2014 Mazda CX-5 Delivers Big Time

mazda-cx-5-frontConsidering the sheer number of SUVs and crossover vehicles seen in any given parking lot these days, there’s no doubt this is a crowded field with many relevant players. The key is finding the one amid the crowd that best promises to meet your needs and speak to your sensibilities. If ‘green’ takes a top spot in your playbook along with sportiness, functionality, and value, then you’re a candidate for Mazda’s CX-5.

Our initial experience with the all-new 2013 Mazda CX-5 last year was enlightening, and really, eye-opening. We’ve driven crossover SUVs for many years and can attest that for the most part, high fuel efficiency is not their game. Rather, it’s all about style, functionality, safety, and comfort. The ability to haul people and gear is important. That usually comes at the cost of fuel economy because these vehicles are typically larger and heavier than passenger vehicles by nature, which means greater power is required to move them.

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But that changes with crossovers like the Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV. A bit more compact in stature, the CX-5 is right-sized for most buyers wishing all the attributes of a crossover SUV but don’t want to wince at the pump. This model’s eye-catching style is a good opener for drawing potential buyers, as is its surprisingly accommodating interior, comfortable five-place seating, and approachable price.

Cinching the deal is this vehicle’s fun-to-drive nature and admirable fuel efficiency. Two fuel-efficient engines are available. The base Sport model comes standard with Mazda’s 2.0-liter, 155 horsepower SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder powerplant. Uplevel Touring and Grand Touring models are motivated by a new-for-2014 2.5-liter, 184 horsepower SKYACTIV-G engine.

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While perfectly fine with 2.0-liter CX-5 variants driven before, we do enjoy the extra 29 horsepower provided by this model’s 184 hp 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G engine. Acceleration and gear transitions are crisp, as expected of the Mazda marque.

Cars of Change editors have been living with a 2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring long-term test car for some months now to get an in-depth sense of the model. During our time with the car to date, editors have come to appreciate the CX-5’s stylish design and its notable functionality. Over the first 8,000 miles of our year-long test, we have experienced the CX-5 under conditions familiar to most of our readers – daily commuting, running errands around town, and road trips that allow long-distance evaluation – with the latter often finding us folding the rear seats down and stuffing the cargo area with an amazing array of gear for our travels.

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We’ve found the CX-5 to be nimble and fun as a daily driver under all these conditions, blending efficient motoring with the sophistication we like in an SUV. The cabin is comfortable and the controls intuitive. We’re sold on the optional blind spot monitoring system and especially the rear-view camera, an indispensable feature in our parallel parking-focused town. While lightweight high-tensile steel is used prolifically to help lessen curb weight and contribute toward the CX-5 Grand Touring’s EPA estimated 32 highway mpg (35 mpg in the Sport variant with the smaller 2.0-liter engine), this model doesn’t feel like a lightweight with its satisfying and quiet ride.

Mazda’s CX-5 delivers big time for its very reasonable $21,195 to $28,870 price tag, offering an array of desirable features with the benefit of class-leading fuel economy. The real bottom line for most is how all this comes together in the daily driving experience, and in that regard we’ve found the CX-5 delivering as promised, consistently.

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