Hot Seat - 2014 Mazda CX-5 Long-Term Road Test

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

2014 Mazda CX-5: Hot Seat

September 9, 2013

2014 Mazda CX-5

I recently drove our 2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring for a few days that bookended my recent trip to Germany. As I pulled into the garage on the final day I noticed the passenger side seat heater was on full blast. But it hadn't been me. I hadn't had a passenger ride shotgun at any point in the last few days.

How long had the seat heater been on like that? It had to date back to the previous driver, at least.

I'm not one that uses seat heaters much, and I dislike the ones that do not reset to OFF when the car is shut off and restarted at a later time. Our 2014 Mazda CX-5 could operate like that. Its seat heater button is a momentary switch. It does not latch on in any mechanical sense. It could work the way I prefer if it were programmed to operate that way.

My wife, who is an ardent seat heater fan and frequent user, actually agrees with me on this point. (Imagine that.) She hates climbing in to an already-hot seat in the full light of day. And leastways the CX-5's own owner's manual warns against the continued use of the seat heater in the hottest setting.

All I know is the Clif bar I had on the passenger seat was all melty. The water bottle I had there was too warm to drink. Our CX-5 was running current through its seat heater array for no good reason for hours on end.

Yes, I know that Minnesotans and Canadians disagree. I know you want them to stay on for six straight months. You're probably screaming at me via your keyboards telling me to shut up already so I don't ruin it for you.

But we could all be happy. Cars have all sorts of customization capabilities nowadays. It is technically possible to offer a setting in the menus that would allow us to set the seat heater default mode either way. After all, it takes some sort of seat heater ECU for one button to offer three heat levels, for the system to remember the previous setting when the key is switched off. This car is most of the way there.

Or the seat heaters could be tired into the seatbelt receptacle. No seatbelt, no occupant, no heat.

Yes, there's a light I could have seen, but there are many useless lights competing for attention in cars these days (I'm talking to you, Passenger Airbag Off) that I tend to ignore. And in any case these are low down and don't look very bright when the cabin is flooded with sunlight. I pulled into a dark garage to make them stand out for the above photograph.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16,465 miles


  • Or would it be too much to ask to have a timeout range on it. That way if I'm running errands in the winter it is on each time I restart the car within an hour of turning the car off but if I drive to work with it on and it has warmed up by lunch time I don't need it to turn back on with the car.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    "Yes, there's a light I could have seen". Correctamundo. The way to think about this is that lots of people out there want it to reset, and lots want it to stay on. So instead of talking about measures that add cost and complexity (at the expense of all owners, just for your personal benefit), just do the easiest thing and press the button to turn it off. If we keep telling auto manufacturers that we can't tell a button is on, or that we need everything done for us, why are we surprised when manual transmissions and traction control buttons are on the decline? If we keep telling them that we can't even understand one button, why are we surprised that they don't make cars easy to work on for DYIers any more? C'mon guys...

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    My wife is an ardent seat-heater user and I regularly use the feature, too, but both of us are fine with it defaulting to OFF when the car is started. It's just like the radio. You turn it on if you want it.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    VWs turn off when the ignition is shut off, but they can be programmed to stay on. I imagine most cars can, but turning off at shut-down should be the default. And yes, if you had the car for a few days, you should have noticed it was on right away - anytime you take over a fleet car from other people who have been using it, you should be scanning the IP for stuff like this.

  • metalmania metalmania Posts:

    My car has a rocker switch, but it's mounted on the vertical part of the center console that forms the armrest/storage compartment so it's mostly out of sight (you have to look somewhat backwards to actually see it, or at best 90 degrees to the right and down). There's been a couple of times I've had a passenger in the car and I forgot to check their switch afterwards, and the seat heater was left on. I'd prefer a momentary switch that defaulted to off when the car was shut down. At least the CX-5 has the switches and lights in the center panel so you have a better chance of seeing them if left on (even if the placement and lighting isn't the greatest).

  • rmhpmi rmhpmi Posts:

    Quite a rant sir, bravo. This vehicle would have already replaced my wife's 2011 KIA Sportage if it offered ventilated front seats. But the horror they might not turn off automatically is not something I am sure I could live with.

  • crunchy71 crunchy71 Posts:

    I also have a 2014 CX-5 GT, and the seat heaters reset every time I restart the car. I do notice, however, that it's VERY easy to bump and activate the seat heater buttons when you're using the little storage bin right below them, or moving other objects around in the cabin. I'd suggest the heaters probably hadn't been on for days, that they do reset when you start the car, you probably just bumped the (very exposed) button in normal usage, and that if there's a design flaw, it relates to how easy the button is to unintentionally push, rather than in how it resets.

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