Mazda’s 5 and CX-5: A Family 10

By The Car Family

Mazda should win the best underdog car award for its remarkable creation of economical, fun to drive, and utilitarian vehicles. Typical of these are its updated CX-5 CUV and its minivan, named the 5. If you love to drive, the 5 and the CX-5 are a must to test.

Mazda CX-5

The 2014 CX-5 is a compact CUV that is the most entertaining to drive of any of its competitors. The trade-off is that you don’t get as much interior cargo space, but 65 plus cubic feet is not only ample, but only a few feet under that of the much larger Honda CR-V. The Mazda also gets better fuel mileage and has better handling.

Make sure you are driving the one with the Skyactiv technology which sharpens performance and provides increased mileage. We got over 30 mpg in mixed driving with the all-wheel drive, 2.5 version. That makes it superior to the Subaru, the previous best gas mileage champion in the all-wheel drive segment. The government has rated the model at 35 mpg on the highway for the base model’s 2.0 engine.

The 2.5-liter Skyactiv 4-cylinder engine is standard in Touring and Grand Touring models and provides a host of improvements, from weight reduction to better aerodynamic bodies, to make this Mazda a heady performer considering its size.

The five-passenger CX-5 has two rows of seats which can be upgraded from cloth to leather. There is good leg room in the second row and the cargo hold is generous with over 34 cubic feet of space. The ergonomics are straight forward, but the GPS is slow to respond and the audio outputs are limited.

Sport, Touring and Grand Touring are the trim versions. We recommend you go for the high-end models as they have so many features including the larger engine, blind-spot monitoring, Bluetooth with upgraded stereo, a rearview camera, and a larger monitor. The Grand model offers standard safety equipment such as stability/traction control, antilock brakes, and front, side and side-curtain airbags. Worth every penny. As for the all-wheel drive option, that would depend on your weather conditions. Safety wise you can also get the Smart City Brake Support, which can automatically stop the car at speeds under 20 mph to help avoid a collision. There are many other options, too, but we found the front and rear parking sensors must haves.

The bottom line is that this is a terrific driving machine that looks good, drives well, and even runs on regular fuel. A bargain with a starting price at just over $20,000, but the Grand Touring models can breach the $30,000 price point. Determine what you what you want in terms of options and models, and note the dealers are offering some excellent prices.

Family conference: Cute, comfortable, and affordable, the CX-5 comes with a plethora of features that make it a compelling choice for those who march to that different drummer. The bottom line is that Mazda makes the best handling, affordable, vehicles in the nation and the CX-5 continues that tradition.

Mazda 5

Nimble, great visibility, and enough power to make it fun to drive, the 5 is the utility vehicle of the future that carries a price tag from the past with a starting price just over $20,000 and we went 25 mpg in mixed driving. Despite its exterior size the interior is spacious. With the rear seat folded down you have over 44 cubic feet of cargo space, and Mazda has incorporated a number of small spaces to provide storage for cell phones, drinks and much more. The seating is comfortable, and the ergonomics are well done. There is room for six by using the third row of seats, but the last row is small as opposed to the more generous front seats. The second row in our test vehicle had captain’s chairs which provided ample leg and head room and slide and recline. There is an abundance of features on the more upscale models, but even the base version has cruise control, automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, six-speaker AM/FM/CD system with USB and auxiliary inputs, six airbags, traction control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine makes 157 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque running through a five-speed automatic transmission. For a family of four this Mazda makes sense. If you opt for the much more expensive Honda, Nissan and Toyota models you are going to be carrying around a lot of unneeded, and expensive to fix, equipment. So think carefully if you are looking for a minivan at what you are really going to use it for.

Family conference: This Mazda 5 is fun to drive. Really drive. It is easy to park and easy on the environment. Of the three versions, the Sport, Touring and Grand Touring, we advocate you take a look at the best price the dealer is offering on each model as we have found for only a few dollars a month more you can get a lot of extra features. Regardless, you get a handy vehicle that has wide opening side doors and a tight turning radius. Taken with the Mazda CX-5 this pair makes for a commonsense answer for those who enjoy driving and saving money and aren’t afraid of not having the biggest gas guzzler on the block. Mazda’s Family 10.

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