"If you think you need a crossover, you can't do better than the CX-5." That would be a pretty bold statement coming from most of the staff at Automobile Magazine, but to hear those words from contributor and perennial anti-SUV crank Jamie Kitman? It borders on heresy.
"I amazed myself when I brought the car back to senior editor Joe Lorio," Kitman raved. "There's a long descending radius exit ramp that's bumpy and narrow; the CX-5 braked and steered as well as the best sports sedan under conditions that ought to have exaggerated any underlying flab and ponderous character." Could the anti-SUV man have become a convert thanks to Mazda's newest crossover? Not quite yet.
"The bad part is the Skyactiv suite of powertrain technologies that might as well - from a performance perspective - be called Skyinactiv. There's no joy in hammering the throttle for acceleration; the CX-5 pulls just like it wants to pull, which is not too urgently. Fortunately, it actually has more than enough power than most will ever need, but it's hard not to imagine that a certain large segment of the population - the ones that likes to feel their head snap back every time they accelerate away from a light - will be disappointed."
Buyers won't be disappointed in the CX-5's real-world fuel economy. While we expected our mileage to vary from the 29 mpg combined rating for our front-wheel drive Grand Touring model, we have been hitting the EPA number spot on or better. "35 mpg was routinely possible in commuter driving to NYC from my suburban home," noted Kitman. "I even spied 40 mpg once. I couldn't get less than 27.5 mpg, which is grounds for celebration in anything that calls itself an SUV." Once the sky-blue crossover was back in his hands, Joe Lorio went on two separate trips upstate where he averaged 29.5 and 30.6 mpg, respectively.
However, it was not all smooth sailing. On the first trip upstate, the radio refused to play music from Lorio's iPhone, despite being plugged in via USB. "I chose the iPod tab, and the system acted as if it were playing the songs but there was no sound. Switched to the Bluetooth tab, and we could hear the music, but the screen did not display the song list or current song title, which was annoying." Lorio isn't the only one irked by this - other editors have previously noted that the CX-5 is one of the few cars that does not display track info when using Bluetooth streaming audio. A few days later, during a trip to Lake Placid, New York, the USB issue had resolved itself.
Shortly after returning from Lake Placid, Lorio handed off the keys to road test editor Chris Nelson to bring the car back to Michigan. Check back next month once the editors in Ann Arbor get their hands on the CX-5 again.