I am a huge fan of Mazda. From the Mazda2 all the way up to the CX-9, I think they make fun, attractive and interesting vehicles. With a rare exception, I’ve gotten out of every single one of their cars thinking: I could totally buy this.
The all-new CX-5 is not that exception. I could totally buy this newest Mazda.
The compact size makes it a functional city car, and the new Skyactiv technology makes the high (and getting higher) city gas prices easier to swallow.
It didn’t hurt that the test vehicle was a Grand Touring model ($27,435) with all the whistles and bells. We’re talking about standard features such as blind spot monitoring, heated leather seats, Bluetooth, rearview backup camera, HD radio, remote keyless entry, push-button start and moon roof. The test vehicle was an AWD model, and it added the Tech Package and cargo cover bringing the as-tested price up to $30,905. I was actually quite amazed that you could get all you wanted (and more!) for less than $31K.
Plus, the fact that this was an AWD SUV that has an EPA estimated highway fuel economy of 31 mpg, well, that’s just pretty phenomenal. During the test period, I was pleased to get an average of 27.2 mpg in combined driving. For those of you familiar with my driving habits, you realize what a win this is. In fact this was better mileage than I got the previous week … in a front-wheel drive sedan.
The CX-5, which replaces the CX-7 in the Mazda lineup, comes equipped with just one engine option: the 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder Skyactiv. I’ve also had the opportunity to test this engine in the Mazda3 as well, and I had the same impression both times: It’s got Zoom, but not ZoomZoom. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The 15 percent lower fuel consumption is certainly a point in the Skyactiv favor. And with 155 horsepower, it’s not slow. There was always the right amount of power when I needed it. It just doesn’t have that extra pep you might have seen in other Mazdas.
While I don’t quite understand the need to replace CX-7 completely with an all-new vehicle, I do get the differences between the two. CX-7 was more expensive, bigger and way less fuel efficient. It also had 2 engine options, more cargo and passenger volume and more power. I do love the CX-7, but the CX-5 is certainly more right-sized for the current economy.
In terms of ride and handling, I thought the CX-5 was pretty comfortable. Steering is tight, and the overall ride was smooth – even over those pockmarked Chicago streets.
I really like Mazda interiors. They’re sleek and attractive, and they manage to walk the fine line between simple and boring. So, if you’ve ever driven a Mazda, the CX-5 interior will be familiar. The leather seats in the Grand Touring model were comfortable yet supportive, and all the knobs and dials on the center stack were within easy reach. My one main complaint: the headrests. They tip forward and hit your head at an award angle, pushing your head into discomfort.
Overall, however, there’s a lot to love about the new CX-5. I mean, starting with the base Sport ($20,995), you’ll have standard features such as push button start, steering wheel audio controls, side impact air curtains and traction control. But a couple of the features that make this a city dwellers dream (automatic transmission, Bluetooth, rearview camera, blind spot monitoring) are optional upgrades or come standard in the upper level models. I’m a huge manual transmission fan, but I do have to admit that I was disappointed that upgrading to the automatic will add more than $1,000 to the ticket price. However, the good news: If you add the automatic and Bluetooth to the base model, you’ll not only have a city-ready vehicle, but you’ll also spend less than $24K.
Chicago-worthy rating: 9. I really liked pretty much everything about the all-new Mazda CX-5. From the true-to-its-word fuel efficiency to the affordable pricing, this cute ute has a lot to offer to someone who lives in the city. It parks well, drives well, stores stuff and actually looks attractive. I gave it the small ding because Bluetooth is a $400 option. As more and more cities become hands-free like Chicago, I truly think this should be standard fare across the board.