Smart Shifts - 2014 Mazda CX-5 Long-Term Road Test

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

2014 Mazda CX-5: Smart Shifts

September 18, 2013

2014 Mazda CX-5

Our 2014 Mazda CX-5 features a smart six-speed automatic, and it's about as close to a sixth sense as you'll find in a contemporary automatic. Its intuition and response to your next move — a passing maneuver, for example — is uncanny and its rev-matched downshifts characteristic of a car that should be smaller and closer to the ground. Mazda attributes this alchemy to a dual personality.

At low speeds, the transmission slides gears like a conventional torque-converter automatic. Slightly lay into the pedal, however, and the torque converter locks up and delivers what editor Jacquot describes as an honest connection between the engine and front wheels, a feature that deserves praise as CVTs grow ubiquitous in the quest for fuel economy.

More remarkable is that the Skyactiv-Drive six-speed helps return real fuel economy. Currently, we're achieving almost 2 mpg combined better than the EPA rating.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 16,940 miles


  • bggb bggb Posts:

    You've been corrected in multiple comments in previous posts that the EPA for this vehicle is 26MPG combined, not 23, and you're not overachieving anything. Parroting the same mistake over and over again does a disservice to your readers. It also shows no one at Edmunds bothers to read the comments, which is telling in itself.

  • legacygt legacygt Posts:

    When you look at some of the recent new vehicles/powertrains that have been developed in the name of improved fuel economy, Mazda's skyactiv technology seems to be the best at delivering something close to the EPA mpg in real world driving. When you look at others like the Explorer Ecoboost or the Impreza, they seem to rely on smoke and mirrors to perform very efficiently on the EPA test cycle but not so much in the real world.

  • kirkhilles_ kirkhilles_ Posts:

    Maybe its just me, but it seems that reliability of automatic transmissions has gone down hill in recent years. You'd think by now, getting 200k+ would be a given with 300k+ being the norm - instead it seems like manufacturers are cutting costs or whatever and getting $5k repairs is more common than it should be.

  • kirkhilles, The transmissions just keep getting more and more complex to increase mpg ratings so they keep squishing more and more technology and parts into them. Although I haven't seen an uptick in transmission problems mentioned anywhere the complexity certainly does leave more room for issues. But they have gotten better than the 80,000 mile Chrysler transmissions of years back.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    I think it's just you. Automatic transmissions were notorious for being the first items on vehicles to go in the bad old days. Today they seem seriously reliable in comparison. Manufacturers are adding a TON of costs into transmissions.

  • reminder reminder Posts:

    I'm curious to know how stout these transmissions can be. Is it possible to push a ton of HP through these & not have them come apart? Drove snowmobiles for years, so CVT is no stranger, but striking a balance between strength & efficiency might be a tough compromise. Where there's a market there's a way.

  • I'm an outlier in that I don't mind CVT's for everyday driving -- I think from an engineering standpoint, it's the smartest way to manage power to the wheels -- but I also think Mazda is to be commended for developing a slushbox without the slush. With so many auto transmissions receiving bad-to-mediocre reviews, it's really nice to see one that stands out as being genuinely good.

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    the 2 best automatic vehicles i've driven have been a lexus SC (only 4 speeds but it was ALLWAYS in the gear i wanted it to be and for a vehicle made in 1991 that is really something because i have yet to drive another 4 speed or 5 speed auto that i could say that about. and also the fiat 500 when cruising and driving spirited the 6 speed transmission kept the little 1.4 non turbo engine allways on boil. with the exception of on long on ramps where you would have to put it in manual mode to keep it from upshifting. but it would hold gears and bounce off the rev limiter until you requested another gear or switched it back to D. and the gear indicator letting you allways know what gear you are in was a nice touch

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    the main problems with cvts is you dont get that "launching" feeling from a stop and at wide open throttle the engine will buz at one speed and it is usually 1k or more from "redline" i know that many engines do not gain that much more power from reving all the way out to redline (honda) and engines' maximum rpm has been steadilly increasing every lifecycle but you have to be leaving a lot of power for 1thousand revs!

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