It’s amazing to think that a relatively little thing can make such a huge difference. By increasing the 4-cylinder’s displacement by 0.5L, the 2014 Mazda CX-5 has been transformed.
And absolutely for the better. The 2014 Mazda CX-5 has, in one swift move, put aside all my misgivings that came to light after my test drive of a 2013 CX-5 last year. So good is the work done by Mazda on the 2014 that the CX-5 hoisted itself near the top of my list of favourite compact crossovers alongside the Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Almost overnight, the 2014 Mazda CX-5 became powerful and pleasant to go along with its already good looks. Mazda has done a stellar job.
What is a Mazda CX-5?
The Mazda CX-5 is a most compact crossover that brings the typical Mazda sporty flair to the table. The recipe is so successful that the roads are covered with CX-5s.
The CX-5’s five-passenger capacities make it an ideal runabout for small families that consider right-sizing an important aspect. The CX-7, which it replaces, did well but clearly the CX-5 packaging makes it all the more attractive and now far more competitive.
SKYACTIV: You may have heard of it. It is what defines all of the latest products from the Hiroshima, Japan-based company. The CX-5 was the first to be endowed with the combination of uber-efficient and lightweight components that sum up what SKYACTIV brings to the table.
The base engine is a 155 hp 2.0L. The new-for-2014 is a 2.5L 4-cylinder good for 184 hp. Torque numbers are the ones that speak volumes as they jumped to 185 lb-ft from 150.
With the $22,995 FWD 2.0L GX, a 6-speed manual ‘box is offered. For all others, whether front or AWD, they get a 6-speed automatic.
The price range increases to $35,045 for the as–tested, fully decked out GT with the Technology package. At this price, the 2014 Mazda CX-5 is equipped with navigation, Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) and bi-xenon headlights.
SCBS is a frontal collision avoidance system that functions at low speeds such as in the city or traffic. It uses laser sensors that detect an obstacle or vehicle ahead and, should the driver fail to attempt obstacle avoidance, SCBS will automatically prime the brakes or, to the extreme, apply the brakes and reduce engine output.
Driving the Mazda CX-5
A whole new world opened up to me when I left the office with my 2014 Mazda CX-5. From the onset, I’ve always liked the CX-5, but had a small issue with the limited power available from the 2.0L. For most, it was adequate but the extra grunt from the 2.5L proves to me that a little more power is a whole lot better.
The extra torque is the most appreciable result in the bump in displacement. In full swing at 4,000 rpm, the engine is a willing revver as it’ll happily climb to 6,000 revs, quickly. From there, the autobox does quick work of jumping up and down from one gear to another.
The transmission is especially good and deserves its own paragraph. At low speeds, it upshifts expertly swiftly. Under hard acceleration, the box is equally at home swapping cogs and keeps up nicely with the 2.5L. The manual mode is also very good. Not only are the + and – on the right ends of the shifter’s travel, but downshifts are matched with throttle blips.
From a ride stand point, the 2014 Mazda CX-5 fairs better than the 2013. For some reason, the CUV’s suspension is far more relaxed than the 2013’s. The CX-5 continues to handle impressively well, however, without the harness and plain discomfort I experienced last year.
Steering remains precise without being especially crisp, and I really do enjoy the strong and positive feel delivered by the four-wheel disc brakes.
Inside and out of the Mazda CX-5
The 2014 Mazda CX-5 is a Mazda through and through. The shell’s shape in modern, sharp and dynamic: the perfect combination to attract the widest possible clientele. The standard 17” alloys fare well, although the GT’s 19” wheels take it all up a notch.
The cabin is well appointed, generally speaking. Fit and finish are quite good and the materials (soft- and hard-touch) blend well into each other. My only gripe here is the variety of display colors and fonts from the gauges touch screen and HVAC controls. There’s a lack of continuity that Mazda should address in time.
The seats up front provide the proper amount of support where needed and the rear bench is fine for two adults. The boot is surprisingly deep and capable, perfect for a stroller and some day-bags.
Comparing the Mazda CX-5
The 2014 Mazda CX-5 can now be favourably compared with every other member of its segment, namely the Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Ford Escape, and Toyota RAV4.
My only real concern with the CX-5 was my observed 10.5L/100km average consumption. The numbers are far higher than indicated by Transport Canada, but they find themselves in the norm for most of the compact CUVs we’ve driven over the last two years.
Its price range is also spot on with its most direct competition.