Will the Golden Retriever Fit? - 2014 Mazda CX-5 Long-Term Road Test

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

2014 Mazda CX-5: Will the Golden Retriever Fit?

November 29, 2013

2014 Mazda CX-5

My friend Catie is searching for a compact SUV to replace her long-serving Mazda 3 and narrowed her search to the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5. Those would be the ones I'd consider, but as she hadn't done any dealer shopping yet, I decided to bring our long-term 2014 CX-5 over to have her sit in it and poke about.

Besides her desire to have something more distinctive than a Honda CR-V (not the only friend who's declared the class best-seller a less-than-cool no-go), she'll need her new car to be big enough for her golden retriever Paisley and a future child assumed to be in existence sometime within the life of the vehicle. We couldn't do anything about the latter, but I told her to grab Paisley and chuck her in the boot.

Paisley technically fit, but the CX-5's sloped glass and tiny rear quarter windows do not create what I'd consider a dog-friendly environment. Perhaps she'd be fine in a pinch, but as a long-term solution, the Mazda CX-5 doesn't look like it'll work.

I suggested that after initially checking out all the possibilities at dealers to see if she and her husband liked them (or even better, visit the L.A. Auto Show), bring Paisley back to literally size up the finalists. Yes, they'll let you do that.

Which compact crossover do you think would be the best for a big dog?

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 20,506 miles


  • roiscuba roiscuba Posts:

    Leaning towards a Subaru Forester for my Great Dane. He's currently taking up the space behind the seats in my 2000 S10 ext cab and he's none too happy about it. We're specifically bringing the Dane with us while car shopping to make sure he fits and it's easy to get in/out of.

  • jeepsrt jeepsrt Posts:

    I had a Toyota FJ that was perfect for my large dog and his crate, sold it to upgrade to a 2011 Grand Cherokee and with the sloping hatch it was almost unusable. By the time I traded it for my current Raptor I had to put my dog down due to old age. I do miss the FJ though as it was such a versatile SUV, and I really miss my best friend, he was a great dog.

  • hybris hybris Posts:

    Ford Excursion with either the V10 gas motor or the 7.3L Diesel or if you have the money a rebuilt, bulletproofed 6.0L.

  • I would not get the Ford Escape. The 1.6 Ecoboost (the most popular engine) is having serious problems with fuel leaks and fires. I would also suggest a Hyundai Santa Fe. It has good styling and the 2.4 DI engine and 6 speed transmission have been a reliable workhorse for Hyundai for several years now with no known problems.

  • sharpend sharpend Posts:

    Forester or CX-5. She should look at those two and get the one she likes more. Can't go wrong with either one really.

  • evodad evodad Posts:

    Having been in a similar situation, we picked up a crv when we had two greyhounds and a kid on the way. The dogs fit in the back with nothing else back there (although somewhat snugly), but with an infant you'll find the need for all sorts of crap. We found we ended up leaving the dogs a lot more and doing less overnights once our daughter was born. Now that she is 2.5 (and requires much less) and we are down to one dog, the crv would be fine. Your friend really needs to determine how much the dog is going to be with her once a kid is born. Even with a sloped roof, when a big dog is laying down there should be plenty of room in most compact cuv's, I wouldn't immediately dismiss the cx-5, I bet she finds the same issue with many other vehicles in the class.

  • juwu juwu Posts:

    get a minivan instead! with a possible child in the future and a dog, hard to beat minivan utility. base model sienna is 25k, base model caravan with stow and go and end of year rebates is 20k

  • csubowtie csubowtie Posts:

    With the rear facing carseat requirements, especially around here (WA state) requiring kids to be rear faced until they are at least 2 years old, we are finding that many vehicles that would appear to be good family haulers are too small. The carseat has rendered our Imprezas front passenger seat unusable, and a friends Ford Explorer (2000 ish) only works with the car seat centermounted so it can fit between the front seats. I question how well any of these CUVs handle the toddler sized rear facing car seats.

  • evodad evodad Posts:

    @csubowtie, it's a valid point but only a temporary issue. Also, being centermounted is safest anyways (although often makes at least one outboard seat nearly useless). The front passenger seat in my evo was never unusable, but certainly wouldn't have be

  • juwu juwu Posts:

    my minivan post above is what i'm eventually doing when our 3 month old gets older (or we have more kids) and if either our 96 volvo 850 or 94 civic hatchback dies (probably engine swap the civic tho hehehe). we test drove a cx5 when my wife was pregnant but it was still too small for us since we are planning on camping, rock climbing, surfing, etc with kids. i have the child seat center mounted in the volvo (for side impacts) but had to put the seat behind the front passenger in the civic because it ran into the driver seat. a short person can somewhat fit in the front passenger but not comfortable or safe.

  • hossbo hossbo Posts:

    I have done exhaustive research on this - I have an 80 lb lab retriever mix and a 100# plott and dane mix. I have owned multiple sports cars, but the last several years my car selection process has been more about the length, height and configuration of the cargo area. For a dog that size, you need a flat, complete load floor and a rear window that doesn't slope severely. I drove and measured a ton of wagons and small to mid size suvs, and both the Subaru Forester and Outback are the best "car-like" options, unless you go with a large SUV. I liked the stiffer susp/steering Subaru made for the '13 outback - that and the longer rear cargo area decided for me. I came very close on a beautiful Audi Q5, but it was going to be mighty cramped, and you need to look out for things like gaps in the load floor (the Q5 rear seats slid forward, but the 4" gap is bridged by carpeting and that is a dog-leg trap, in my opinion. I liked the CX5, but it seems pretty tight because of the rear sloping window. Another option is, could she live with the rear seat folded down? That opens up lots of options. I sometimes theorize I could downsize from my '13 outback to a vw gti. But I sure like having the Bigs in the back, keeps the back seat area clean. Plus, they like it back there, just the right size, good window configuration.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    WA REQUIRES the car seat to face backwards? So much for the land of the free.

  • csubowtie csubowtie Posts:

    @agentorange: That's what I've been told repeatedly since our son was born 19 months ago. Your comment led me to look up the actual law. From what I can find, the current law is children under 8 or 4' 9" must be restrained in an appropriate child r

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