KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 2/21/2013
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.
You'll Like This Car If...
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.
You May Not Like This Car If...
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.
What's New for 2014
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.
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.
For vehicle details and pricing notes…