By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.3
The 2014 CX-5 is Mazda's impressive entry in the compact SUV segment, where it competes with veterans like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape. Introduced for 2013, the CX-5 is the first vehicle designed from the ground up using Mazda's Skyactiv technologies aimed at marrying efficiency and performance. The CX-5 offers both, along with value and advanced safety features. Fun-to-drive manners are seldom associated with SUVs, but the CX-5 has those, too. If there was one fly in the 2013 CX-5's ointment, it was modest power output. Mazda has addressed that for 2014 with an available engine that is more potent yet still fuel-thrifty. In the face of formidable rivals, the CX-5 endears with a scrappy nature akin to David vs. multiple Goliaths. That's why we named it one of the 10 Best SUVs Under $25,000 for 2014.
If you want a 5-passenger SUV that offers great looks, playful driving manners, impressive technology and good value, the 2014 Mazda CX-5 deserves a test-drive. That it boasts class-leading fuel economy of up to 35 mpg feels like icing on an already tasty cake.
Base versions of the CX-5 with the smaller engine still sacrifice power in return for increased fuel economy. And while the CX-5 has one of the best manual transmissions we've tested in an SUV, it's only available on the base, front-wheel-drive (FWD) version that is the most lacking in features.
The biggest news for 2014 is the more powerful 2.5-liter engine in Touring and Grand Touring models of the Mazda CX-5. On the safety front, the CX-5 is available with Smart City Brake Support, which can automatically stop the car in lower-speed situations when a collision appears imminent.
Driving Impressions 2014 Mazda CX-5 Sport models with the 2.0-liter engine have just adequate power and acceleration – not quite the Zoom-Zoom that Mazda prides itself on. Better is the 2.5-liter Skyactiv...4-cylinder engine standard in Touring and Grand Touring models. Its higher horsepower and torque are just what the CX-5 needed. This more potent CX-5 still won't outgun a Kia Sportage turbo or Subaru Forester turbo, but it easily stays in step with rivals like the Honda CR-V and offers good off-the-line acceleration. Drivers willing to shift for themselves – and who won't mind a lack of creature comforts – will be rewarded with one of the best manual transmissions we've used in an SUV. With the short-throw 6-speed manual, the CX-5 is even more fun to drive, and this trim's lighter weight adds to its nimbleness. With a manual transmission this good, we wish it weren't restricted to the basest of CX-5 models.
SMART CITY BRAKE SUPPORT
Automatic braking systems are usually reserved for luxury cars, so it's refreshing to see one in a mid-$20,000 mainstream SUV. At speeds of 3 to 19 mph – as in heavy traffic with potential for driver distraction – the system automatically applies the brakes if its laser senses an impending collision.
The name may be marketing, but the results are real: zippy performance without penalty to fuel economy. More than just advanced engine technology, Skyactiv emphasizes lightweight materials, aerodynamic bodies and even improved vehicle structure integrity for improved safety.
Inside the 2014 Mazda CX-5 are two rows of seats that hold up to five passengers. Cloth is the standard seat fabric in Sport and Touring models, while top-line Grand Touring models are graced with well-bolstered leather. Rear legroom is generous and is comfortable for two adults. Behind the rear seat is a commendable 34.1 cubic feet of storage space, enough to hold plenty of groceries or several suitcases. That room nearly doubles with the seats folded, a task easily performed with a single button. Dash controls for setting audio and climate features are easy to find and use.
The CX-5 is the first Mazda to embody the automaker's "Kodo – Soul of Motion" styling. Fancy language aside, the 2014 CX-5 is defined curves that are both elegant and muscular. Viewed from the side, the CX-5 has a slightly forward stance that makes it appear athletic, ready to pounce. A standard rear roof spoiler and dual rear exhaust outlets add more visual cues to the CX-5's peppy nature. Even the base Sport model comes clad in 17-inch wheels, with Grand Touring models dressed in even larger 19-inch aluminum-alloys. An optional roof rack can add functionality for securing gear on all models.
The 2014 Mazda CX-5 is available in three trims: Sport, Touring and, at the top, Grand Touring. The base Sport version is well equipped with push-button start, 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/USB audio, cruise control and 17-inch wheels, but the Touring and Grand Touring models offer really impressive features for the money. The Touring model comes with the more powerful 2.5-liter engine, blind-spot monitoring, Bluetooth, 6-speaker audio with HD Radio, a rearview camera, and a 5.8-inch color display. Grand Touring models add leather, 9-speaker Bose audio, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and 19-inch alloy wheels. Stability/traction control, antilock brakes, and front, side and side-curtain airbags are all standard.
