February 28, 2013
We've wanted to love the Mazda CX-5 since the day we first drove it, but something was slightly off. It's by far the best example yet of Mazda's new design language. It's the right size for a small family or the owner of some large dogs. It ticks all of the practical boxes while still driving like a Mazda should drive. The CX-5 even manages to return fairly good fuel economy.
Unfortunately, this last bit was a double-edged sword; the high mileage was delivered by an anemic, 2.0-liter inline-4 that was never up to the task of moving the midsize crossover. The 2014 Mazda CX-5, however, has righted the ship thanks to a new 2.5-liter engine option that produces 184 horsepower: nearly 30 more than before.
On paper it looks like the missing link that should make the 2014 Mazda CX-5 a class-leading crossover. With that in mind, we added one to our long-term fleet to find out.
What We Got
The 2014 Mazda CX-5 comes in three trim levels and has two engine, driveline and transmission options. As much as we wanted the available six-speed manual gearbox, there are simply too many downsides for this pick to overcome. First, it's only available on the base front-drive "Sport" model, which includes basics like a four-speaker stereo with CD and iPod/USB input, tilt-and-telescoping wheel, 17-inch wheels and the sluggish (9.7 seconds to 60 in our testing) 155-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Mazda figures manual transmission buyers are shopping solely on price, so this version is only $20,695.
Moving up the line to the 2014 CX-5 Touring ($24,615) and Grand Touring (($27,620) not only grants access to all-wheel drive, but also to the new 2.5-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder that does duty in the 2014 Mazda 6 as well. In this application, the 2.5 produces 184 hp and 185 pound-feet of torque while returning 24 city/30 highway and 26 mpg combined on the EPA cycle. The only available transmission for this engine is a six-speed automatic.
While the Touring gets niceties like a rear-view camera, blind-spot monitoring, six-way power driver seat, 40/20/40-split folding rear seat, six-speaker stereo and upgraded cloth, we chose to test the loaded 2014 CX-5 Grand Touring AWD. The Grand Touring gets 19-inch wheels, automatic headlights, Bose stereo, power sliding sunroof, automatic wipers, leather seats, dual-zone climate control and an eight-way power driver seat. Pricing starts at $28,870.
Beyond the standard features, we wanted to spend time with Mazda's new TomTom navigation system and "Smart City Brake Support" (which automatically applies the brakes in a panic situation). This meant we had to add the Grand Touring Tech package for $1,625. The deep Soul Red paint runs $300, while the bumper guard and retractable cargo cover are $100 and $200, respectively.
All told, our 2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD wears a sticker price of $31,890. Mazda provided this vehicle for the purpose of our long-term test.
Why We Got It
Our new CX-5 doesn't enter our long-term fleet unopposed. Instead, it's sidled up to the fiercest competition in the segment today in the form of our long-term 2012 Honda CR-V.
Can the Mazda win us over with its driving dynamics and looks as well as with the new TomTom navigation system and suite of tech features? Will we simply take it home so the neighbors can see this ruby-red SUV glistening in our driveway? Or is this another Mazda that woos in the canyons, but ultimately falls slightly short of the mainstream competition when driven every day?
We've got 20,000 miles to find out. Follow along on our Long-Term Road Test page for updates over the next year.
Current Odometer: 1,727
Best Fuel Economy: 25
Worst Fuel Economy: 18.9
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 22.6
The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor