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Mazda's 2014 AWD CX-5 has it all, plus a compelling price

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Mazda has come to be known for building quality vehicles and since they changed the smiley face grille over their entire line, they’re now more stylish sedans and SUVs like the compact CX-5 tested.

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Unlike some others, Mazda has found a way to build sport and comfort into their SUV line that now includes their midsize, three-row, top-line CX-9. Gone, however, is the CX-7 that was replaced by the CX-5.

We tested the fully loaded Grand Touring AWD model that uses Mazda’s 2.5L, Skyactiv 184-hp four-cylinder engine that produces 185 lb/ft of torque. Coupled to the standard 6-speed automatic transmission, the combination gets EPA mileage ratings of 24 city, 30-highway mpg. That’s not bad for a vehicle weighing 3,500 pounds. It’s also one of the best mileage figures in the jam-packed class of compact SUVs.

Added to that, the CX-5 has been 0-60 tested by Mazda at a modest 7.8 seconds. The engines’ power curve was adequate on flat roads, but the engine seemed to breathe hard during uphill jaunts with two adults aboard. Perhaps a turbo could kick in some extra pep.

In case you’re wondering what Skyactiv means, it’s Mazda’s exclusive technology that uses direct injection, high compression and low friction materials to get the aforementioned numbers.

Under the Grand Touring Tech Package ($1,695), Mazda includes their new Smart City Brake Support System. SCBS is a collision system that helps prevent rear end collisions in traffic when speeds are between 3-19 mph. Mazda uses a laser sensor in the windshield to sense an obstacle upon which it shortens braking time when the driver hits the brakes.

This technology, offered on many luxury sedans, is a bargain for how it’s priced. Included with the package are HID adaptive headlights, auto-dimming mirror, rain-sensing wipers and a Tom Tom GPS nav system that it just OK. It lacks detail and I could not figure out how to position the directional arrow in the way the car was traveling. It pointed rearward instead of forward. That, and at intersections the arrow kept rotating like it didn’t know the direction the car was pointed. During destination mode, it showed only the road the car was on, not the other roads.

In contrast to the GPS, Mazda added the nicety of text-to-speech ability for compatible Smartphone’s.

Mazda interior designers did a nice job on the interior. Nothing extravagant just practical, comfortable and intuitive. HVAC controls are large rotary dials that can be operated without having to take the eyes off the road. The gauge cluster too is straightforward.

The Grand Touring model comes with perforated leather supportive front seats and relatively flat rear seats. The black leather seats had nice contrasting stitching and the fronts had excellent extended under thigh support.

The back seat is rated for three but only if the occupants are teens or tweens, not three adults. Ingress/egress however, is easy thanks to wide opening doors, ample leg and headroom and a low 19-inch step-in.

Cargo capacity is rated at 34.1 cubic feet, but more meaningful is that is measures 35.5 inches deep, 44 wide and 32 high. Flip the 40-20-40 split folding seats and depth extends to 66 inches.

Shod with Toyo 19-inch tires, the CX-5 provided a compliant and pleasing ride over smooth road surfaces, but a bit jarring over rough roads and unimproved railroad crossings.

Although it has AWD and a slightly higher undercarriage clearance, the CX-5 is not intended for off-roading. Inclement weather and modest snow depths are its forte.

Handling was impressive as it took sharp turns with nary any body lean. There was no tippy feeling when doing so as the CX-5 remained planted.

With over 40 features, amenities and safety items, Mazda includes a host of goodies as standard such as Hill Launch Assist, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring, tire pressure monitoring, 5.8-inch color LCD screen, rearview camera, fog lamps, rear roof spoiler, electric power assisted steering and more. The only options were Soul Red paint ($306), retractable cargo cover ($200), rear bumper guard ($100), the aforementioned Grand Touring Tech Package and Sirius radio that is standard. All this for $31,890 after a base of $28,870.

Compared to the wide array of competition, the CX-5 so equipped, is a compelling deal.

To test-drive a CX-5 yourself, stop by Scott Mazda in Allentown or Young Mazda in Easton. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.

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