All CX-5 models except the base Sport version with manual transmission can be had with traction-enhancing all-wheel drive (AWD). Packages and options vary by trim. Sport models with automatic transmissions can get a Bluetooth package that includes HD and Pandora Internet radio, and a 5.8-inch color screen. The Smart City Brake Support system is available on Touring and Grand Touring models, as is navigation, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, high-intensity discharge headlights, and adaptive front lighting. Other options available on various models include front and rear parking sensors, a trailer hitch, and fog lights, keyless entry, and SiriusXM satellite radio.
For 2014, two engine choices are offered in the Mazda CX-5 crossover SUV. Sport models feature Mazda's 155-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder mated to great-feeling a 6-speed manual transmission or a smooth 6-speed automatic. Touring and Grand Touring versions of the 2014 CX-5 come with a more powerful 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and the 6-speed automatic. All-wheel drive can be had in place of front-wheel drive on all models except a Sport with the manual transmission. Both CX-5 engines are advanced, using higher compression rates to literally squeeze the most energy out of gasoline. Thankfully, unlike other highly advanced engines, those in the 2014 CX-5 run on regular, 87-octane unleaded. Towing capacity is rated at a maximum of 2,000 pounds for all CX-5 models. No word yet on the chance of a diesel CX-5 coming to the U.S.
155 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
150 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
26/35 mpg (manual transmission, FWD)
26/32 mpg (automatic, FWD)
25/31 mpg (automatic, AWD)
184 horsepower @5,700 rpm
185 lb-ft of torque @ 3,250
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/32 mpg (FWD), 24/30 mpg (AWD)
Even on models with Mazda's new and more powerful engine, prices for the 2014 CX-5 have risen only a few hundred dollars compared to last year's model. A base CX-5 Sport with manual transmission opens just a hair under $22,000. With an automatic transmission, that price increases by $1,400. Mid-level Touring models start around $25,400, and top-line Grand Touring models open around $28,400 and reach into the low $30,000 range when loaded. Adding all-wheel drive to any of the trims costs $1,250. While the 2014 Mazda CX-5 isn't the least expensive in the segment, it offers a lot of value – and intangibles such as driving dynamics – for the money. Kia's Sportage and Hyundai's Tucson undercut the CX-5's base price by a couple thousand, while the CX-5's base price is in line with rivals such as Honda the CR-V and Ford Escape, and is slightly below the recently revamped Toyota RAV4. Before buying, check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price below to see what others in your area are paying for the CX-5. The CX-5's residual value is expected to be good, but not quite as high as the CR-V, RAV4 and Tucson.
By Adam on Tuesday, April 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I drive around 35k per year, all types of weather and this vehicle has been great so far. I’m coming from driving and f-150 for about 100k before the transmission went out, and before that came from a family that would only drive Honda and Acura. With that being said, this is the best car I’ve owned. I love the way it drives, especially with the electronic steering. My wife drives a new Honda Odyssey and I never realized how loose the steering was on the Honda until I went back and forth between the CX-5. Like I said, this is a great vehicle and when the lease is up on the Honda we are going to look at another Mazda."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By jwm4343 on Wednesday, April 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "great interior, good sound system, gas mileage"
Cons: "ride, transmission, acceleration"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"If you do plan to purchase this car, I recommend going with a newer model (not the first couple production lines). I got this car BRAND new. There were few at the dealerships at the time. I LOVE the interior, and the overall design is nice for sure. However, this car is a slug on acceleration. Even getting onto a freeway on-ramp is quite challenging. Passing other cars? Forget it. Also, I've had some significant trouble with the transmission. Several months ago, I was going up a hill and some electronic controls took over. The car raced to 4000 rpm and wouldn't go faster than about 5 or 10 mph. I was on a fast-moving road, so cars behind me almost hit me. It was frightening for sure. Then, recently, the gear shifting started getting intermittently loud. I took the car in, and they cannot identify anything wrong. I've owned several cars in years past, so I know something is not right. Now, I get it. Not every car is representative of the whole fleet. But I do have to still express caution at all this."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By blondie005 on Friday, March 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun, looks , gas mileage"
Cons: "Non-ethanol gas to run right."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"When I first saw it, I fell in love. I live where you have to have AWD or 4WD, so it was perfect. It handles and drives like the Mazda RX8 I had, which is so much fun. Now here's the 1 thing.....My husband always uses non-ethanol gas in his vehicle, so of course, we use it in mine. A couple of times I wasn't near a station that sold this type of fuel, so I just put in regular. At about 15,000 miles, the check engine light came on. We took it to the dealer and they had to call in a special "team" of people to try and figure out what was causing the light to stay on. What it all came down to, the couple of times I had used regular gas, caused the light to come on and stay on. The service manager told us to only use non-ethanol gas in it. Are you kidding me?? Those stations are far and few between where we live and besides that, it's about .20 cents higher per gallon. So, had I known that, I would not have bought this particular vehicle. I have read where a lot of people are experiencing stalls and sudden acceleration........I bet it's the fuel they are using. Anyway, other than that, I love the looks, it's fun to drive and gets great gas mileage."
