When the CX-5 first showed up in the Mazda lineup, it was an all-new compact SUV, using a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engine for all three trim levels Sport, Touring and Grand Touring.
The engine, with 155-hp and 150 lb-ft of torque and its matching SKYACTIV transmissions produced the kind of fuel economy, performance and dynamics that most enthusiasts appreciate. But there's also a segment of the market that still wants more. Fortunately, Mazda had the answer with its new 2.5-liter variant of their successful SKYACTIV-G 2.0 engine.
Developed by Mazda, SKYACTIV technology is a philosophy that more power, torque and better fuel economy can be achieved by improving overall efficiency without escalating cost.
For 2014, the high 13:1 compression ratio and unique 4-2-1 exhaust system of the original 2.0-liter engine have been included in the design of the all-new SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter gas engine. With nearly 19 percent more horsepower and 23 percent more torque, the 2.5L nearly matches the fuel economy of the 2.0L version. Redline is 6,800 rpm in the 2.0-liter and at 6,500 rpm in the 2.5-liter engine.
All Sport models will continue to be equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and deliver fuel economy of 26 /35 /29 city/highway/combined mpg with the six-speed manual, or 26 /32 /29 with the six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for all-wheel drive models remains at 25 /31 /28 mpg. At 35 mpg, the CX-5 still has the highest highway fuel economy of any SUV in North America, hybrid or not.
Available only with an automatic transmission, Touring and Grand Touring models get the new 2.5 L engine. With 184 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 185 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm, the CX-5 becomes one of the more powerful non-turbocharged compact SUVs. EPA fuel economy numbers show minimal sacrifice in efficiency with 25 city/32 highway mpg for front-wheel-drive vehicles and 24 city/30 highway mpg for AWD vehicles.
When we first test drove the 2012 model with the 2.0-liter engine, we thought it performed quite well, but driving the 2014 2.5 L version made us think differently. Where the 2.0 had to continually change gears in hilly terrain, the 2.5 just marched on without hesitation. Launch from a stop felt smoother, probably because gear changes happened sooner and under less engine load.
All-wheel drive models have a slightly larger fuel tank than those with front-wheel drive to keep the driving range similar at about 430 miles. CX-5 Sport models can be equipped with the optional six-speed automatic transmission, but the AWD system is not available with the manual transmission.
Sport and Touring models have 17-inch alloy wheels with P225/65R17 Yokohama all-season tires. Grand Touring models ride on 19-inch alloy wheels fitted with P225/55R19 Toyo A23 all-season tires.
CX-5’s exterior was developed for optimal airflow. Its 0.33 coefficient of drag helps fuel efficiency and keeps wind noise at a minimum. A trendy rear spoiler also helps with aerodynamics.
Mazda designers think that drivers feel secure in a vehicle that reacts as precisely and predictably as they react, so steering and braking controls are linear, reacting to small inputs with small actions and large actions to large inputs.
The lightweight chassis includes a front strut suspension and a multi-link rear format. While features may seem familiar, every individual component was examined to ensure it provides the greatest efficiency, lightest weight and offers the appropriate levels of driver involvement.
The SKYACTIV-Body is comprised of 61 percent high-tensile steel, creating structure that Mazda says is eight percent lighter than previous Mazda vehicles. CX-5 also uses 1,800MPa ultra high-tensile steel in the front and rear bumper beams, making them 20 percent stronger and 10.6 pounds lighter than previous generation bumpers.
The cabin feels roomy with seating for five adults. There’s ample legroom and headroom in the second row, with a wide cavity under the front seats that offers rear passenger foot space and a place to hide personal effects. The driver-oriented layout has easy-to-read screens and the frequently used controls are easy to reach. The instrument cluster has lighting that makes the gauges bright and visible in the daylight as well as in darkness. The three-spoke steering wheel has a tilt-and-telescopic column with steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls. Push-button start is standard on all models.
There’s a choice of two cloth fabric patterns or genuine perforated leather. Six- or eight-way power-adjustable driver seats are standard on all but the Sport model, which is equipped with a six-way manual adjustable driver’s seat. Soft materials on the door trims and upper dash panels, piano black accents and satin chrome elements further convey a well-crafted feeling of quality.
Rear cargo space increases from 34.1 cubic feet almost doubles with the rear seats folded down. Sport models have a standard 60/40-split fold-flat seat configuration while Touring and Grand Touring models come with 40/20/40-split rear seats.
A 5.8-inch touch screen located in the center console displays phone, audio and navigation functions. Other available features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity as well as iPod audio playback in which iPod information can be accessed via the touch screen. USB and auxiliary jack connections are standard and located in the center console storage bin.
When a smartphone is connected, Short Message Service (SMS) messages can be received and shown on the touch screen monitor. The system can then articulate the messages as well as allow users to send replies using fixed phrases. A new speech recognition system also allows users to repeat and shuffle audio tracks as well as search and select folders.
A nine-speaker 225-watt Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound system is optional, as are HD Radio, Pandora and an in-dash TomTom technology-based navigation system. The navigation module utilizes an SD card for storing customized maps and regular update mapping content with any personal computer.
Available on the Touring and Grand Touring models, the Technology Package adds the navigation module, an auto-dimming mirror with Homelink, automatic on/off bi-xenon auto-leveling headlights, a pivoting adaptive front-lighting system, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a new safety feature called Smart City Brake Support.
SCBS is designed to help you avoid a head-on collision at speeds up to 19 miles per hour. A laser sensor mounted at the top of the front windshield detects an obtrusive object and calculates the risk of a collision. If the driver fails to act, the SCBS system activates an automatic braking function.
All 2014 CX-5 models come standard with advanced vehicle safety features, including six airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution with brake assist, dynamic stability control with traction control, tire pressure monitoring, roll stability control and lower anchors and tethers for children.
Prices start at $21,195.