the class). Well, maybe there is - I think the Mazda hits its torque peak in the low 3,000 rpm range vs somewhere over 4,000 for most others. I think that's a pretty good "every day" sweet spot. It's apparently smooth running too, so I suppose it feels refined. The Forester is, at least on paper, a bit more efficient but it has a CVT. For the average buyer, they probably don't care and maybe wouldn't even notice. CR-V in real world mileage might actually beat the CX-5 (see Edmunds long term test for evidence of that - but they aren't done with the CX-5 yet), but uses a boring old 5 speed auto. Again, Mr./Mrs. Average buyer probably doesn't care and in the real world probably doesn't make much difference. But for those of us that do, I really like what Mazda does (I drive a first gen 6). I don't live in a car commercial, I'm a working family guy in the real world, with real speed limits and traffic. My ideal, OK maybe not ideal but my realistic car has to be kind of an appliance - but that shouldn't mean it's not fun to drive. Thank you, Mazda, for being there and offering something a little more engaging but still sensible. Honorable mention to Ford for the new Fusion, Escape, and Focus.

  • thetruck454 thetruck454 Posts:

    We bought my wife a 14" CX-5 Grand Touring in march. The rare times that I get to drive it, it still amazes me how much fun it is to drive. The engine and transmission are almost telepathic and the chassis/suspension just begs to be chucked into a corner. If you care at all about the driving experience and are looking for a small CUV you would be doing your self a disservice to not test drive it.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    @ _wraith_ Quoting myths from the EPA does not count as facts I'm afraid. ;-)

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    Why is the Forester even in this conversation? A CVT with a flat 4? A similar engine in the long term Impreza was the ultimate downfall of that car, I don't expect to see any different in the Forester. Fuel efficient or not (and that's dubious in real world conditions) there's no way the powertrain can be considered anything more than adequate. The 2.5L Mazda CX-5 is the best 4-banger available. Until the Cherokee comes along with the V6 option, it's probably the best engine period in this class.

  • _wraith_ _wraith_ Posts:

    @agentorange: The article was referencing EPA's combined MPG figure. It's really the only common point of comparison we have. While you can look at actual reported mileage on something like fuelly, to see if drivers can actually make EPA reported figures,

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