23 people out of 34 found this review helpful
By Johnny Boy on Monday, March 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Overall Handling, zippy power, fun to own"
Cons: "Awkward getting into armrest, small center console"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Bought the car in late January (in the heart of the NE winter). Was looking for a fitting replacement for my 2008 Toyo Camry but with better gas mileage and better traction. Found it in my 2014 Touring model. Still too young to tell, but I am averaging 26-28 MPG combined (same as my Camry) but with AWD it is more than acceptable. Seating is very comfy. I have back problems and the lumbar support really helps and the seats make you sit up straight. I am 6'2" (but slender) and find it more than roomy enough in the front and back seats. It has been great so far in this winter that won't end... It has a great ride (great in the snow, too), sporty and receptive handling and is a real pleasure to drive. It has plenty of zip for me with the 2.5 liter. I work right off the highway and have to merge with traffic quickly - a breeze with this car. My friends also love the sporty looks as do I. Sitting higher up than in the Camry gives you better vision, as well as the use of the back-up camera, which has virtual lines to help you back into a parking space with ease. Center console is a little tight with not much storage space and it is a little awkward if you have to get something out of the armrest storage. LCD screen is a little small but the touch functions are receptive. Center dashboard vents are right under the LCD and I sometimes hit them when reaching for other things, have to constantly fix them. Other than those small items, I love it and would recommend it to others looking for great things in small packages."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Patina on Monday, March 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "small moon roof, no compass"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Just purchased the 2015 CX-5 Grand Touring with AWD and after 4 days with it, I have to say I'm very impressed. I traded in a 2012 Kia Sportage EX for the CX-5 and feature wise, the two are very comprable. I liked the Nav in the Kia better than the CX-5 but not a big deal. I wish the CX-5 had a larger moon roof but again, not a deal breaker. Things I like a lot are the headlights, really bright and definitely help with night driving. Seats are very comfy and steering/maneuverabilty are a dream! I also notice the CX-5 is a quieter, smoother ride than the Kia. Still on the fence with the gas mileage because the car is so new but can already see the average MPG is better than my Kia was getting. I do a fair balance of city and highway driving daily and right now I'm showing an average of 22.5 MPG in the CX-5. My Kia was getting 19-20 average MPG. I expect the average in the Mazda to improve as the engine gets broken in. The exterior of the CX-5 is very sporty looking to me and very similar to the Kia Sportage in looks. The CX-5 has a much larger back storage area which I like a lot. I have some very minor issues with the CX-5 but I had some with the Kia too. None of them are worthy of giving the CX-5 a low rating though. This is a stylish, full feature, fun to drive car and I'm very glad I traded the Kia Sportage for the Mazda CX-5."
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By AS88 on Saturday, March 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Suspension, Looks"
Cons: "Blind spots, Bose Stereo, Navigation, Trunk light"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"We have had the car for a year now so I feel I am at a good point to write a review. On the plus side no issues with it, it looks great and it has the best suspension of any car I have driven. Onto the negatives...the biggest issue is the blind spots. This car is about 180 inches long, it should have no blind spots. I have owned 2 sedans both of which were a foot longer and they did not have blind spots. We have the blind spot system, but I am still not comfortable driving the car. We have the 2.5L engine and I still find it to be underpowered. Navigation is slow and unresponsive, and Bose system is a total joke,it sounds no better than the regular stereo in our other car. I have no doubt we will be selling it in a few years."
13 people out of 19 found this review helpful