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Heels on Wheels - 2015 Mazda CX-5 Review


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2015 Mazda CX-5

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

INTRO TO THE CX-5 VEHICLE
As compact SUVs continue to gain interest for their space convenience and gas-sipping ways, the Mazda CX-5 adds a taste of performance to that with SKYACTIV engine technology. A dark horse in a rather competitive market, consumers should also appreciate all the value (translation: interior comforts) that Mazda generously builds into each and all their model trim levels, making this a crossover designated for any budget.

I drove a 2015 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 Grand Touring – with my fully loaded Grand Touring trim featuring 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 $28,220.

The Mazda CX-5 also offers a smaller 155-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder. Some favorites in this segment include the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage and Ford Escape. If performance for this class is an interest, I’d also take a look at the Volkswagen Tiguan or the all-new and luxurious Lexus NX. 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: Largely a crossover for last model year, the Grand Touring trim features an attractive 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. Opt for the Tech Package and you get a TomTom technology-based navigation system, bi-xenon leveling headlights, a pivoting Adaptive Front-lighting System, and Smart City Brake Support. The tech itself is straight-forward, and although the touchscreen is small, it does use outstanding 3-D navigation graphics.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2015 Mazda 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. 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. An interesting addition, the Smart City Brake Support uses a laser sensor mounted high on the inside of the front windshield that detects an obstruction, and will reduce the brake rotor travel to allow for more immediate braking should the system calculate there is a risk of a collision.

Cost Issues: The base Mazda CX-5 Sport trim begins at $21,795. The 2015 Honda CR-V starts at $23,445; the Kia Sportage at $21,750; the Nissan Rogue at $22,790; and the Toyota RAV4 at $23,680.

Activity & Performance Ability: The larger 2.5-liter engine has proven to deliver sharp and immediate results, further supported by smooth shifting and handling characteristics not usually found on smaller crossovers. It’s a quite a noticeable difference from the Rogue, which is plagued with the typical constrains of an uninspired four-cylinder. However, you’ll also want to check out the CR-V’s new powertrain technology stolen from the Accord. 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 with front-wheel drive are 26 miles-per gallon city and 33 highway – both categories have gained a 1 mile-per-gallon increase in conservation from last year’s model (the Rogue claims the same numbers). With all-wheel drive, stats are 24-city and 30-highway for the CX-5.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2015 Mazda CX-5 continues to serve a satisfying combination of sporty performance and utility function – top it off with affordable pricing and even more competitive fuel economy, and this compact crossover is staged to be the next family vehicle.

©2015 Katrina Ramser

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