"The engine has more than adequate power but delivery is a bit slow."
After spending the summer on the East Coast, our CX-5 has made its way back to Michigan. However, absence may not have made our hearts grow fonder for the sky-blue Mazda.
Despite delighting us with good fuel economy - copy editor Rusty Blackwell averaged a calculated 31.8 mpg on a 680-mile trip - the Skyactiv 2.0-liter engine's power delivery has become a sore point. "The engine has more than adequate power but delivery is a bit slow," noted managing editor of digital platforms Jennifer Misaros. "I think the loud engine only adds to the feeling of slowness because the high decibel level doesn't correlate to the speed of travel. It's too bad because the handling, steering, and braking make it feel sporty, but the fairly uninspiring acceleration and loud engine take away from that feeling." Managing editor Amy Skogstrom described the engine as "sounding like a sewing machine" and Blackwell's father-in-law asked if it was a diesel due to the loud volume of the I-4's direct-injection system. Part of the reason the CX-5 scores high-mpg marks is due to its relatively low curb weight (our car rings it at just 3272 lbs) but that low curb weight means less sound insulation material is onboard.
Some of us may be left wanting for more power, but those of us who have taken the CX-5 on a long trip find that it's an acceptable trade-off for the increased efficiency - the CX-5 may not be the fastest, but it's one of the most frugal vehicles in our fleet. Blackwell had no problem cresting the 30-mpg marker on his family's trip to Arcadia, Michigan. "The 31.8-mpg average is quite good, especially considering that we loaded up the CX-5 to the gills with enough clothing, beach toys, and snacks for a family of four and spent a fair bit of the weekend with the engine idling to keep kids cool from the summer heat." It was only under highway-passing maneuvers that Blackwell found the CX-5 to be a little short of breath, but the little Mazda was plenty peppy otherwise on twisty backroads.
But the trip was not without faults - the navigation system in the CX-5 is best described as rudimentary. The system "insisted on zooming in so closely that you had no idea what crossroad was coming a couple miles down the road. On the way back from exploring, I chose not to set the nav, and my wife periodically checked our status on her smartphone instead - there are only so many time I'll tap the zoon-out button on the screen before giving up." We looked into the TomTom-designed system's settings and discovered that it was due for an update, which has to be done at home by plugging the map's SD card into the computer. We've done the update and will see if it helps make the system more useable.
We are split on the how comfortable the CX-5's seats are. Says Blackwell: "My wife and I found the seats to be pretty comfortable for the four-plus-hour drive up north. Misaros disagrees, complaining that "the front seats are horribly uncomfortable - they don't have enough cushion or support. After about 30 minutes of driving both my passenger and I were squirming to keep our butts from going numb." Other staffers have found the seats "neither comfortable, nor uncomfortable" and "forgettable"; however, all are in agreement that they could use more bolstering, since the CX-5 is a hoot to drive along twisting b-roads.
The CX-5 also went in for its 10,000 and 15,000-mile services this past month. Both involve a tire rotation, multi-point inspection, and oil change with a new filter. Service costs were both reasonable, ringing in at $56.60 for the former and $54.10 for the latter; the slight difference in cost was due to the techs billing us for extra time to inspect the rear suspension after senior editor Joe Lorio got gravel caught in the right rear control arm.
Check back next month to see if our feelings continue to get dragged down by the buzzy engine, or if the CX-5's nimble handling and good fuel economy will endear us further to this compact crossover.