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2014 Mazda CX-5 2.5L Ride and Review By Larry Nutson

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2014 Mazda CX-5 with 184HP 2.5L
A global success made better

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel

The all-new for 2013 Mazda CX-5 is a global sales success. So much so that Mazda has made production increases three times since its introduction.

The CX-5 is one of the fastest selling vehicles in the U.S. market, moving out of dealer inventory virtually as soon as they arrive.

The CX-5 has received numerous awards including the AUTOBYTEL Crossover of the Year, Motorweek Driver’s Choice Award for Best Small Utility, an IIHS Top Safety Pick, Best Small SUV by Car and Driver, a Consumer Guide Best Buy, and more. Most recently the CX-5 was one of three finalists for the North American Truck/Utility of the Year.

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Now for 2014 this compact SUV is getting further improved with the availability of a second engine choice. A 2.5L 4-cylinder pumping out 184HP engine is now standard in the Touring and Grand Touring models, which together account for about 70% of sales volume.

The hills of west Texas just outside Austin provided the perfect mid-winter driving environment to “feel” this new powertrain in the CX-5. The ancient live oaks and the undulating hills of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, which was originally established to protect the habitat of migratory birds, gave us the opportunity to run the 2.5L CX-5 through its paces…no snow, no rain, dry roads and temps in the mid-70s did it all.

As a reminder, Mazda’s SKYACTIV suite of technology is an engineering philosophy that encompasses the engine, transmission, suspension, and chassis. My overview on SKYACTIV can be found HERE on Noteworthy is that Mazda’s highly-efficient SKYACTIV technology has just been named Green Car Journal's 2013 Green Car Technology Award winner at the Washington Auto Show (WAS).

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The new 2.5L engine delivers 29% more horsepower, 35% more torque all with the same 32mpg highway in the FWD model and only 1 mpg less in the city, at 25mpg. All model configurations of the CX-5 will deliver more than 430 miles of driving range operating on regular unleaded gasoline. Mazda says the CX-5 offers the best highway mpg of any SUV in America, including hybrids.

My original review of the 2013 Mazda CX-5 can be found HERE on

CX-5 prices start at $21,195. Our drive through the Texas hills was in a top-of-the-line Grand Touring AWD model with a base price of $28,870. Add a few options and also a Grand Touring Package that not only includes a navigation system but now also features Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) and the total runs up to $31,890 with delivery fee.

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SCBS is designed to assist a driver in avoiding a head-on collision when driving at low speeds, roughly between three to 19 miles per hour. A laser sensor mounted at the top of the front windshield is used detect an obtrusive object and will reduce the brake rotor travel to quicken braking should the system calculate that there is a risk of a collision occurring. If the driver fails to perform an avoidance maneuver, the SCBS system will activate an automatic braking function. SCBS was developed to mitigate damage due to a collision and not as a replacement for actual driver operation and control.

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As I reported in my drive last year of the 2013 model I thought the 2.0L powertrain did a fair job of moving the vehicle. It wasn’t buzzy and yielded adequate acceleration from stop, mid-range overtaking and cruising ability were both good. However I thought if you loaded up the CX-5 with folks in the rear seat and a load in the cargo area a bit more engine performance might be nice to have. Take the CX-5 into any of the hilly country in the U.S. and certainly more oomph would be wanted.

Now the SKYACTIV-G 2.5L with its increased horsepower and torque answers that concern. My drive in the Texas hill country with another journalist in the front passenger certainly left us with no feeling of any shortcomings. Acceleration from stop is smooth and quick with no sense that the engine was being overworked. Push the pedal to the floor for overtaking and response is quick and immediate. Mazda employs a kick-down switch to downshift the automatic and enable fuel system change for full throttle acceleration when needed. Highway cruising at 70mph is not at all noisy, enabling easy conversation, and push down the gas pedal and there is plenty of reserve to overtake even at that speed.

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CX-5 is available with HD Radio™ Technology and Pandora®, which is new for the 2014 model. At around 179 inches length, seating for five, 34cuft of cargo space that jumps to 65cuft if you fold the second seat, I think the CX-5 is well suited for use in both urban and suburban environments. I especially find it very city-friendly. The CX-5 is highly maneuverable and not too unwieldy as many SUVs can be.

It’s often difficult to improve on an already good thing. Mazda has done so with the CX-5. The 2014 models are on sale now.

© Larry Nutson