The CUV market has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade with more and more auto manufacturers wanting a piece of the pie. In 2013, Mazda introduced the CX-5, replacing the Tribute, to try and gain a bigger share of the market. So the question is; how does the Skyactiv Mazda CX5 compare to the competition?
Performance – This mid-range model is powered by Mazda’s Skyactiv 2.5L inline-4 engine producing 184hp, exactly the same as the 2014 Mazda 3 and Mazda 6. A 2.0L 155hp engine is also available in the lower GX model for those who would like even more fuel savings. This being a bigger vehicle than the 3 and roughly the same weight as the 6, it is surprisingly quick for a non V6 or non-turbocharged engine. Obviously this is not a “super CUV” and it won’t scare you with its acceleration but just like the Mazda3, this CX5 will be used primarily in the city where speeds usually don’t exceed 70km/h. Only the 6-speed Skyactiv-drive automatic transmission is available in this trim but it is a very smooth and responsive gearbox. A 6-speed manual gearbox is available on the lower GX trim however I think most people will opt for the automatic.
Handling is where the CX5 sets itself apart from all the other CUVs. The sporty nature of Mazda vehicles shines throughout this CUV from the grippy all wheel drive system to the strong stopping power of the brakes. On the limit it does tend to under steer and in more slippery conditions Dynamic Stability control and Traction control, in accordance with the awd system, make the CX5 a very easy to control vehicle.
Comfort – The interior is where it is a bit of a letdown for me. Although this vehicle is new, the dash and the instrument cluster felt like they were already out of date in comparison to the fabulous dash of the 2014 Mazda3. Space for people and luggage is plentiful and the 40/20/40 split rear seats offer more variety of luggage organization than the traditional 60/40 split. Also the seats themselves are particularly comfortable even when the CX5 is stuck in long boring rush hour traffic situations. Mazda could have also added a bit more sound insulation because at speeds upward of 80km/h, wind and tire noise become very apparent, more so than in the Mazda3.
Odds and Ends – The exterior styling of the CX5 further sets it apart from its competitors. There isn’t an angle from which you can look at it that makes the CX5 look bad. The 17” wheels do look a little bit small compared to the rest of the vehicle but thankfully the GT trim model is available with 19” wheels.
The CX5 is slightly more expensive than its counterparts from Toyota and Honda in this trim but the clever Skyactiv technology helps it achieve better fuel efficiency at 8.5L/100km in city and 6.6L/100km on highway for the all wheel drive model.
Mazda clearly worked hard to entice buyers to the CX5 and it has worked. Superb handling, excellent fuel economy, and brilliant looks make this CUV a stand out in what is otherwise a boring car segment.
Thank you to Open Road Mazda for providing the vehicle and go to their website to view this CX-5 and others like it. www.OpenRoadMazda.ca
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.