HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV-G 2.5 Review


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Mazda CX-5


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE CX-5 VEHICLE
Now in its second year, the 2014 Mazda CX-5 steps into a bigger 2.5-liter engine with SKYACTIV turbo technology for a compact crossover ready to turn the attention to strong performance and utility function.

I drove a 2014 Mazda CX-5 with the upgraded 184-horsepower SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and front-wheel drive. Three trims are available – Sport, Touring and my Grand Touring test drive – offering the following standard features: leather-trimmed sport seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; eight-way power driver’s seat; heated front seats; dual zone climate control; 5.8-inch multi-information display; rearview camera; upgraded Bose audio system; auxiliary input jack and USB port; Bluetooth; HD Radio; Pandora Radio; nineteen-inch wheels; moonroof; fog lamps; and dual stainless steel exhaust. Vehicle price came to $27,620.

The Mazda CX-5 – with the smaller 155-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder – competes with your family-friendly small crossover like the Honda CR-V, newly revised Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage and Ford Escape. But with the new addition of a bigger engine, it also stands next to the sportier Volkswagen Tiguan and the refined Acura RXD. The Mazda crossover family also includes the mid-size CX-7 and the three-row CX-9.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: My Grand Touring trim featured an attract interior donned in dark colors with contrast stitching on the seats along with brushed chrome accents. The center stack and dash design is a tad underwhelming, coming at you at an awkward ninety-degree tilt. I found the driver’s seat needed a particular arrangement to accommodate functionality of the controls and view of the display. The tech itself is straight-forward, and although the touchscreen is small, it does use outstanding 3-D navigation graphics thanks to TomTom.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The CX-5 earned scores of “Good” in all crash test areas with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and is a Top Safety Pick. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle an overall rating of 5-Stars – up one from last model. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, five-passenger three-point safety belts, dynamic stability control, traction control, hill launch assist, and an advanced airbag system that includes side-impact bags.

Cost Issues: The base Sport trim begins at $21,195. The price of my fully loaded Grand Touring trim – which included several options, such as a $1,625 Tech Package (navigation, HID headlamps with auto-leveling), a $200 retractable cargo cover and a $100 rear bumper guard – reached $29,845.

Activity & Performance Ability: The larger 2.5-liter engine proves to be on the cutting edge of performance technology, delivering instant power with precise handling and smooth shifting for characteristics not usually found on small crossovers. Mazda does offer all-wheel drive, or Active Torque Split, to keep this ride versatile for those who drive more challenging road surfaces.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy estimates for the larger 2.5-liter are just 25 miles-per gallon city and 32 highway, compared to the 2-liter’s 26 miles-per-gallon city and 32 highway. Equip the 2.5-liter with all-wheel drive and stats drop slightly to a competitive 24-city and 30-highway.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2014 Mazda CX-5 provides a pleasing combination of sporty performance and utility function – top it off with a low price and competitive fuel economy, this vehicle is a strong choice among members of the smaller crossover market.

2013 Katrina Ramser

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