2018 Mazda CX-5: Monthly Update for August 2018
by Ronald Montoya, Senior Consumer Advice Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
It was a low-key month for our 2018 Mazda CX-5. It spent most of its time with editor Brent Romans and was only driven about 890 miles. Brent was impressed by the CX-5's manual shift mode, climate control system, and blind-spot monitoring system indicators on the head-up display.
In late August, one of our commenters had posed the following questions: "Can you please tell us how the Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint is holding up? I hear horror stories of significant chipping, especially (but not limited to) the hood and the front bumper. I'd like another data point. And is acceleration really all that horrid?"
I did a brief walkaround and found no evidence of paint chipping. It seems to be holding up so far at just under 7,000 miles of driving. We'll keep an eye on it in the future.
As for the CX-5's performance, it definitely feels slow, but its acceleration time seems to be on par with the Toyota RAV4's, so it isn't that "horrid."
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
We didn't move the needle much in terms of bettering the lifetime fuel economy. Our average across all miles is still 22.1 mpg, which is about 15 percent below the EPA rating of 26 mpg. We're going to need to take some road trips in order to bring up the average.
Average lifetime mpg: 22.1
EPA mpg rating: 26 combined (24 city/30 highway)
Best fill mpg: 28.2
Best range: 329.2 miles
Current odometer: 6,870 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"It's tough shopping for a small crossover in 2018. There are close to a dozen models that I'd be seriously interested in if I were in the market. So where does that leave the CX-5? I've been a little underwhelmed with our long-termer, to be honest. It hasn't been as fun to drive as I expected it to be, and that's supposed to be one of its distinguishing features. Still, the CX-5 has a quality cabin design, lots of useful features and attractive styling. If I had to cut my shopping list to, say, five crossovers, I'm pretty sure it'd make the cut." — Brent Romans, senior editor
"I'm in total agreement with Brent in that the CX-5 doesn't feel that sporty to drive. This is the same engine as in the Mazda 3 I own, only now it has to carry about 500 more pounds of vehicle weight. I can feel the difference. And when you look at the track-tested numbers, it looks like the driver's choice in this class is the Honda CR-V." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor
"I'm impressed with the manual shift mode in our CX-5. Pull the shift lever to the left and you've got access to the transmission's six forward gears. Pushing the lever forward results in a downshift, and pulling back is an upshift — thank goodness! Porsche does it this way, and that's all you need to know. Any other car that switches it around is wrong. (Joking, sort of.) Anyway, the manual downshifts are smooth and shift speed is quick enough. It's the kind of thing that helps support the CX-5's sporty persona." — Brent Romans
"There's a bit of a learning curve to the CX-5's control knob-based infotainment system. Every action is a number of knob twists and button presses away. The system really works best when you set up the 'favorites' section, which is accessible via the star button. Press it and you're taken to a screen where your radio presets are, as well as your favorite phone contacts and any addresses you've saved. This greatly cuts down on the steps needed for each of these actions. But while the interface isn't the most intuitive, the control knob and surrounding buttons are ergonomically placed and make navigating the menus much easier to do." — Ron Montoya
"Here's a little feature that I find useful: blind-spot indicators in our CX-5's head-up display. When the blind-spot monitoring system detects a car in one of your blind spots, it will display a little icon in the head-up display. There's an icon for the left side and the right side of the vehicle. The icon kind of looks like a little Wi-Fi signal strength icon. This is in addition to the system's normal yellow lights on the side mirrors. I really like this feature because I can keep my attention more fully on the road ahead without having to switch my gaze to the side mirrors to see if there's a vehicle lurking behind me." — Brent Romans
"One of the knocks on the CX-5 is its smaller cargo area compared to other small crossover titans such as the Honda CR-V. You get a maximum of 59.6 cubic feet of space compared to the Honda's 75.8. It's a fair complaint. But for the typical stuff such as loading up grocery bags, kids' sports gear or the haul from a Costco spending spree, I think the CX-5's cargo area is perfectly adequate." — Brent Romans
"I'm pleased with the operation of our CX-5's climate system this summer. It's kept me sufficiently cool thanks to effective air conditioning and well-placed vents. System operation is easy, too, as the buttons for the automatic dual-zone system are clearly labeled." — Brent Romans