By Michele Spencer
Road trip to Central California from Southern California, in six hours? It was no problem in a 2017 Mazda CX-5. We’re talking about a Mazda, after all, with its “Driving Matters” mantra. I’m reminded of the children’s book about the little train engine that rallied to pull all the other train cars up and over the hill, called The Little Engine That Could. I consider Mazda to be the Little Car Company That Does. This mid-size SUV crossover glides through the rough patches of the highway like they were nothing. Its quiet and roomy cabin, appointed with plenty of cup holders and bins for snacks and bottled water, front and rear USB ports, a telescoping heated leather steering wheel, and heated front and rear seats, made it an oasis of comfort for the drive up the 5 and the 101. Five people would be very comfortable for a long drive in the CX-5.
Enhanced safety features that made it a worry free drive included the dynamic stability control and traction control systems, brake assist, back up camera, and the wonderful lane departure warnings – all standard on the top-of-the line tester, a Grand Touring. (The base model is Sport; the mid-level trim is Touring.)
When I stopped for gas and snacks on the road, the cargo cover (optional, $250) snapped right into place over my suitcase so there would be nothing to see through the back hatch window, so there was one less thing to worry about as a solo traveler. The infotainment system was easy to learn, with a combination of touch screen (7-inch pop up color display, nicely placed on the dash) and knob commands (in the console) for Bluetooth phone operation, music, navigation, and monitoring fuel consumption.
In stop and go LA traffic leaving town, I got 29.6 mpg, beating the sticker of 24 city, and on the open road, I got 33.5 mpg, beating the sticker of 31 highway, courtesy of the Skyactiv technology that is available on all trim levels. I could have gone the entire drive without stopping for gas, which is a credit to the 2.5 liter four cylinder Skyactiv engine.
Active driving display on the front windshield shows the driver real time miles per hour and street signs in a holograph type display, but can be turned off easily if the driver finds the prompts annoying. Climbing up the Grapevine, which takes a good 20 minutes, putting the CX-5 into sport mode enhanced the 187 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque for a strong ride up without hesitation or vibration, even with the air conditioning running. On-ramps were a breeze, as the Mazda DNA is all about handling.
As far as size, it’s between the Mazda CX-3 crossover and the CX-9 luxury grade SUV. It is roughly the same size as a Lexus RX-350.
Base MSRP on the tester is $29,395.00, plus $1,830.00 for the premium package, $250 for the cargo cover, and the $940 delivery fee from Hiroshima, bringing the total MSRP to $32,785.00 as tested. Compared with others in this segment it’s a bargain, considering the great ride quality, want-for-nothing interior amenities, and the five star government safety ratings.
The CX-5 proves once again that Mazda truly is the Little Car Company That DOES.
2017 Mazda CX-5
- Manufactured in Hiroshima, Japan. Japanese parts=- 90%.
- Warranty: 60 month/60K mile powertrain; 36 month/36K mile bumper to bumper
- Also included, all trim levels: 24 hour roadside assistance
- Spare Tire: Temporary spare
- Wheels: 19 inch alloy.
Other interesting features, standard on the Grand Touring: G-vectoring control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, rear wiper, heater power mirrors, LED headlights with auto on/off, rear roof spoiler, electronic parking brake, steering sensor, power open/close rear hatch, Bose 10 speaker system, split fold down rear seats.
Premium Package (on tester, $1,830): Driver seat memory with 2 positions, 6 way power front passenger seat, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, active driving display, and windshield wiper de-icer.