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.
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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.