2014 Mazda CX-5: The Sedan Version
September 27, 2013
Our long-term 2014 Mazda CX-5 is, of course, a hatchback-compact-ute-crossover thing. That much is obvious, and it's among my favorites of the type.
But what about those looking for something in a sedan form factor? I recently had the opportunity to spend extended seat time in a 2014 Mazda 6 on the east coast, a car which at its core is underpinned by the same chassis as the CX-5. It's a CX-5 in a sedan wrapper.
At least, that was my expectation.
The 6 I drove was a Grand Touring variant, basically the full-zoot version. First off, I love the looks. To my eye there isn't a better looking sedan in its category. The arch of the front fenders, the aggressive nose, the elegant detailing...it looks purposeful, never fussy. Mazda's decision to shelf the Nagare design language in favor of Kodo was wise. Nagare was mind-blowing on the Furai concept but never really translated well onto traditional cars.
Enough about that. The Mazda 6's steering and handling score high marks in my book. This is probably not shocking given the CX-5's acuity, yet the 6 turns it up another click by being a couple hundred pounds lighter. It's possible that the sedan's lower center of gravity helps a bit, too, but that's a guess. In any case, the 6 exhibits surprisingly sharp path accuracy for this type of car. Solid grip, too. It, indeed, drives like a Mazda.
The 6 is a pretty noisy car. Road and engine noise are the primary culprits. Makes me wonder if Mazda pared down the sound deadening a bit too far in the pursuit of light weight.
Power delivery of the 2.5-liter four is completely acceptable. This is not a hot rod, of course, but when you plant your foot the 6 spirits away with enough enthusiasm and clicks off gear changes with little slack. Just like the CX-5, in fact. No surprise there. Bonus: the 6 has a 'sport' transmission calibration that our long-term CX-5 lacks. It is activated via a little button just ahead of the console shifter, switching to a calibration that holds gears longer and delivers downshifts a bit more eagerly.
Its TomTom navigation system is just okay. I came to terms with some of its idiosyncrasies but what's less forgivable is that on two occasions it routed me to the wrong destination with lots of indecision along the way. Boston is a tricky city in which to drive, sure, but the runaround this nav system gave me was doubly frustrating as it was running out the clock on a flight departure. Yipes! Plus, the screen's small.
Fuel economy was stellar. My tally after 900 miles of thoroughly-mixed use in city and freeway conditions was 33.8 mpg. That's pretty amazing considering how large the 6 is. And that I was behind the wheel at the time.
For the tl;dr crew, the Mazda 6 is good. Better than good. Outstanding. It would be five-stars excellent if it had more effective noise isolation and a better navigation system. Aside from that, I'm a fan.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor