There were two reasons behind my interest in booking the Mazda CX-5 for a long-term review.
First, I wanted to check if its slightly smaller cargo space than its main rivals would be a problem and second, I wanted to check the effectiveness of the SKYACTIV system in winter.
The Mazda CX-5 is known for being fun to drive, but also for its fuel economy. But these impressions come mainly from summer reviews or a week in winter. Reviewing the vehicle over a prolonged period with the weather outside far beyond freezing was in order.
And then there’s that whole cargo space thing. At less than 1,000 liters, the Mazda CX-5 offers less trunk space than the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Forester. That said, with 966 liters of space available at all times and 1,852 liters with the rear seat lowered, you get more space than the Hyundai Tucson, the Kia Sportage or the Ford Escape.
Finally, as our Mazda CX-5 GT was equipped with all the equipment we could get in a CX-5 including the i-Activesense suite of active safety technology, we figured we’d see how useful the CX-5’s driver assistance technologies are and more importantly, how intrusive they are.
Let’s start there. The i-Activesense system includes intelligent cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning and prevention, and adaptive headlights.
Forward collision warning with auto braking is the system that warns you if another vehicle brakes suddenly in front of you and will intervene if you do not react. This is also the kind of system that can drive you crazy if it is too nervous and continuously warns you of some imaginary danger even if you are in perfect control.
The Mazda CX-5 passed the test here. The system is not too nervous or intrusive and comes into play only when we need it. Only once did it chime up in traffic and in general it wasn’t as nervous as Honda’s Honda Sensing.
On the other hand, Nissan’s ProPilot is more advanced with a lane-keeping system that closely mimics what you’ll find on a premium luxury vehicle. There is a price difference, however, with the ProPilot being more expensive.
Mazda CX-5 Winter Fuel Consumption
The Mazda CX-5 GT that we drove in November and December is equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 187 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. On paper it shows an average fuel consumption rating of 10.2 liters per 100 kilometers in the city and 8.2 liters per 100 kilometers on the highway.
In October, our average fuel consumption was 8.8 liters per 100 kilometers. That’s less than the Nissan Rogue we drove for 1 month (8.9 liters per 100 kilometers).
When the cold set in, fuel consumption increased a little, but it wasn’t alarming. In December, we broke the 9.0 liters per 100 kilometers barrier (9.3 l/100 km), but in all honesty I was expecting more than 10.0 liters per 100 kilometers.
We still have a few weeks left with our Mazda CX-5, but I expect fuel consumption to remain around its current average, which is reasonable for an all-wheel drive, 187-horsepower SUV.
The Mazda CX-5 on the road
I was able to drive the Mazda CX-5 in almost any condition and it never disappointed. It’s still the sportiest, most dynamic compact SUV you can buy. The only models that come close are the more expensive Volkswagen Tiguan and the less versatile Kia Sportage.
Handling is precise, and the steering wheel has a heaviness to it reminiscent of a German vehicle.
I was also able to drive the CX-5 on the 401 for about four hours, a feat in and of itself given how drop-dead boring that road is, and actually enjoy my time behind the wheel of the CX-5. It was relatively quiet and quite comfortable, and the experience confirmed that Mazda’s compact SUV is more balanced than you would expect.
And what about cargo space? While it’s true that the CX-5 is not as spacious as the Forester, Nissan Rogue or Honda CR-V, the difference is barely noticeable and there are very few instances where you’ll kick yourself for not buying an SUV with more space.
It’s not all perfect, however. The infotainment system can be a pain. Everything is controlled by a wheel located between the seats and we do not really get used to it even after a few weeks. There are compact SUVs that are more ergonomic and user-friendly.
It also lacks storage space inside. We are constantly looking for places to store our phone, our wallet and all the other stuff we do not want to keep in our pockets. Moreover, the interior of the CX-5 isn’t as open and airy as the cabins of the CR-V or Nissan Rogue.
Conclusion of this long-term Mazda CX-5 review, part 1
1) Winter does not affect the efficiency of the Mazda CX-5, which remains one of the most fuel-effient in its class even in cold weather and even with the 2.5-liter engine.
2) The Mazda CX-5 is truly one of the most fun compact SUVs to drive
3) The i-Activesense system is not intrusive and is a useful addition
4) There is enough cargo space for most needs
5) There is not enough storage space inside
6) The multimedia system is not as easy to use as one would like.